Bernstein and Carreras at their magnificent best
D. MCGOVERN | New Zealand | 11/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1984 behind the scenes look at Bernstein's first recording of his classic score, West Side Story, is a real treat. The singers he assembled were an eclectic mix: Kiri Te Kanawa, Tatiana Troyanos and Jose Carreras, among others. The latter may have seemed an odd choice for the role of Tony, but vocally this character has never been better interpreted. Less successful is Te Kanawa, who overdoes her Puerto Rican accent, ignoring Bernstein's plea for "the merest hint of Puerto Rican-ness".The video takes the viewer through preliminary rehearsals in Bernstein's apartment, interviews with the singers and Bernstein, and finally the recording studio. More than anything else, it conveys the joys and frustrations of making a recording with the composer himself conducting, and the programme does not shrink from showing temper tantrums from both Bernstein and Carreras (who storms out of the studio at one point, cursing "Ma porco in Dio!")Bernstein's energy, creativity, anguish and love of life are evident in every scene, and this is often a moving study of a towering musical figure. Among the singers Jose Carreras steals the show, singing the demanding "Maria" in a performance that is both poetic and powerful. He sings a magnificent High B flat on the word "MAria!" and then ends the song on a melting falsetto. This is the Carreras of yore, and he is unforgettable.Forget the off-key singing in the movie version of this classic - this is the real thing, with the maestro himself in charge."
Geniuses at work
PhantomOfTheOpera | Norway | 10/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Almost a year ago I was away on a one week photo workshop. After a few days our teacher treated us to this dvd while saying that "this is to show you that real artists also struggle to achieve what they want. They are not merely superstars that always can deliver at the tip of a hat".......... The film started and we watched the great ensemble of artists giving their all to get the best possible result out of the recording sessions. I have to say it was kind of encouraging for me to watch and to hearing a voice saying "take 132" while the great artists are getting ready to record. It shows that no man is infallible. We're getting a really interesting glimpse into how things are working when an artist is recording an album. I was sitting there watching and then came the clip where Carreras is singing Maria and my mouth just fell wide open. Something went "click" in my head and it's possible that my heart skipped a beat too and I was completely hooked on this absolutely beautiful voice. The first thing I did when returning back home was to order a copy of this dvd and then I started checking out José Carreras and at the moment I'm the proud and delighted owner of a substantial opera collection - all of them of course with Carreras singing the tenor role.
This dvd is showing us clips from rehearsals and recording sessions as well as some brief comments from the singers about how they feel about working with Bernstein; Troyanos and Te Kanawa are talking about their "connection" to the music of West Side Story and of course we have the more or less (in)famous episode where Carreras is cut of in the middle of "Maria" and someone is saying that this was the end of the session and they have to continue the next day. Carreras, who obviously had worked a lot to get into the right mood to sing this song, in addition to the tension because of a vital top G still not recorded, gets cut of and reacts in a very natural way, I think. He utters a few words in Spanish; (not saying anything nice, I guess) collects his notes and then storms out of the studio. However, the next day he returns in resplendent voice and delivers his top note without any seemingly problems.....
It's also really fun watching the recording of "America" where the artists in addition to Bernstein himself are literally dancing around the studio. I just love watching this. I especially love the look on the face of one of the singers when the song ends; you can see the satisfaction just glowing, because she knows they have pulled it off perfectly.
There are lots of things I could say about this dvd, but I don't want to spoil all the fun for those who haven't watched it yet. What I can say is that this is a "spirited" injection for all those people out there struggling to achieve something, in addition to being a wonderful testament to Bernstein and his music as well as the musicianship of Carreras, Te Kanawa and the late Tatia Troyanos. Don't miss this opportunity to watch real geniuses at work......
PS. I just have to add that "my" workshop ended with almost all the participants going around singing "I feel pretty", becuase we felt that we had triumphed at last, and I can tell you that this song is really "contagious"...."
A Boffo Production!
D. Q. Barnett | Seattle, WA | 10/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This video is one of the most amazing performances i've ever witnessed. This behind the scenes look at recording one of the best musicals ever with a high voltage cast shows the whole creative, artistic process at work. Some egos are bruised along the way, tempers flare, but it is obvious that everyone wants this to work-and it does. The music is timeless and never sounded better. The interplay between Mr. Bernstein and the cast is fascinating, particularly between him and Mr. Carreras.
Mr. Carreras stumbling over the word "coming" -he never did get it right-finally led to his storming off the set uttering epithets in Spanish! But he prevailed in the end, hitting a burnished, softly held "Maria" that would raise the hairs on anyones neck. Overall, a very fine performance by all involved
including a "pick up" orchestra that could hold it's own with
anyone. I highly recommend this video. You'll smile when you hear it!"