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Performances from the Komische Oper in Berlin of Beethoven's 'Fidelio', Mozart's 'Don Giovanni', Janacek's 'The Cunning Little Vixen', Mozart's 'The Marriage of Figaro', Offenbach's 'Barbe-bleue', Verdi's 'Othello' and Offenbach's 'Tales of Hoffmann'.

Review: Seven of Felsenstein's productions were filmed under his supervision, some remodeled from their stage versions, some filmed 'straight'. None of them represent 'authentic' versions of the operas at hand; some are in black & white, only one of the seven [Fidelio] is sung in its proper language, and that one is drastically cut [for the better]. But there is a level of dramatic creativity here that is so fascinating, so worth your study and your ponder, that this handsomely produced Art-Haus box cannot be dismissed. And in the case of the 'drastically cut' Fidelio, which is furthermore played in fresh German air rather than on a stodgy stage set, I cannot see anyone going back to all that silly operetta stuff at the beginning of the original score, once we learn the essence of Beethoven's true drama. But it is the Vixen that really sells this set. Felsenstein moved his production from the opera house to East German TV studios, where he could have a free hand with the forest insects and animals, and with the yokels of the human story as well. The interaction among the species is simply fabulous in the literal sense; the wooing of the two foxes will take you to within earshot of Tristan. Rudolf Asmus, who sings the Forester, was one of the few notable stars of Felsenstein's East German company; a few Americans had also slipped through the Curtain and show up in minor roles. Nobody in his company is less than competent; the once-famous Magda Laszlo is Fidelio's Fidelio, the voice-over for a handsome lad who actually looks the part. --, Alan Rich, February 2009

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12 g
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