Der Rosenkavalier (The Cavalier of the Rose) is the most important opera by Richard Strauss, as well as one of his most enduring and lighthearted. Matched with Strauss's glorious music is Hugo Von Hofmannsthal's libretto, ... more »considered a literary masterpiece because of his great ability to create characters in amazing detail. This sublime comedy, which debuted in Dresden in 1911, features the agony and ecstacy of young love, amorous scheming and hilarious sexual confusion in a bygone Vienna. This excellent production features one of the world's greatest opera directors, Pier Luigi Pizzi, and a German cast that includes the renowned Ildiko Komlosi in the title role. Features the Orchestra of the Massimo Theatre, Palermo. 150 minutes.« less
Noam Eitan | Brooklyn, NY United States | 10/22/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The DVD opens with shots of the late-nineteenth-century Teatro Massimo, with its dome, columns and palm-flanked sweep of steps outside and its splendid gold-and-red auditorium within. It was closed for twenty-four years of restoration and reopened April 1998. It is the second biggest opera house in Europe after the Paris opera and Italy's largest, most imposing opera house, yet the acoustics are so perfect as to create a quite startling degree of theatrical immediacy. Check their interesting website http://www.teatromassimo.it/inglese/frameset.html.This performance is intriguing since Der Rosenkavalier is rarely performed in Italy. The singing in this performance far exceeds the quality of the dramatic experience, because of director Pizzi's artistic priorities. There is a sense of immediacy to the singers' voices, bolstered by the microphones and the very bright recording. Try 7:25 minutes to appreciate how close the singers sound. The American bass Daniel Lewis Williams may be the greatest Baron today. His voice mesmerizes you from the second he enters the stage. In 22:10 he can be heard proceeding securely from a shrill and baritone-like high register down to an abyss-deep bass register (and again in 31:56, in 47:03 and in 2:10:40). The late-blooming new Australian soprano Elizabeth Whitehouse is an appropriately aristocratic Marescialla. She started a belated career in Darmstadt and Nuremberg, emerging as a highly accomplished professional with a secure voice. Her phrasing is very musical, full of moving sweetness and gloomy dramatic accents. She gives the character a mysterious element, and yes, she does leave her personal mark on the role to the extent that she too is eligible for a spot in the Pantheon of great Marschallins.Désirée Rançatore was only 21 years old in 1998. At an age when other singers barely start to discover their abilities her voice seems to have hatched fully formed. The haunting beauty of her natural voice is matched by her beguiling personality. She is so irresistible that Octavian's reaction to her innocent charm ("my God, how lovely and good she is, she completely bewilders me") is one shared by the viewer - it IS impossible not to fall in love with her. Sophie, like Cio-cio-san is only 15 when she meets Octavian (who is 17 and 2 months). Rarely does the innocent-adolescent-Romeo-and-Juliet immediate total crush at first sight aspect of their encounter come across so vividly. I can't think of a more idiomatic Sophie. It's almost as if the role was written for her. Just listen to her floating effortlessly high notes in 1:22:20 ("like roses of heaven, not of earth", and again in 1:23:33) and understand what romantic love is all about. Ildikó Komlósi is not on the same level, but she is a very good Octavian with a pleasant voice, very convincing in the androgynous role of the lad disguised as a maid, and able to properly express by her timbre and her acting the adolescent freshness of Octavian's sudden crush on Sophie, without being ridiculous.It seems these days conductors defer to the superstar-director. The conductor matches Pizzi's extreme lyricism (or is it the Karajan influence?) to the point that it makes you long for Solti's robust tempi.This is the 3rd DVD where I need to report that the picture quality is "the best so far on any opera DVD" - it just keeps getting better and better, so much so that having been spoiled by this new crop of DVD's from Naples and Palermo, the older La Scala and Met DVD's look like obsolete technology.Director-designer Pier Luigi Pizzi's Rococò sets and incredibly rich costumes are reserved yet gorgeous, thanks to their neoclassical restraint and the stately grandeur of their design (the Marschallin's night gown is UGLY, though). The stage has a light, almost airy feeling, with no loss of splendor. He uses flowing, cream-colored curtains to frame the beginning and end of each scene. Some scenes show his genius where a perfect visual harmony is achieved with a synergy of action, sets, lights, singing and orchestra playing that really satiates all senses and soul. From what I hear the DVD does not fully capture all the wonders of his inventions, like the effect of the an entirely white and gold set bathed in pure azure light in Act II.Unfortunately IMO he is more of a set designer than a dramatic director. The farcical light element hinges around the Baron, but he does a bad job of directing him. The Baron stands like a putz when he should be chasing Mariandel. This Baron is not the "filthy peasant, a boor" who can barely restraint himself from humping the maid. He is serious, well mannered, dressed in black and it seems nothing can distract him from zeroing on his target - the fat dowry. As a result the comic focus shifts to Faninal, a hilariously pompous David Pittman-Jennings (and what a gorgeous azzurro costume!). Does Pizzi try to direct the Baron as an ominous shady character? He is after all a self confessed zodiacal serial rapist. This could be a legitimate approach but for act III - why would such a man bother to be sidetracked from his mission by a tête-à- tête with a chambermaid? He doesn't come across as really interested in her. Sure enough, the beauty of the sets aside, the drama and particularly the farce collapses in act III. Pizzi is guided by a sublime sense of beauty even at the expense of the drama. The action on stage in act III is clumsy and poorly coordinated instead of flowing forward in mirth (e.g. the Baron's retreat is static and not chaotic enough 2:55:00 ). Verdi wrote to Ricordi in 1875: "At one time it was necessary to endure the tyranny of the Prima Donnas; now it will be necessary also to endure that of the conductors. Is this Art?" An update on this complaint should include the current reign of terror of the directors/set designers."
