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Mussorgsky - Khovanshehina [2 DVDs]
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Mussorgsky's loveless and brutal drama of the transformation of Russian society, which led to the rule of Peter the Great within the epic history of Russia, is powerfully modernised through Stein Winge's dramatic and uncompromising production. Performing the version completed by Shostakovich, the outstanding Russian-dominated cast and the orchestra and chorus of the Liceu are led by Michael Boder. Recorded using High Definition cameras and in true surround sound.
"The cast was clearly superior to the one in Brussels . Vladimir Ognovenko's Khovansky was magnificent both vocally and dramatically, creating a really 'hideous' character...Nikolai Putilin made a great Shaklovity... Vladimir Galouzine was an impressive Andrei Khovansky...The chorus gave a magnificent performance...Michael Boder's musical direction is superb..." (Mundoclasico.com)
"The recent Liceu DVD version of the Shostakovich score...has a great deal going for it. First of all, Vladimir Ognovenko as Prince Ivan Khovansky and Vladimir Galouzine as his son are both impressive actor-singers and Vladimir Vaneev's Dosifei almost steals the show. What is particularly striking...is the choral singing, which is not lacking in the black tone and strength of Slavonic rivals. Stein Winge's production is intelligent and unobtrusive and the camera-work is excellent: the eye is always where the ear wants it to be." (The Penguin Guide)
"Gran Teatre del Liceu have produced a number of fine DVDs and this Khovanshchina can be added to that list...I was deeply touched by the present issue, which powerfully delineates the horrifying conflicts that continue to befall mankind. " (Musicweb International)
Vladimir Ognovenko (Ivan Khovansky)
Vladimir Galouzine (Andrei Khovansky)
Robert Brubaker (Vasily Golitsyn)
Nikolai Putilin (Shaklovity)
Vladimir Vaneev (Dosifei)
Elena Zaremba (Marfa)
Orchestra & Chorus of the Gran Teatre del Liceu; Michael Boder
Stage Director: Stein Winge
Catalogue Number: OA0989D
Date of Performance: 2007
Running Time: 192 minutes
Sound: DTS Surround 5.1; LPCM Stereo
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Subtitles: EN, FR, DE, ES, IT, CA
Label: Opus Arte
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Director Stein Winge moves the action forward to the mid-20th century, although he opts for minimalist scenery and the Dance of the Persian Slaves is a night at Ye Olde Opera. Although one is relieved of some the conceptual oddities of the Kirchner production (Abbado), the latter's traditional visual palette was more of a feat for the eyes. Winge's staging plays it pretty straight, with the demise of the Old Believers somewhat disappointing but coming up with a real shocker for Ivan Khovansky's murder.
As Prince Ivan, Vladimir Ognovenko gives one of his most persuasive performances, worthy of comparison with his predecessors. Andrei Khovansky is sturdily sung by Vladimir Galouzine but Nikolai Putilin's Shaklovity has passed its sell-by date, making the prayer for Russia something of a trial. Elena Zaremba's vibrato-ridden singing, reducing the force of Marfa's utterances. By contrast, Vladimir Vaneev has an admirably smooth legato but doesn't seem to have any interesting to say with his fine instrument. The English-speaking contingent acquits itself well. Robert Brubaker is an unusually incisive Prince Golitsyn and it's pure lagniappe to have Graham Clark as the Scribe. There are few Liceo regulars in the supporting cast but Francisco Vas makes plenty of impact as Kuzka.
So while Opus Arte largely has the "Khovanshchina" market to itself, you'll want to comb the second-hand market for Abbado/RM Arts, with Ghiaurov (Ivan Khovansky), Vladimir Atlantov (Andrei Khovansky), Paata Burchuladze (Dosifei) and Ludmila Semtschuk giving the performance of her too-brief career as Marfa. And if you desire a traditional production, set in Peter the Great's time, we'll have to wait for the Maryinsky Opera to get around to it. There's a French telecast of a Maryinsky "Khovanshchina" with the great Olga Borodina as Marfa. Is it too much to hope it can be pried loose for a wider audience?
Il existe plusieurs versions de cet opéra. Celle-ci, choisie par Stein Winge, rejette la pompe et les beaux costumes. Elle refuse la splendeur des mises en scène du KIrov, et se veut plus moderne, pour nous faire sentir que, dans chaque pays, les luttes pour le pouvoir sont éternelles, et que certains nouveaux Messies arrivent encore à mystifier la population par des espoirs fallacieux dans une vie de l'au-delà plus jouissive que l'existence terrienne.
Dans un décor unique, les solistes, tous excellents, se plient à une discipline efficace pour nous faire entendre une musique riche en contrastes et en vibrations aussi bien charnelles que spirituelles.
1) The box claims the production was recorded in high-definition. Even though the DVD is not a high-def DVD, it is very detailed and sharp--one of the best pictures I've seen in an opera DVD, done in widescreen format.
2) The music is wonderful, including some folk song adaptations. Very colorful, produced in great stereo sound. At least on my player, it seemed to be two-channel only.
1) The story is chaotic and gloomy, very hard to follow. All the factions involved are either evil or deranged. It's really about the early career of Peter the Great; but he was kept offstage by imperial censorship, so his story is told through subordinates and enemies. Read a good plot summary from somewhere else before trying to experience this opera.
2) The English subtitles were obviously not written by a native speaker. They are in laughably poor English. It is often difficult to figure out what meaning is intended.
3) Most of the singers are fine, but Elena Zaremba (Marfa) has a severe wobble in this performance that makes it difficult to tell most of the time what notes she is trying to hit.