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Monteverdi, Claudio - Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria / Adrian Noble, Les Arts Florissants, William Christie, Festival d'Aix-en-Provence
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Libretto by Giacomo Badoaro after Homer's Odyssey (Books 13-23)
From the Theatre du Jeu de Paume, July 2002
Production of the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence (2000)
Directed by Adrian Noble, with sets and costumes by Anthony Ward,
lighting by Jean Kalman and choreography by Sue Lefton
Les Art Florissants William Christie musical direction
Soloists of the Academie europeenne de musique d'Aix-en-Provence and of Les Arts Florissants.
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta) (Kann Kundenrezensionen aus dem "Early Reviewer Rewards"-Programm beinhalten)
The poor quality of the audio recording throughout the performance is inexcusable. First, the stage is covered with sand (which works fine as stage craft); however, the sound recording manages to pick up a greatly amplified scrunch, scrunch, scrunch almost anytime a performer walks while singing. This loud scrunching of sand cuts right through the singing. This happens a lot throughout the production. Second, almost anytime a performer is not facing full on to the audience, the volume and clarity of the audio degrades drastically. These two audio problems spoil this DVD as a presentation of what is clearly a magnificent production. I've never come across an opera DVD with anything like these audio problems.
Further, the video recording is spoiled by nearly every single close up starting off out of focus and then being corrected. If you ever want to realize just how many close ups there are in a recording of an opera, viewing this DVD will allow you to do that; they each stand out as an eye sore.
What a terrible shame.
So based on the utterly brilliant staging and costuming married to acting and singing of the very highest caliber of this 2003 Duplat/Christie production of Il ritorno, I had high expectations for the 2010 Pizzi/Christie production delivering all of that while correcting the issues with the audio and video recording. And it did eliminate the audio and video recording flaws. However, the newer production (2010 Pizzi/Christie) did not at all match the level of acting and singing delivered in this Duplat/Christie 2003 production. The wonderful touches with staging and costuming in Pizzi/Christie do not at all compensate for the wooden acting and the dull singing.
Since viewing the 2010 production, I have gone back and again viewed the 2003 production several times. And I have decided that on balance the stellar singing, acting, and staging of Duplat/Christie far outweighs the flaws in audio and video recording on that DVD and place it much higher than the DVD of the Pizzi/Christie production. So I have gone back and upgraded my rating for the 2003 Duplat/Christie
If you are deciding between the DVD for the 2003 Duplat/Christie and 2010 Pizzi/Christie productions, go with Duplat/Christie. If you are getting both, understand that there are flaws with the audio and video recording with the Duplat/Christie, but to get past these flaws give Duplat/Christie a second try after viewing the Pizzi/Christie production and the superior acting and singing in Duplat/Christie will shine through.
Wonderful and terrible at the same time is the fact that "Il ritorno" exists only in fragmented form -- and we do not even know for certain what instruments were intended for the orchestra. That means every time we see or hear "Il ritorno," it is virtually a new work! Scenes come and go, and instrumentation changes according to the whim and/or deep research of the conductor/editor. I adore what Raymond Leppard did with it (and you can still get that version in an old taped-for-TV Glyndebourne release containing a heartbreaking performance of Penelope by the glorious Dame Janet Baker). But William Christie and Les Arts Florissants are the superb early music purists du jour, and I love almost all his DVD stuff, even when the stage direction is total madness -- and sometimes utterly awful as in the multi-media circus of Rameau's "Les Paladins" on Opus Arte (a sort of perverse must-have item).
Anyhow, this disc is just wonderful - and although there is much to quibble about in many of the staging choices - it delivers an emotional wallop. Like most viewer-listeners, I like this bit, then hate that. But I would not be without this DVD! I wish it were on Blu-ray.
As far as the plentiful competition for this "Il ritorno" is concerned, all the discs at Amazon have something wonderful to offer. Too bad the fun, super-souped-up Hans Werner Henze version is going for absurdly high prices -- $75 and way up -- from private sellers.