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Beethoven;Ludwig Van Fidelio [Import]

Gabriela Benackova , Josef Protschka , Dohnanyi    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 35.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Description


Beethoven's lone opera had a troubled gestation, as its no fewer than four overtures suggest. The finished product, while obviously a work of genius, exposes its patchwork qualities even in the best of productions. Luckily, the 1991 staging by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, is so lucid and intelligent that the opera--a forceful plea for freedom, even in the most severely dictatorial regimes--comes across as both a forceful drama and a thought-provoking message.

Stage director Adolf Dresen, together with set designer Margit Bardy and lighting designer Erich Falk, presents the characters (which on paper have a tendency to remain types) as fully human, their interactions made understandable and plausible not only by Beethoven's humanizing music but also the realistic period settings. Video director Derek Bailey has succeeded admirably at getting this across for the home viewer as well. Musically, this Fidelio is a whirlwind, with conductor Christoph von Dohnányi leading the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and the Royal Opera Chorus in an energetic but never-too-fast performance (by the way, they perform the fourth overture); and the singers are topnotch vocally and dramatically. Soprano Gabriela Benacková makes an arresting, emotionally complex Leonore, and Josef Protschka as her imprisoned husband, Florestan, brings down the house with his impassioned aria at the beginning of Act II. --Kevin Filipski

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid Performance April 16 2003
By A Customer
This is a solid performance that provides a decent idea of what this opera is like. The singing is uniformly good and Beethoven's stirring score provides it share of goosebumps. Some of the singers are pretty effective actors, particularly Rocco. But I find Pizarro a little wooden and un-scary (with an expression suggesting the eating of too many pickles); and Leonore/Fidelio not at ease with her character. Another poster commented on Florestan's plump physique, and I agree; the dungeon seems actually to have agreed with him. As for Leonore, I realize that no woman singing a role in drag could fool anyone in the real world. This Leonore, though, barely tries, given her ample bosom (which is apparent behind her coat) and netted long hair in back. This is asking for a bit too much suspension of disbelief. I would prefer a less buxom singer who looks more appropriate in drag. As for the sets and costumes, they're conservative and rather literal, and don't add much to the proceedings. And while the story may take place in sunny Spain, I would have liked a darker, more forbidding feel.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Okay Dec 24 2001
By A Customer
Good, not great. For one thing, the dialogue is kinky. How could any producer of "Fidelio" omit that wonderful exchange: when Florestan tells his wife how much she's done for him, and she replies, "Nichts, nichts, mein Florestan." A real weeper, for sure. And this guy cuts it. AAAH!
Singing is good. Staging is rather less impressive than the old Glyndebourne production on video. When will someone release Bernstein's production?
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All the elements are there for an enjoyable experience. Whilst not in the front line of operas, such as Aida, Rigoletto, Carmen and La Traviata, Beethoven's Fidelio is composed of music that is deeply satisfying. The story line, when you eventually figure this out (see below), is appealing, even in modern times. The singers are quite competent and photogenic, and sing with feeling and good stage presence. It is somewhat odd that a burly and healthy looking Joseph Protschka sings the part of Florestan, when he is supposed to have been some time in the dungeon, and on "half rations", but, hey, this is opera!
The audio is very good; both PCM Stereo and Dolby 5.1 options are available; thanks mainly to the conductor (Christoph Von Dohnanyi). The video is clear and crisp.
Generally, stage presentations of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden are second only to the Metropolitan's; the less lavish budgets of the former, may account for this. The set lighting for this Fidelio is bright, and the backdrops appealing.
Then why not five stars?
Poor packaging!
It has become standard for DVD operatic presentations to come with no libretto, so I cannot complain about this. But all the packaging gives are the names of the singers. Some of these singer's voices and faces will not be at all familiar to most of us, so it is very confusing at first, to try and identify the singers and the parts they are portraying. Especially so, when, early on, one of the male looking singers, Fidelio (aka Leonore), is clearly a woman (she is - see below), and another woman (Marzelline) is in love with him (her) to the delight of the latter's (Marzelline's) father (Rocco). Confusing isn't it!
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