Benjamin Britten’s final opera Death in Venice, based on Thomas Mann’s 1912 novella, is given a lush and quite beautiful production from stage director Deborah Warner for the English National Opera in this Opus Arte DVD filmed in 2013. Featuring almost magical settings by Tom Pye, luminous, wind-blown fabrics and water projections lit by the heat and sun effects of the lighting by Jean Kalman, the production gives an almost perfect frame for Britten’s tale. But for all the beauty and appropriateness of the frame, the picture itself is, for this reviewer, a deeply flawed masterpiece. Read more »
Let’s face it—there is no operatic suffering like Russian operatic suffering. In Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, all the Russian people starve and suffer, but none has suffering like the mental agonies of Tsar Boris. Now add to this suffering the sharp edge of a modern police state setting and numerous acts of violence brought by Catalan director Calixto Bieito, and you have one of the darkest, gloomiest, and bleakest performances of Boris Godunov ever, a Bayerische Staatsoper production from Munich 2013, released by Opus Arte. Read more »
George Benjamin’s 2012 opera Written on Skin received great acclaim at its opening at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and the Royal Opera quickly mounted it in March 2013. Seen in this DVD from Opus Arte, the work has a great deal going for it: an impeccable cast of committed singing actors, Benjamin himself as conductor, a libretto (here called “text”) by the modernist British playwright Martin Crimp, and the excellent forces of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Read more »
The sea, the sky, the wind, the storms that are so frequently depicted in the music of Benjamin Britten are brilliantly illuminated in the new DVD of Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach, a collaboration between Aldeburgh Music, film director Margaret Williams, and stage director Tim Albery.
As part of the celebration of the three-year long restoration of the Theatre Royal de Liege (and, from what we can see in this DVD it is a glorious restoration indeed), the Opera Royal de Wallonie went all the way to find as Belgian an operatic experience as was possible.
Having recently reviewed Glass’s The Perfect American on this site and participated in spirited discussions about the film Saving Mr. Banks, it is perhaps not surprising that Walt Disney should spring to my mind as I watched the Unitel Classica video of Die Zauberflote from the floating stage of the Bregenzer Festspiele.
Philip Glass’s 25th opera The Perfect American was originally commissioned for New York City Opera during the aborted regime of Gerard Mortier.
I first became aware of the work of Austrian film director Michael Haneke a few years back when I followed a tip from a friend and rented the well-reviewed The White Ribbon.
On first hearing, Paul Dukas’ 1907 opera Ariane et Barbe-bleue (Ariane and Bluebeard) sounds like the love child of a three-way between Wagner, Strauss, and Debussy.