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Thread: Weber on DVD and blu-ray

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Default Weber on DVD and blu-ray

    Herkku has suggested that Weber should be in a thread called German Romantic, Gaston suggested that he should have a thread of his own.

    I'll start this one but if later people decide otherwise, Gaston can move it.
    "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 Weber: Euryanthe on DVD



    No competition. As far as I know this is the only version on DVD. Singing is adequate, not spectacular. Staging is traditional, no fireworks, but not bad either. The ballets are good, unlike in other productions. Being this production not the real attraction, I'll be talking more about the opera itself.

    A+ for the music. The libretto is a mess but is not able to drag down such exquisite and melodious orchestration.

    This is good competition for the title of most melodious opera writing which in most people's mind might belongs to Donizetti.

    Apparently Weber had been criticized for Der Freischütz by those who thought it was more Singspiel than opera, with too many recitatifs and not enough beautiful singing. Well, then Weber set out to shut his critics up by composing Euryanthe, and one must say that it is an astounding success.

    The original libretto was said to be extremely weak and had to be re-written 9 times! It is still weak...

    However and in spite of it, this opera is musically close to perfection. First, the very beautiful and haunting overture correctly sets the tragic tone. Then it opens with a chorus and the conventional exchanges in a high royal court, but very rapidly moves into a passionate tenor aria in which Adolar sings of his love for his wife Euryanthe. One immediately gets the romantic and dramatic impact of his feelings, just to be thrown into his rival Lysiart's hateful aria hinting that she is unfaithful. Oh boy, we are minutes into the action and everything is in full speed! The tension mounts at lightning speed when the two rivals almost come to an engagement with their swords drawn, but set for a bet. We are thrown into the duet between the two female leads, Euryanthe and Eglantine. There is a very interesting equilibrium between these two scenes between the two male and the two female voices - while the men interact violently, the women interact delicately and with subtle intrigue. Besides, this opera contains some of the most fine music for soprano duets, making one think of what would happen years later with Richard Strauss.

    The orchestration is entirely written through, with an unbroken flow of music of the best quality. The voice of the orchestra provides a non-stopping commentary that is always appropriate and expressive, in multiple layers. It flows from solemn to dramatic to ominous to suspenseful with admirable ease. For example, the orchestration acquires a pounding effect in the scene in which Euryanthe is being accused and the ring is being produced as proof of her (made up) unfaithfulness. It's like the harsh words she is being thrown at are hammered in over and over - and then it all becomes piano piano with the shocked and whispering chorus lamenting what they're seeing. This moves with no time left for the pathos to fall down, into a halting, pungent trio in which the two spouses lament their sort while Lysiart continues to be hateful. As the tragedy of the moment downs on the protagonists, the orchestra acquires funebre march-like qualities and reduces the sound volume so that the trio of singers increase their despair/triumph more and more. What a beautiful effect!!!

    Choral pieces are used to excellent effect, without being overwhelming or too intrusive. Ballets are short and artsy.

    The opera never loses pace. It progress inexorably, with very varied scenes - for example, we get the Hunting Chorus that provides a nice folk-like break, as well as melodic bursts like the May Song.

    This is a formidable example of how to set to outstanding music a mediocre libretto.

    Bravo, Weber!

    A+ for the music, C for the libretto, but who cares for the libretto when the music is so exquisite? I'll be listening to this one on CD without the words, over and over.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Red face Der Freitschutz

    I've just bought this:

    51nKmxdqAnL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

    It is a beautiful old fashion version of this opera.



    Martin

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    This version is quite modern...Is it French?



    Sincerely

    Martin

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    Quote Originally Posted by myaskovsky2002 View Post
    This version is quite modern...Is it French?



    Sincerely

    Martin
    No, it is from Baden Baden

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    No success with my little thread. Tant pis! Just too bad! Nobody seems to like this opera.

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/tant_pis

    Martin

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    Senior Member GoneBaroque's Avatar
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    I have not listened to Der Freischutz for quite a while, but I do remember enjoying it especially the very atmospheric Wolfs Glen Scene. I need to pay it another visit to refresh my memory.
    Rob

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    I quite enjoyed Der Freitschutz as well. Recently I posted comments on this recording on the Current Listening thread:



    I actually first heard this Gothic masterpiece a good many years ago... perhaps not long after I graduated high-school but only now have I finally picked up a copy ... and I'm already thinking of grabbing hold of a second (if not a third) recording.

    This particular recording is by Erich Kleiber, father of Carlos Kleiber... who also recorded a classic version of this opera. Indeed, there are a number of highly regarded versions of this seminal opera:

    Erich Kleiber recorded the version that I am currently listening to with the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra and soloists including Elizabeth Grümmer, Rita Streich (one of my favorites among the older singers), Hans Hopf, Kurt Bohm, etc...

    Wilhelm Furtwangler recorded this opera with the same soloists as Erich Kleiber

    Carlos Kleiber recorded the opera in 1973 with the Dresden Staatskapelle and soloists Gundula Janowitz and Peter Schreier

    Joseph Keilberth recorded the opera in 1958 with the Berlin Philharmonic.

