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Opera on DVD

Thanks to my obsession with the opera DVD collection at Netflix (see post on September 4), I have watched a few interesting productions lately. I went through what they have from Strauss, beginning with Pier Luigi Pizzi's fairly traditional production of Der Rosenkavalier, from the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. The excellent cast includes Ildikó Komlósi as Octavian, Désirée Rançatore as Sophie, Elizabeth Whitehouse as the Marschallin, and Daniel Lewis Williams as Ochs.

I watched Marco Arturo Marelli's production of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos at the Semperoper in Dresden, with Sophie Koch as the Composer, Susan Anthony as the Prima Donna/Ariadne, and the pyrotechnically virtuosic Iride Martinez as Zerbinetta. This is an eclectic opera, revised after its failed premiere to be a sort of commentary on the creation of an opera. It works well in this eclectic production, conducted by Colin Davis, in which the resulting mixture of comedy and tragedy is presented as an ultramodern art happening in a wealthy home.

Right now, I am watching Dmitri Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, in a rather notorious film version by Petr Weigl from 1992. What he did was make a film using, as its soundtrack, an abridged version of what is probably the best recording of this opera, with Galina Vishnevskaya as Katerina Ismailova, Nicolai Gedda as Sergei, and Mstislav Rostropovich conducting the London Philharmonic. Even though this is an opera for adults, you may not be prepared, as I was not, to see the lip-synching Czech cast present the story, which is quite violent and sexual, in graphically violent and sexual ways. On the basis of this DVD, I would like to see more of Weigl's movies, but not that many are available in the United States.

Richard Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier, directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi at the Teatro Massimo, Palermo (2000)
Richard Strauss, Ariadne auf Naxos, directed by Marco Arturo Marelli at the Semperoper, Dresden (2004)
Dmitri Shostakovich, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, directed by Petr Weigl (1992)


robbie said...

Hi. You are SO lucky. I wish that I could find how to watch complete performances of opera on the internet. Can you tell me the name of some sites and what to do once I am there? I would be really grateful. I'm a real klutz when it comes to computers. I'm going on towars 80 years of age and all this new language (computerese) confuses me. Can someone PLEASE halp a geriatric opera buff? Thanks. Robbie.

Charles T. Downey said...

Robbie -- try our Sunday link dump, which has links to online audio and video. Instructions included.