Cher Public

Critic of the Future

Mad about the boy

Rosenkavalier DVD CoverIt’s easy to see why the Met has chosen to include this 1982 performance of Der Rosenkavalier in their James Levine: Celebrating 40 Years at the Met – DVD Box Set: the marathon evening is a triumph for Levine from the frenzied blend of waltz melodies in the overture to the final, birdsong-like notes of hope at the end of Act III.

Levine is confident and animated throughout the performance, which is spread out over two DVDs. Of course, Levine is always an excellent musician, but this Rosenkavalier reminded me how exciting he and the Met orchestra can be when they throw themselves wholeheartedly into a piece as rich and moving as this one.  Read more »

Blonde date

acis_amazonYour feelings about the new Opus Arte DVD of Handel’s Acis and Galatea will have a lot to do with your tolerance for gentle whimsy. As a cultural consumer who tends to gravitate toward the more high-octane, Italianate drama of a Verdi overture or a Real Housewives of New Jersey hair-pull, I do my best to steer clear of pastoral operas about the lives and loves of those who tend sheep for a living, but an assignment is an assignment. 

Read more »

The bad and the beautiful

terfel_bad_boysPackaged with a peek-a-boo cover exposing only Bryn Terfel’s lovely left eye (the effect of turning the page to reveal the Welsh bass-baritone’s head in its entirety brings to mind this Encyclopedia Dramatica entry) and an oddly hip-hop-flavored gray-on-black treatment of the album’s title, Terfel’s Bad Boys seems designed for those who like their divos naughty.  Read more »

The People’s Courtesan

Thais2Like Liza Minnelli at the Palace or Nomi Malone in Goddess, Renée Fleming‘s Thaïs is better understood as diva event than Gesamtkunstwerk. It’s an opportunity to watch a star lady do her voodoo in a work that exists largely to showcase her glamour and appeal. Read more »

Nose candy

The indisputable star of the new Naxos DVD of Franco Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac, filmed at the Palau de les Arts ‘Reina Sofia’ in Valencia and directed by Michal Znaniecki, is, as in all other stage, operatic and film adaptations of the Cyrano story, the enormous prosthetic nose worn by the title character. The nose in this production — a 5-inch, vaguely beak-like stunner — works beautifully in tandem with its stage partner, tenor Placido Domingo, who himself delivers a strong, emotive vocal and acting performance in what liner notes state is the 121st new role of his career.

Read more »

A Fly in Her Ear

Opera and comedy can be a very awkward match. Despite the number of comic operas in the standard rep, most opera fans don’t seek out a local production of, say, Die Entführung aus dem Serail because they need a giggle and 30 Rock is a repeat that night. And so the 1997 Opéra National de Lyon production of Offenbach’s Orphée aux Enfers, now on DVD from Arthaus Musik is an extreme rarity: a comic opera that manages to be musically satisfying and extremely funny at the same time. 

Read more »

Oh, them olden slippers

The ArtHaus Musik DVD of the Deutsches Nationaltheater/Staatskapelle Weimar production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, stage directed by Michael Shulz, begins with a long still shot: That’s right, this interpretation of Wagner’s epic 19-hour cycle kicks off with a long static shot of… some dirty red boots. It’s gonna be a long Gesamtkunstwerk.

Read more »