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Thread: Prokofiev on DVD and Blu-ray

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    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    Default Prokofiev on DVD and Blu-ray



    Renata (Galina Gorchakova) is posessed by a demon and the knight Rupert (Sergei Leiferkus) falls in love with her and accompanies her in her search for ex-lover Count Heinrich whom she believes is the fiery angel in human form. The role of Renata is a real tour de force for Gorchakova. Virtually every scene is a mad scene, she is on stage nearly all of the time and it's all very intense. It must be nearly as challenging a role as, say, Salome or Elektra.

    Some regard this opera Prokofiev's masterpiece. I wouldn't go that far, but it's definitely an interesting opera. It was never staged during Prokofiev's lifetime, but Proko thought so highly of it that he used music from it for his third symphony - a matter of not wasting any good music. The production is very wel done and I was on the edge of my seat during the fifth act, and not only because of the nudity () even though musically it's weaker than the other four. BTW, don't think that this is a long opera because there are five acts - the whole opera lasts just over two hours.
    Martha doesn't signal when the orchestra comes in, she's just pursing her lips..

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    Senior Member Herkku's Avatar
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    Default Prokofiev on DVD and Blue-ray



    I don't know if I should have my head examined for the loss of my sense of humour, because I didn't find this comedy much fun. I saw the opera nearly thirty years ago in the old Finnish National Opera, and if my memory doesn't fail me too, I liked it very much. So, what's wrong with this performance from the Mariinsky Theatre? I don't know. At least we get to see the young Anna Netrebko (the recording is from 1998) in a not very vocally demanding role. There is nothing wrong with the singing of the whole cast. The conductor is Valery Gergiev. Something is very definitely missing here.

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Default Prokofiev: War and Peace

    Watching this now online, from the Naxos library:



    I've only seen the first 30 minutes so far, but I know I'll like it. It's really spectacular, what a great opera (it's my first encounter with it)! This one must be included in our top 100! And this DVD has good singing, effective minimalist staging, attractive principals. I think I'll have to buy it.

    Ok, I loved Part I (Peace) but I can't say I love part II (War) as much.
    I see its quality, it's not that. Good dramatic orchestration, choruses, impactful libretto, sure. But it's just too long and too over-the-top patriotic. Apparently Prokofiev wanted to focus on the love story of Part I but was forced by the Soviet authorities to do the patriotic War part too, if he ever wanted to see the piece accepted. He did, but ended up not seeing it staged anyway (had the bad idea of dying two months before it premiered, although partial productions with fewer scenes had been presented during his lifetime).
    Last edited by Almaviva; Sep-04-2011 at 23:49.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Default Prokofiev: Betrothal in a Monastery



    Not a full review here; for this, see Herkku's post above. It's just to show my appreciation for a young Anna...

    -------------

    OK. It's started.
    OH! MY! GOD!!!!
    Anna looks drop dead gorgeous! A young Anna Netrebko! I need a plastic sheet otherwise I'll drool all over the sofa!
    And this is a transposition of a plot in the style of an Italian opera buffa into Russian 20th century musical language with spectacular and imaginative costumes and ballet at the Mariinsky, with Gergiev conducting. And have I mentioned a young Anna?
    I'm in for a treat!!!

    Even though I'm a big fan of Anna's, it is surprisingly the first time that I see her in a Russian opera.
    It's very refreshing to listen to her voice in Russian, without the heavy accent and articulation problems that sometimes taint her French and Italian performances.
    She is completely natural, in her element (of course). Wow.

    WOW!

