Libretto by Eugene Scribe and Emile Deschamps — German version by Ignatz Franz Castelli — Sung in German Cast: — Magarethe von Valois: Angela Denning — Valentine: Lucy Peacock — Raoul von Nangis: Richard Leech — Graf von Saint-... more »Bris: Hartmut Welker
"Les Huguenots, transported into divided Berlin, given by Deutsche Oper rejuvenates the now almost unfairly forgotten opera. This production is very original, emotionally involving and with a tremendous shock value about the cruelty and barbarism of men. In contrast, some parts are rather lighthearted and comic (eg. the bathing scene, or the duet between Raoul and the Queen) which makes the progress of the work even more disturbing and tragic. The Hungarian born Soltesz has an authoritative grip,a thorough knowledge of the score an keeps the opera moving like a steam roller. The fourth and fifth acts will blow you away! The singers are very competent. They were selected for looks and acting ability as well as voice. Angela Denning has comic talent and makes her aria come off very well. Lucy Peacock, the tragic heroine, is unforgettable.The American tenor Richard Leech, who established his reputation in this role as Raoul, sings and acts marvelously in spite of the tremendous demands of the role. To sum up: Great theater, very memorable and enjoyable. Highly recommended!"
No Springtime for Les Huguenots
Glen Tomkins | Savannah, GA USA | 10/05/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Good singing by the principals cannot rescue this production from its fatally wrong-headed staging.
The opera as written by Scribe and Meyerbeer is the story of the flirtation of Raoul, a young Huguenot (French protestant), with assimilation by mainstream, Catholic society. The action takes place during a truce in the religious civil war that tore France apart in the 17th century, a truce that ends with the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre. In the end, Raoul chooses to keep his faith and be massacred by the Catholics along with his Huguenot compatriots. In moving the setting of the action to our own times (location not clear) this Deutsche Oper Berlin production chooses to have the Catholic faction dress and otherwise behave as an overtly fascist organization.
This seriously distorts the drama. The worldly charms of Catholic society, a serious temptation to Raoul in the original staging, have to be lost in this version that portrays that society as frankly fascistic, obviously repulsive long before the ethnic cleansing of the denouement. Raoul in turn has to be portrayed as a boorish idiot to even consider wanting to assimilate into this society.
Even worse is the effect this change has on the "outer drama", the way the drama interacts with the audience. This contemporary version certainly achieves a certain shock value, some recognition of the possibility of such primitive barbarism in our advanced society, merely by staging the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre in contemporary dress. But that shock is superficial, stands little chance of penetrating deeply into an audience that, after the experience of this past century, will never be tempted to identify with, to recognize itself in, any group of people dressed like fascists. Only if the audience can be lulled into sympathy and identification with people who seem so civilized and urbane at the outset, but are led step by step (in stages sadly familiar) to turn to ethnic cleansing to solve their problems, can this drama create the catharsis of fear of which it is capable if competently staged, acted and sung."
Excellent modern version of Meyerbeer's classic
J. Aitken | Glasgow Scotland | 12/15/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although the modern dress production with its fascist uniforms may not appeal to everyone, the story is told clearly and keeps fairly closely to the original in dramatic concept. Richard Leech's Raoul is alone worth the price of the DVD. His singing is absolutely top notch and very exciting. The rest of the cast are pretty good too. Only one draw back - French would have been preferrable, but it's a small quibble.Altogether a fine recording visually and musically."
A beautiful rendition of one of my favorite operas
Joy Gilman | Chincoteague, VA USA | 12/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I loved this rendition of The Huguenots despite the fact that in general I detest it when operas are put into medern dress and I'm used to French as the language used in The Huguenots. In addition to wonderful voices, the whole thing comes together with great meaning - it is a treatise against all sorts of religious fanatasism - and makes it's point succintly. I prefered this much more than the Australian Opera's rendition with Joan Sutherland, in which I felt the wonderful Joan did not do justice to her part."
Germans do have a sense of humour after all!
Operafilly | Fallbrook, Ca United States | 07/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't care much about the updated staging, I'm just thrilled to have this glorious opera on dvd with good voices, even if we are singing Italian opera in German. Leech sounds good as ever. Denning is not Sutherland, but is ok and makes her role a bit comic. This opera needs a few light touches as this ends in massacre. Peacock sings ok but is more of an actress.
Maybe one has to be German to understand the staging. Its certainly different. A bathing suit scene in an opera that ends in a bloodbath."