Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Modernity vanquished? Verdi Un ballo in maschera, Royal Opera House, London

Verdi Un ballo in maschera at the Royal Opera House - a masked ball in every sense, where nothing is quite what it seems. On the surface, this new production appears quaint and undemanding. It uses painted flats, for example, pulled back and forth across, as in toy theatre. The scenes painted on them are vaguely generic, depicting neither Boston nor Stockholm, where the tale supposedly takes place. Instead, we focus on Verdi, and on theatre practices of the past. In other words, opera as the art of illusion, not an attempt to replicate reality. Take this production too literally and you'll miss the wit and intelligence behind it.

La Traviata in Ljubljana Slovenia

Small country, small opera house — big ensemble spirit. Internationally acclaimed soprano Natalia Ushakova steps in for indisposed local Violetta with mixed results.

Otello in Bucharest — Moor’s the pity

Bulgarian director Vera Nemirova’s production of Otello for the Romanian National Opera in Bucharest was certainly full of new ideas — unfortunately all bad.

Il trovatore at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its current revival of the 2006-2007 production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore by Sir David McVicar Lyric Opera has assembled a talented quintet of principal singers whose strengths match this conception of the opera.

Schubert’s Winterreise by Matthias Goerne

This Winterreise is the final instalment of Matthias Goerne’s series of Schubert lieder for Harmonia Mundi and it brings the Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition, begun in 2008, to a dark, harrowing close.

Mary, Queen of Heaven, Wigmore Hall

O Maria Deo grata — ‘O Mary, pleasing to God’: so begins Robert Fayrfax’s antiphon, one of several supplications to the Virgin Mary presented in this thought-provoking concert by The Cardinall’s Musick at the Wigmore Hall.

Analyzed not demonized — Tristan und Isolde, Royal Opera House

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Royal Opera House, first revival of the 2009 production, one of the first to attract widespread hostility even before the curtain rose on the first night.

Florencia in el Amazonas Makes Triumphant Return to LA

On November 22, 2014, Los Angeles Opera staged Francesca Zambello’s updated version of Florencia in el Amazonas.

John Adams: The Gospel According to the Other Mary

John Adams and his long-standing collaborator Peter Sellars have described The Gospel According to the Other Mary as a ‘Passion oratorio’.

A new Yevgeny Onegin in Zagreb — Prince Gremin’s Fabulous Pool Party

Superb conducting from veteran Croatian maestro Nikša Bareza makes up for an absurd waterlogged new production of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.

Nabucco in Novi Sad

After the horrors of Jagoš Marković’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro in Belgrade, I was apprehensive lest Nabucco in Serbia’s second city of Novi Sad on 27th October would be transplanted from 6th century BC Babylon to post-Saddam Hussein Tikrit or some bombed-out kibbutz in Beersheba.

La Bohème in San Francisco

First Toronto, then Houston and now San Francisco, the third stop of a new production of Puccini's La bohème by Canadian born, British nurtured theater director John Caird.

Radvanovsky Sings Recital in Los Angeles

Every once in a while Los Angeles Opera presents an important recital in the three thousand seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

L’elisir d’amore, Royal Opera

This third revival of Laurent Pelly’s production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore needed a bit of a pep up to get moving but once it had been given a shot of ‘medicinal’ tincture things spiced up nicely.

Samling Showcase, Wigmore Hall

Founded in 1996, Samling describes itself as a charity which ‘inspires musical excellence in young people’.

La cenerentola in San Francisco

The good news is that you don’t have to go all the way to Pesaro for great Rossini.

Rameau: Maître à danser — William Christie, Barbican London

Maître à danser: William Christie and Les Arts Florissants at the Barbican, London, presented a defining moment in Rameau performance practice, choreographed with a team of dancers.

Le Nozze di Figaro — or Sex on the Beach?

The most memorable thing (and definitely not in a good way) about this performance of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Serbian National Theatre in Belgrade was the self-serving, infantile, offensive and just plain wrong production by celebrated Serbian theatre director Jagoš Marković.

The Met mounts a well sung but dramatically unconvincing ‘Carmen’

Should looks matter when casting the role of the iconic temptress for HD simulcast?

Maurice Greene’s Jephtha

Maurice Greene (1696-1755) had a highly successful musical career. Organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a position to which he was elected when he was just 22 years-old, he later became organist of the Chapel Royal, Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge and, from 1735, Master of the King’s Music.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier
20 May 2011

Elizabeth Schwarzkopf in Der Rosenkavalier

Classic films often receive the honor of a full “restoration,” especially when a new viewing format appears.

Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier

The Marschallin: Elizabeth Schwarzkopf; Octavian: Sena Jurinac; Sophie: Anneliese Rothenberger; Baron Ochs: Otto Edlelmann. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Kultur D4684 [DVD]

$37.99 (Blu-Ray)  Click to buy

The companies behind the product get another marketing opportunity, and the fans get the chance to see a beloved work of art in a state-of-the-art reproduction.

Such seems to be the promise behind a recent Kultur release of a “restored & remastered” version of Paul Czinner’s classic 1962 film of Der Rosenkavalier, from the Salzburg Festival, with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Vienna Philharmonic and a superlative cast: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as the Marschallin, Sena Jurinac in the title role, Anneliese Rotherberger as Sophie and Otto Edlelmann as Baroc Ochs.

As compared to a drab VHS version your reviewer saw some years ago, this DVD version does indeed have sharper colors and adequate sound. However, the film quality still shows its age, and audiophiles have no special reason to rejoice. The chief advantage of this new version is the addition of subtitles — that VHS version had none. Kultur does retain the synopses that begin each act, which have a certain historic charm, although the subtitles make them superfluous. The review copy offers nothing else — a one page track listing is the only thing provided in place of a booklet.

In the end, any disappointment provoked by the above state of affairs is washed away in the glory of this impeccably classy and traditional performance. The opera of composer Richard Strauss and librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal has depths and dark corners unexamined in this lovely 1962 presentation, and so we can be thankful for some of the more successful non-traditional productions of Der Rosenkavalier seen in recent years. Still, charm is not a negligible quality, and charm of one sort or another smiles out of almost every frame of this film.

Kultur has Schwarzkopf’s Marchallin as the cover, and she does dominate act one and the closing segment of act three. The voice undoubtedly had more plushness in earlier years, but ameliorating that loss is the mature wisdom of her understated portrayal. She knows this is no longer a stage performance, and she lets her eyes provide the acting. When she gathers her gown and departs after the trio, her visage from behind has more dramatic force than many performers manage facing the audience. Sena Jurinac neither sings nor acts convincingly as a male adolescent, but in the fairy-tale aspect of this work, her Octavian fits right in. In a role that be too cutesy by half, Annelise Rothenberger as Sophie earns our love along with Octavian’s, although one might wish for just a bit more security in the very highest notes. Otto Edelmann’s is a classically crude and obnoxious Ochs, which does make act three feel long until his disappearance (despite the fact that it is cut already). His epic last note at the end of act two won’t satisfy those who want the walls to reverberate with low vibrations, but he gets it out.

Herbert von Karajan loved to be filmed conducting, but there director Czinner keeps the camera on the stage, excepting, of course, the opening instrumental passages. Amusingly enough, Karajan does get the final bow.

So while this may not be the truest, most rewarding “restoration and remastering” imaginable, anything that puts this film on the market again deserves our thanks. Thank you, Kultur!

Chris Mullins

 

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):