    OK, have I made sufficiently clear how much I'm enjoying this?
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herkku View Post


    I don't know if I should have my head examined for the loss of my sense of humour, because I didn't find this comedy much fun. I saw the opera nearly thirty years ago in the old Finnish National Opera, and if my memory doesn't fail me too, I liked it very much. So, what's wrong with this performance from the Mariinsky Theatre? I don't know. At least we get to see the young Anna Netrebko (the recording is from 1998) in a not very vocally demanding role. There is nothing wrong with the singing of the whole cast. The conductor is Valery Gergiev. Something is very definitely missing here.
    Only goes to show how different people's impressions can be because I really like that one. Not that it makes me double up with laughter, but I find it very amusing - very Rossini-like. And as long as Anna is on screen I would even enjoy it if there was no sound. 8/10 for me.
    Martha doesn't signal when the orchestra comes in, she's just pursing her lips..

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    Default I am not very demanding

    I loved the Betrothal...it is great.

    About War and peace, I have two versions, the Gergiev one is the bad one. This one is the good one:

    Opera de Paris:

    http://www.amazon.com/Prokofiev-Bert...3330628&sr=1-3

    LOve for 3 oranges is always in French, I have the privilege, I had a friend in France who registred it from his TV (numerical) in Russian!!!!!


    The fairy angel is awesome. The gambler, weird but good...

    http://www.amazon.com/Fiery-Angel-Pr...3330952&sr=1-2

    http://www.amazon.com/Gambler-Prokof...3330913&sr=1-1

    Beautiful version.

    I have all possible DVDs....I love watching opera.

    Martin

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    This is a good recording of a great opera.

    Olga Guryakova is ravishing as Natacha.


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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schigolch View Post


    This is a good recording of a great opera.

    Olga Guryakova is ravishing as Natacha.


    She is indeed gorgeous, and is well matched by Nathan Gunn as her Prince Andrei:

    Natalie

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    Senior Member amfortas's Avatar
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    I've seen and enjoyed this production. Has anyone seen the other DVD version, the Kirov conducted by Gergiev? It has the advantage of being complete (the Paris version above supposedly cuts nearly an hour, mostly from the second half), but the staging received mixed reviews. I'd be interested to hear from someone who has seen both.

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    I own the above and like it, and saw parts of the Gergiev online - maybe not enough to form a full opinion, but as far as this limited viewing goes for what it's worth, I don't remember the details, but I remember that I liked the Paris version better, although I liked the Gergiev too. I know, not very helpful, but since I didn't write down my impressions at the time, it's the best I can do.

    I was checking out the vote in our project: all five voters who had seen versions voted unanimously for the Paris version so this should tell you something. There was no runner-up since nobody nominated the Gergiev version. When I wrote down my vote I said 'I prefer the Paris version but I also like the Gergiev version.' However I don't remember exactly why I did... LOL
    Last edited by Almaviva; Jun-27-2011 at 01:45.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Senior Member amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    I was checking out the vote in our project: all five voters who had seen versions voted unanimously for the Paris version so this should tell you something. There was no runner-up since nobody nominated the Gergiev version. When I wrote down my vote I said 'I prefer the Paris version but I also like the Gergiev version.' However I don't remember exactly why I did... LOL
    That was still a more informed vote than mine: I opted for the Paris version not having seen any other. But I definitely liked and could recommend it, which I understand was the only requirement needed to cast a vote.

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    For a first contact with the opera, I would recommend the Paris version, which has a more imaginative staging, and acting.

    The Kirov version, it's a little bit more idiomatic, and could easily be the preferred one for people already familiar with War and Peace. I saw the Kirov production at the theater, in 2001, with Anna Netrebko singing Natacha.

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Default Prokofiev: The Gambler on DVD



    Daniel Barenboim - Staatskapelle Berlin, Staatsopernchor
    Costumes, stage design, and stage direction - Dmitri Tcherniakov

    Cast:
    Alexei - Misha Didyk
    Polina - Kristine Opolais
    General - Vladimir Ognovenko
    Babulenka - Stefania Toczyska
    Marquis - Stephan Rügamer
    Blanche - Sylvia De La Muela
    Mr. Astley - Viktor Rud

    Barebones Kultur product, with only LPCM (but with good clarity and balance) and 16:9 image that isn't high def but is reasonably sharp and colorful. Subtitles in English only, tricky to bring on (a constant complaint of reviewers - but after a couple of attempts, they did). No extras. Running time 135 minutes.