    For a historic recording (1955) the sound on this recording is consistently excellent. Even so, I'll probably pick up another copy of this opera as I currently seem to have an obsession with German opera... from Handel to Gluck to Mozart to Wagner to Strauss. Quite likely I'll go with Keilberth... but then again Carlos Kleiber always has something interesting to offer... and in this instance, his is the newest of the great versions... and includes the full libretto.

    Der Freischütz was an instant hit and immediately established the genre of German Romantic opera. Like Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Weber's opera makes use of simple memorable folk-like melodies. In this way Weber's opera contrasted with the more ornate, courtly Italian operas and clearly took the side of the humble German peasants who had long suffered under the rule of foreign potentates. To Mozart's model Weber brought the drama of Romanticism... the "Sturm und Drang" of Beethoven. He also brought something truly new to opera: the element of the supernatural of German Gothic. The scene in the Wolf's Glen, where the two peasant hunters meet with Zamiel, the "Black Hunter" who hunts for human souls, employs a music worthy of Goethe's Walpurgisnacht... and it set a model for an endless exploration of the supernatural in subsequent operas: Charles Gounod's Faust, Berlioz' La damnation de Faust, Boito's Mefistofele, Heinrich Marschner's Der Vampyr, etc...

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    Senior Member Moira's Avatar
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    I don't own a copy, but a friend and I listened to it several years back. Can hardly remember it, although I liked it at the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by myaskovsky2002 View Post
    I've just bought this:

    51nKmxdqAnL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

    It is a beautiful old fashion version of this opera.



    Martin
    Your recording is from the Hamburg State Opera (1968) conducted by the excellent Leopold Ludwig. The cast is so-so apart from the the marvellous Gottlob Frick.
    St.Lukes' is from the archives of West German Radio (1955) and is top class---give me Erich Kleiber rather than his son anytime.
    I am very keen on the Keilberth/Berlin version.
    Elisabeth Gruemmer is such a perfect singer, always grab hold of anything she recorded.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StlukesguildOhio View Post
    I quite enjoyed Der Freitschutz as well. Recently I posted comments on this recording on the Current Listening thread:



    I actually first heard this Gothic masterpiece a good many years ago... perhaps not long after I graduated high-school but only now have I finally picked up a copy ... and I'm already thinking of grabbing hold of a second (if not a third) recording.

    This particular recording is by Erich Kleiber, father of Carlos Kleiber... who also recorded a classic version of this opera. Indeed, there are a number of highly regarded versions of this seminal opera:

    Erich Kleiber recorded the version that I am currently listening to with the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra and soloists including Elizabeth Grümmer, Rita Streich (one of my favorites among the older singers), Hans Hopf, Kurt Bohm, etc...

    Wilhelm Furtwangler recorded this opera with the same soloists as Erich Kleiber

    Carlos Kleiber recorded the opera in 1973 with the Dresden Staatskapelle and soloists Gundula Janowitz and Peter Schreier

    Joseph Keilberth recorded the opera in 1958 with the Berlin Philharmonic.

    For a historic recording (1955) the sound on this recording is consistently excellent. Even so, I'll probably pick up another copy of this opera as I currently seem to have an obsession with German opera... from Handel to Gluck to Mozart to Wagner to Strauss. Quite likely I'll go with Keilberth... but then again Carlos Kleiber always has something interesting to offer... and in this instance, his is the newest of the great versions... and includes the full libretto.

    Der Freischütz was an instant hit and immediately established the genre of German Romantic opera. Like Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Weber's opera makes use of simple memorable folk-like melodies. In this way Weber's opera contrasted with the more ornate, courtly Italian operas and clearly took the side of the humble German peasants who had long suffered under the rule of foreign potentates. To Mozart's model Weber brought the drama of Romanticism... the "Sturm und Drang" of Beethoven. He also brought something truly new to opera: the element of the supernatural of German Gothic. The scene in the Wolf's Glen, where the two peasant hunters meet with Zamiel, the "Black Hunter" who hunts for human souls, employs a music worthy of Goethe's Walpurgisnacht... and it set a model for an endless exploration of the supernatural in subsequent operas: Charles Gounod's Faust, Berlioz' La damnation de Faust, Boito's Mefistofele, Heinrich Marschner's Der Vampyr, etc...
    You have excellent versions indeed...But I think I enjoyed even more the DVD...this is theatre! It is an excellent opera to see at the same time you're listening to. And I can follow the words. Sometimes I put subtitles in English, sometimes in French and sometimes in Spanish...I have this option, not in Chinese because I don't know more than one word in Chinese and I'm not sure the way I pronounce it....LOL The version I have on DVD is quite conventional but well sung. I had a very bad version on CD I bought many years ago. I bought a better version on CD 2 weeks ago, and this new DVD. For many years I neglected this opera and many other classical operas...I was more with dodecaphonic music that I still love...but going back to Wagner (i.e. romantic opera) send me to Weber again....

    Sincerely,

    Martin

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