Gorgeous new Idomeneo
Ingrid Haas Martinez | Mexico City | 10/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It was a real pleasure to watch this new version of IDOMENEO with amazing young singers lead by the impressive Idomeneo of Kurt Streit. Here is a singer who has it all, a beautiful voice, acting skills and the physical presence to portray the tormented king. In my opinion he is the most complete Idomeneo I've seen on DVD. His leading ladies are also impressive. Sonia Ganassi sings the trouser role of Idamante (Idomeneo's son) with elegance and showing she is an expert with coloratura and phrasing. Her acting is very convincing and her two arias are very well sung. As Idamante's love interest, princess Ilia, Ángeles Blancas sings beautifully and her acting is very believable, she is not only an amazing singer but also a superb actress. Her love duet with Ganassi is one of the vocal highlights of this performance. The interaction between the couple is amazing and they portray the tormented romance between these two people in a very realistic, tender way. Iano Tamar's Elektra was a surprise for me, given the fact that this role is so difficult to sing. She delivers an impressive 'Tutto nel cor vi sento' and she acts more as a noble woman being scorened by her lover than as a crazy phsyco as Hildegard Behrens does in the Ponelle's version.
The production uses elementary staging to concetrate the action more in the characters than in scenic devices. The orchestra sounds very well and I think it is a very interesting performance to add to anyone's opera collection. I recommend it highly!"
An ambitious Idomeneo that veers between classicism and mode
Ingrid Heyn | Melbourne, Australia | 03/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is not an entirely convincing performance. With each of the voices (save for the absolutely superb Kurt Streit - no argument from me about his gorgeous voice, beautiful physique and very able acting skills), it took me a while to accustom myself to the timbres. I'll tackle the other singers one at a time to give them a fair representation.
Firstly: I cannot say I was impressed by the acting of Ángeles Blancas, who portrays Ilia. In appearance, she is quite a knock-out, but her gestures are stagey - not so much in themselves, but how she executes them. There's rather too much of her stretching herself out seductively on the stage floor, too. However, it's clear that Ms Blancas is faithfully following the staging as given her. Vocally... I found it hard to get used to her voice. It's not really a pretty enough sound for Ilia. However, I'm bound to say I found the voice either improved further on, or I became more used to it. I am left considering her not ideal as Ilia, but reasonably satisfying in the role.
Secondly: Sonia Ganassi is the Idamante, and I don't think anyone would consider her physically ideal for the role. Her feminine figure is obvious - she simply doesn't look like a young man. Vocally, after a bit of a shaky start, the voice springs forth quite convincingly. Best of all is the timbre when Ms Ganassi sings piano - how ravishing her tone is then! Full and sweet, delicious to hear... this contrasts quite strongly with the more sour sound she produces at full voice. It's not an unpleasing voice, though, and she handles the role of Idamante well, in spite of the drawbacks.
Thirdly: the scorned Elektra is performed by the beautiful Iano Tamar, and this is a very good voice indeed. Again, it took me a few minutes to warm to her singing, but once I did, I found her beautifully convincing. Her acting is convincing, too, although I must point out that the interpretation of Elektra here is not of a woman in a fragile mental state, but simply a woman determined to get her own way. I'm not convinced by this interpretation, but there is absolutely no denying Ms Tamar's singing is lovely.
I must warn viewers: there is full frontal male nudity in this production. Neptune, that sullen-minded god, is portrayed by a well-built male complete with Grecian head and Grecian accoutrements in the loins department. Don't purchase the DVD if this will offend you, as it's far more than a fleeting glimpse.
This draws me to two issues that I found peculiar in this production. Neptune is so very much the classical Greek - and one might almost say the same about Kurt Streit's Idomeneo. These two roles are very firmly grounded in the Greek classical tradition. But the other three main roles are not! They are portrayed modernistically with never a nod towards the classical Greek. This may disconcert those viewers who like a consistent approach.
Secondly, oh goodness... oh dear... what on earth is the idea with the stage-makeup-drawn musculature for our naked Neptune and semi-naked Idomeneo? This is the sort of makeup that might work well on the stage, but since this production was being filmed for DVD, did no one think to tell the costume director what a bad idea such obvious makeup striations would be on film? The makeup job is never mistaken for real musculature on film - it looks clumsy and amateur. Bad... bad mistake.
In general, this was often interesting and sometimes delightful. It was not consistently so, and there were some aspects that detracted from the production as a DVD. Had the option been available, I think I'd have given this DVD three and a half stars rather than four, but I do feel three stars would be unfairly low. Four stars from me, then."
Mozart Deserves Better Voices and Staging
Stanley H. Nemeth | Garden Grove, CA United States | 10/23/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This performance for the most part falls far short of requisite beauty. The music, of course, is itself frequently gorgeous, and the conducting is good enough to do it justice. The singers, however, are another story. I would say they are to a person more adequate than in any way distinguished. The towering, handsome Streit and the Batgirl-garbed, plump Ganassi are the best of the lot. Both have requisite power and agility, but in these roles their voices are not in any way memorable. What we have here in fact is just a pretty routine provincial production, with the better singers more competent than brilliant.
The production is even further marred, unfortunately, by the unnecessarily ugly staging of the mediocre Pier Luigi Pizzi. Once again for no discernible reason we are subjected to his fondness for bleached out sets and minimalist colors and costumes. Far from any idea of elegance, these visuals embarrassingly resemble the sets and costumes more suitable, say, for a junior high school musical. What they reveal is less a coherent idea fitting to Mozart than limited funds at the disposal of the opera house. Will the day ever come when such stage directors and designers who oddly rule in European opera houses are duly subordinated to their superiors, the composer, librettist, and singers, all of whom deserve better?"