Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Reviews

Alban Berg’s Wozzeck at Lyric Opera of Chicago

In order to mount a successful production of Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck, first performed in 1925, the dramatic intensity and lyrical beauty of the score must become the focal point for participants.

A Prize-Winning Rediscovery from 1840s Paris (and 1830s Egypt)

Félicien David’s intriguing Le désert, for vocal and orchestral forces plus narrator, was widely performed in its own day, then disappeared from the performing repertory for nearly a century. In recent days,

Florilegium, Wigmore Hall

During this exploration of music from the Austro-German Baroque, Florilegium were joined by the baritone Roderick Williams in a programme of music which placed the music and career of J.S. Bach in the context of three older contemporaries: Franz Tunder (1614-67), Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1701) and Heinrich Biber (1644-1704). The work of these three composers may be less familiar to listeners, but Florilegium revealed the musical sophistication - under the increasing influence of the Italian style - and emotional range of this music which was composed during the second half of the seventeenth century.

Leoncavallo’s Zazà by Opera Rara

Charismatic charm, vivacious insouciance, fervent passion, dejected self-pity, blazing anger and stoic selflessness: Zazà — a chanteuse raised from the backstreets to the bright lights — is a walking compendium of emotions.

L'ospedale - an anonymous opera rediscovered

‘Stay away from doctors; they are bad for your health.’ This seems to be the central message of L’Ospedale - a one-hour opera by an unknown seventeenth-century composer, with a libretto by Antonio Abati which presents a satirical critique of the medical profession of the day and those who had the misfortune to need curative treatment for their physical and mental ills.

Šimon Voseček : Biedermann and the Arsonists

‘In these times of heightened security … we are listening, watching …’

René Pape, Joseph Calleja, Kristine Opolais, Boito Mefistofele, Munich

Arrigo Boito Mefistofele was broadcast livestream from the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich last night. What a spectacle !

Calixto Bieito’s The Force of Destiny

The monochrome palette of Picasso’s Guernica and the mural’s anti-war images of suffering dominate Calixto Bieito’s new production of Verdi’s The Force of Destiny for English National Opera.

Morgen und Abend — World Premiere, Royal Opera House

The world premiere of Morgen und Abend by Georg Friedrich Haas at the Royal Opera House, London — so conceptually unique and so unusual that its originality will confound many.

Company XIV Combines Classic and Chic in an Exquisite Cinderella

Company XIV’s production of Cinderella is New York City theater at its finest. With a nod to the court of Louis the XIV and the grandiosity of Lully’s opera theater, Company XIV manages to preserve elements of the French Baroque while remaining totally innovative, and never—in fact, not once for the entire two and a half hour show—falls prey to the predictable. Not one detail is left to chance in this finely manicured yet earthily raw production of Cinderella.

Monteverdi by The Sixteen at Wigmore Hall

This was a concert where immense satisfaction was derived equally from the quality of musicianship displayed and the coherence and resourcefulness of the programme presented. In 1610, Claudio Monteverdi published his Vespro della Beata Vergine for soloists, chorus, and orchestra.

Félicien David: Songs for voice and piano

This well-packed disc is a delight and a revelation. Until now, even the most assiduous record collector had access to only a few of the nearly 100 songs published by Félicien David (1810-76), in recordings by such notable artists as Huguette Tourangeau, Ursula Mayer-Reinach, Udo Reinemann, and Joan Sutherland (the last-mentioned singing the duet “Les Hirondelles” with herself!).

Dialogues des Carmélites Revival at Dutch National Opera

If not timeless, Robert Carsen’s production of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites is highly age-resistant.

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Le donne curiose

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari was one of the Italian composers of the post-Puccini generation (which included Licinio Refice, Riccardo Zandonai, Umberto Giordano and Franco Leoni) who struggled to prolong the verismo tradition in the early years of the twentieth century.

Moby-Dick Surfaces in the City of Angels

On Saturday evening October 31, 2015, the Nantucket whaling ship Pequod journeyed to Los Angeles Opera and began its sixth voyage in the attempt to kill the elusive whale called Moby-Dick.

Great Scott at the Dallas Opera

Great Scott is a combination of a parody of bel canto opera and an operatic version of All About Eve. Beloved American diva Arden Scott (Joyce DiDonato), has discovered the score to a long-lost opera “Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompeii” and has become committed to getting the work revived as a vehicle for her. “Rosa Dolorosa” has grand musical moments and a hilariously absurd plot.

Schubert and Debussy at Wigmore Hall

The most recent instalment of the Wigmore Hall’s ambitious series, ‘Schubert: The Complete Songs’, was presented by soprano Lucy Crowe, pianist Malcolm Martineau and harpist Lucy Wakeford.

John Taverner: Missa Corona spinea

This new release of John Taverner’s virtuosic and florid Missa Corona spinea (produced by Gimell Records) comes two years after The Tallis Scholars’ critically esteemed recording of the composer’s Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, which topped the UK Specialist Classical Album Chart for 6 weeks, and with which the ensemble celebrated their 40th anniversary. The recording also includes Taverner’s two settings of Dum transisset Sabbatum.

A Bright and Accomplished Cenerentola at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola has returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in a production new to this venue and one notable for several significant debuts along with roles taken by accomplished, familiar performers.

La Bohème, ENO

Back in 2000, Glyndebourne Touring Opera dragged Puccini’s sentimental tale of suffering bohemian artists into the ‘modern urban age’, when director David McVicar ditched the Parisian garrets and nineteenth-century frock coats in favour of a squalid bedsit in which Rodolfo and painter Marcello shared a line of cocaine under the grim glare of naked light bulbs and the clientele at Café Momus included a couple of gaudily attired transvestites.



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):