Singing 10, Comedy 0
Noam Eitan | 02/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'd just like tos econd the review immediately preceding this, but - unfortunately - with more emphasis on the dramatic or comedic failings. This might as well be a concert performance for all the life the staging has, to the point where the director - literally - doesn't seem to have been aware of the action of the libretto. The Marschallin apparently sleeps in a dirigible hangar in terms of the size of the first set, and it is rather difficult to set up comedic movement between Octavian/Mirandel and Ochs when they are placed twenty feet apart. Sophie is blessed also to live in the Grand Canyon - didn't it occur to anyone that the settings for this opera are rather intimate, set in a boudour, parlor room, and private dining room? - and the duel between Ochs and Octavian, which should be hilarious, is as clumsily and stupidly staged as one can imagine. Etc. As the difference between cd and dvd is precisely this, I expect other performances of this masterpiece to cover this one. Recommended because of the singers, but with the reservations noted."
It's the Voices, Dummy!
Maria Miller | Seattle WA United States | 12/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Any opera lover who purchased this DVD wants to hear the music and the voices. Who cares about the technical stuff! If the sound is not 100% perfect, we accept it, after all it's recorded in Palermo, Italy, not at the NY Metropolitan. Komlosi as Octavian is an absolute joy to listen to. Rancatori as Sophie was the biggest surprise. A young singer with such control, talent, and mastering of the difficult Strauss music. Not one screech in 150 minutes. That is why I rate the DVD with 5 stars: The singing, the acting and the music."
This is good, but there is an even better performance
Mr John Haueisen | WORTHINGTON, OHIO United States | 01/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
(sung in German, with subtitles in English)
Der Rosenkavalier (the Cavalier of the Rose) can entertain you on various levels.
There is the heavenly, ethereal music which is almost too beautiful. There's a delightful sense of humor with surprises for nearly all of the main characters.
There's plenty of romance, with the scene of "the presentation of the rose" as one of the best examples of capturing the very moment of love-at-first-sight.
As if all the great entertainment were not enough, Richard Strauss has given us a moral lesson: While the Field Marshall's wife has justifiable contempt for her cousin, the lecherous Baron, she realizes that she has been little better as she has used her imperial position to take advantage of more than one young officer. She sees herself in the mirror, and decides to start doing the right (loving) thing--she gives up her current lover so that he can be happy. She finally loves him enough (a sort of motherly love?) to let go of him.
Der Rosenkavalier is basically a love story, with some "growing up" by several of the characters. The music is so beautiful, it's almost unearthly at times.
The singing in this production is excellent--somewhat surprising considering the very youthful Sophie (Desiree Rancatore). The only reason it didn't get the full 5 stars, is that Carlos Kleiber's performance of Rosenkavalier is even better--better singing and better acting, with dazzling costuming as well.
This one's good, but I honestly think you'd enjoy Kleiber's even more."
BAD STEREO IMAGE, HEADPHONE LISTENERS BEWARE
Jesse Knight | woburn ma usa | 11/22/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is not a complete review, just a report on sound quality for headphone listeners.
Bad stereo imaging can go unnoticed whan we listen to built in TV speakers. This is due to the close spacing of built in speakers. If a voice moves from left to right, sound wise, while the singer moves right to left, on the screen, we may not notice. Many TV sets only have one speaker, hence the sound heard is monophonic. No spacial information, beyond ambiance, is conveyed. Sometimes this is a good thing.
I listen with studio headphones which give a very wide and precise stereo image. (click on "my reviews" for details) What I hear on this DVD is voices not only moving the wrong way, but worse, sometimes the "ping" of the voice, or in technical terms, the overtones of the voice are in one place, while the fundamental tone is elsewhere. This is very disturbing and induces headaches in many listeners.
These problems were recognised and solved decades ago, for example, the Solti Wagner Ring recordings from 1958 - 1965 have stable stereo imaging. Even London's Cosi and Figaro from 1955 have extreme, yet stable stereo, at least on the CD remastered versions.
Fortunately this was a library DVD, so I lost nothing, but I pity any headphone listener who buys this disc. Any of these Rosenkavaliers have much better sound: Best sounding is the Welser-Moest 2004 Zurich regietheater staging, the second Kleiber DVD is almost as good sounding and has a more traditional staging. Kleiber's first DVD is not bad for 1979. Solti DVD is not as good soundwise as the above, but acceptable.
Bottom line: choose by cast and staging preference unless you are a hard core audiophile.