    I confess that I got this more for Kristine Opolais than for Prokofiev.

    OK, I got my first glimpse of Ms. Opolais in the opening scene. Yes, she is stunning, a great looking woman with a beautiful voice too. The other female lead, Sylvia de La Muela, is also attractive.

    Sleek, modern staging, in modern clothing.

    Mycha Didyk as Alexei is not a very good tenor, and he keeps looking at the prompter. His voice sounds empty and is not particularly beautiful. His acting is conventional. He is entirely mismatched when compared to beautiful, imposing, elegant, classy Kristine Opolais whose voice soars a lot higher than his and has very pleasant timbre. Her acting is ten times better as well. A very gifted artist that only recently came under the radar of the international audiences outside of Northern Europe.

    Dramatically speaking the scene between Alexei and Polina in the first act drags on and on and loses steam. Musically, at least so far (it's becoming a habit for me to do these reviews as I watch the opera, not after I finish watching it) I can't say I like this score as much as I did for the other Prokofiev operas that I'm familiar with (I know only three, War and Peace, The Love for Three Oranges, and Betrothal in a Monastery). This orchestration seems to me heavy handed and even bombastic at times. It's often in the style of a military march with loud percussion accompanying the rhythm of the recitatives (there are no arias). It may be atmospheric but is not very beautiful.

    Act II is under way. Ognovenko as the General does well. I miss Kristine, she's been absent from the second act so far. Alexei is a very annoying character, I don't like him. It will be hard to enjoy the opera because he is all over the place. There's too much Alexis and too little Polina, therefore, too much of annoying Didyk (appropriate name) and too little of gorgeous Opolais.

    I like the staging. They're making the best of the situation. They show three simultaneous rooms in the hotel, making the long and monotonous scenes more interesting by showing simultaneous silent actions in the other rooms (such as the Marquis making out with a disgusted Polina who seems forced to comply given her debt to him - now the Marquis has left and Polina looks very despondent - meanwhile another overlong scene with Alexei is going on in the hotel lobby with more annoying behavior - this character is likely to share with Werther the title of my most disliked character in opera - I don't remember from the book - which I read decades ago - Alexei being this annoying - the fault of Dostoyevsky, or of Prokofiev, who wrote his own libretto? - If someone has read the book more recently, please tell me).

    Well, this opera is not the best showcase for Ms. Opolais' talents. Most of the time what the libretto asks of her is to sit silently and look bored.

    Act IV starting after long pause for dinner.

    Oh wow. Maybe it's because a belly well fed makes one more appreciative of the good things in life, aided by the nice wine I just had. But the thing is, fourth act is looking a lot better to me. I'm starting to like everything - Kristine has a wonderful scene and continues to be highly competent. The dramatic impact improves a lot with the casino scene, and the energetic orchestration with all the percussion starts to make more sense. Like I said, the staging is very clever, and it delivers more than ever in the fourth act.

    Wow. This casino scene was really masterful. One of the best I've seen in a while. This alone justifies this production, and ensures a "recommended" verdict.

    Then the final scene in the bedroom with Polina and Alexei is simply spectacular. Again, Ms. Opolais delivers superlative acting and singing.

    I'm totally in love with her. Anna's reign is extremely threatened.

    I don't know what I was thinking when I didn't like the first half.

    Everything works in acts III and IV - orchestra, singers, actors, dramatic impact.

    Definitely recommended. I wouldn't say highly recommended because of the first two acts. Maybe I was just in a bad mood before eating and drinking. I need to watch this again.
    Last edited by Almaviva; Jul-09-2011 at 15:05.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    I love Misha Didyk, I just put up with the Opo-whatever person.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    I love Misha Didyk, I just put up with the Opo-whatever person.
    Different strokes for different folks, er... genders/sexual orientations.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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