I cannot stand so-called Euro-trash productions, but people like to grab hold of that term, and apply it to any modernized opera. This is modernized in the extreme, but with a purpose, and for me, the result is highly entertaining, and turns an imperfect opera (it hurts me to say that, as I think Berlioz is under-rated, and the greatest musical genius of his time).
I must admit, this is my first encounter this work, but far from my first encounter with Berlioz. I am not going to enter into detail of this opera, as that has been thoroughly done by another reviewer. The only trouble with that review, is that it offers critique on the performance as you would if reviewing, say, Verdi's Don Carlo, and reviewing from such a stance in this case, is totally inappropriate.
Obviously, it was decided to produce this in a way that would keep the audience totally entertained, and not notice the weak aspects of the opera. To me, after the initial shock at the very elaborate staging (and quickly realizing, that this was an occasion when a "way-out" reading would succeed. Now this is a rare case where extreme, whacky, modernization fully suuceeds. I can imagine others may not find the approach appropriate.
In considering an opera as a whole and ask "do all the elements work together in unity that leads to a successful production?". For me, the answer is an unequivocal "yes". Berlioz may be confused by it, but I think he would be thrilled as well. The performance could not be in better hands.Kovalevska dazzles with her stunning voice, and personality to match. Fritz as Cellini, is given less of an opportunity to reveal his voice, but when given good opportunities, reveals himself a match for Kovalevska.The other soloists maintain the standard set by the leads. And with the Vienna Phil and Chorus(there are some wonderfful choral sections) under Gergiev, what more could one want? And my answer there, is Blu-ray. Sound and widescren vision present a flawless viewing experience.
This DVD occupies an honoured place in my collection, and I would suggest it hold a sinilar position in the collection of any opera lover who also love's Berlioz. This is the only performance on video media.