My rating: 4.5 stars.
This 2011 Gergiev/Kent/Brown/Mariinsky production of Strauss' Die Frau Ohne Schatten has gotten some bad reviews on Amazon, which I do not believe are justified. Yes, I admit that the production itself is highly imperfect... The opening scene (usually sure-fire musical excitement) falls flat; the voices (as mixed in the final soundtrack) are often drowned out by the orchestra; the bizarre pan-Asian cultural appropriation of the Magical realms, with geisha-white-face and the whiff of Colonial India married to Russian nesting dolls and Tibetan temples and Chinese-dragon-patterned Japanese kimonos, is just downright peculiar and out of sync with contemporary culture. And, yes, the all-Russian cast has problems with clear German diction. That said...
Valery Gergiev is an impassioned theatrical conductor of one of the world's greatest opera orchestras. Their musical performance is exciting, muscular, emotionally true. Perhaps a little crude in interpretation on occasion, but always entertaining, often magical, and utterly thrilling when it counts. Once you get past the boring beginning (briefly enlivened by the wonderful singing of Mlada Khudoley's Empress), the opera really picks up in the filthy Laundromat of Barak the Dyer (Edem Umerov) and his Wife (Olga Sergeeva), and cooks along from there all the way to the end. The three brothers are utterly forgettable, but Umerov and Sergeeva deliver great acting, singing, chemistry... even Olga Savova's rather lackluster Nurse comes vividly to life in this section. There was a warmth and humanity that I really appreciate.
This particular production caught on fire in the 2nd Act, thanks to the thrilling performance of Olga Sergeeva's Dyer's Wife. Wow! In her big scene, she really cooks! There are not many opera films which capture that kind of visceral excitement, so this particular performance would be worth owning just for that. But there's more.
The 3rd Act (which too often feels hammy and boring) zooms along in this production. The four principals do a bang-up job. Ignore the Nurse (who is vocally OK but otherwise ho hum). Mlada Khudoley as the Empress, especially, takes her big climactic scene and knocks it out of the park, very enjoyable. Barak and his Wife are also particularly wonderful here. By the time you get to "Nun will ich jubeln," things fairly sizzle.
This production is plagued with cheapness, unfortunately, as well as some questionable decision making in production and direction. The blocking for camera is not great. However, once you get past the first scene, it's never boring. This film made me want to keep watching even though I was supposed to be doing something else, which is always a good sign. And, more often than not, the show was extremely exciting, even thrilling. I turned on the DVD just to see how it was, and, after a good laugh at the beginning and a few caustic comments, kept watching compulsively until the very end!
Other productions may be more consistent or artistically perfect, but this performance has the kind of thrilling moments which opera aficionados crave. That's why I gave it a high score. If you can look past the many, many imperfections, this performance delivers the visceral goods.
- Format: Blu-ray, Classical, Multiple Formats, NTSC, Widescreen
- Language: German, English, French, Spanish
- Subtitles: Russian, English, Spanish, German, French
- Region: All Regions
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Studio: note 1 music gmbh
- DVD Release Date: 22 Jan 2018
- Run Time: 210 minutes
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- ASIN: B00F65N42A
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
60,407 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- #12950 in TV Shows (Movies & TV)