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Humperdinck;Engelbert [Import]


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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Very enjoyable with some reservations Jan. 9 2011
By Mr John Haueisen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
There are many reasons for enjoying this performance of Hansel and Gretel, with just a few reservations.
First, the reservations:

1. Yes, the witch does have a "cooler" filled with the hanging bodies of dead children. I tried to understand the reason behind this, and I think it might be to impress viewers that the witch is an evil person, deserving of the fate that Hansel and Gretel have in store for her.

2. Why does the witch have an aluminum walker? The only explanation I can come up with is that it may be to show her deceptiveness--how she tries to appear as a sweet old lady that "wouldn't hurt a fly."

3. Why does the witch appear early on to have her bare breasts exposed through her blue sweater? I really don't have an explanation for this unless it's some kind of pseudo-intellectual device to suggest that she's presenting a maternal image to the lost children. I just think it was gratuitous and not beneficial to the production.

OK, so what are the reasons for enjoying this performance?

First, the Blu-ray recording allows remarkable clarity of the picture. I almost thought that Hansel and Gretel's house was right there in my living room. Also, the sound (PCM 2.0 and PCM 5.1) was impressive. Be careful, when the witch's oven explodes, it may well frighten your neighbors.

The music is given full justice by the Royal Opera House Orchestra led by Colin Davis. The stage is a more contemporary setting, where you'll see Hansel and Gretel's parents as a working class couple. He comes home from a hard day of work, and she clutches her purse, worrying about family finances.

Hansel is sung and acted perfectly by a tousled hair Angelika Kirchschlager who really comes off as a typical "difficult" brother for Gretel.

Anja Silja does good work as a convincing witch, but I still can't forget that bare-breasted blue sweater--darn them for doing that!

Finally, the best feature of this performance: Diana Damrau. I know what an excellent singer she is, but I simply couldn't imagine her in the role of a little girl. She does it incredibly well. She sings the song about the little man in a purple cloak in the woods, while standing as he did on one leg--which makes his description and her childlike nature more genuine (and it's not easy to sing a song while standing on one leg). Kudos should go to the makeup and costuming people as well for turning such a glamorous and beautiful soprano into a believable little Gretel.

As others have suggested, if you were planning to watch this with children, the hanging dead kids and the bare breasts might be a reason not to. If you love seeing new and different takes on old familiar operas, this is the one for you!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Don't miss this! April 8 2010
By R. T. Combs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This is simply one of the best opera productions I ever saw. Damrau is her usual incredible, magical self and the rest of the cast is equally excellent. The sets and costumes are decidedly non-traditional but they work amazingly well and the staging is a truly magical --- filled with imaginative touches. This is a Hansel and Gretel for people who usually find the opera a bore --- it is mezmerizing --- don't miss it!
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Humperdinck scores big! Sept. 23 2009
By Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
This is one of my new favorite Blu-rays - the picture is incredible and the sound is wonderful. The performers are all incredibly talented, and let me say - this is NOT your typical opera. It's full of hysterical innuendos and the characters expressions are not typically opera (aka they actually have expression). If you're new to opera and wonder how Hansel and Gretel translates to the sung-word, I highly recommend picking this up!

Oh - I should mention that if you're thinking about showing this to your kids, watch it first. There is an interesting twist mid-way through the second act. In true Grimm fashion, Hansel and Gretel is a pretty dark story!
Very enjoyable with a 'technicolour' approach to the production and an enjoyment of the bizarre Oct. 11 2012
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
This production, performance and recording of Humperdinck's perennially popular fairy-tale opera, Hansel and Gretel, is here presented at such an exceptionally fine level that it effectively heads the field with such a lead that it will be hard for it to be seriously challenged in the near future.

The staging and general production is imaginatively inventive with a modern twist to some of the ideas within a basically traditional setting. The witch, for example, has both a broomstick and the use of a Zimmer frame. Her kitchen has what seems to be fairly modern, but suitably large, cooking equipment. Her pantry is a useful storage area for hanging up children's carcasses ready for processing into gingerbread. The forest scenery is effectively utilitarian and the forester's cottage is suitably sparse in its possessions. All of this is brightly coloured and appropriate to a fairy tale with its emphasis on the grotesque and larger than life features.

The cast are ideally chosen for their respective roles and perform with great enthusiasm and sympathy. Angelika Kirchschlager as Hansel and Diana Damrau as Gretel tackle their roles with total relish and the sparks fly off and between them throughout the performance. They dominate the opera and are rarely off stage so that it really makes it vital that this central casting must work well together and so it does here.

The other essential pairing that must work with mutual sympathy is that of the two parents, in this case Thomas Allen and Elizabeth Connell. Both are in fine voice and portray their roles with a real sense of belief even to Allen's description of the witch's reputation and characteristics described in the first act.

The witch herself is suitably over-the-top but made to be part of the modern world as she moves around with the occasional aid of her Zimmer frame. Her laugh is quite a feature and suitably witch-like (I presume!). Anja Silja evidently enjoyed her evil time in this production.

The Sandman, Pumeza Matshikiza, and the Dew fairy, Anita Watson, both make a creditable job of their limited roles and so does the collection of children in the final act and conclusion.

All the afore-mentioned singers are on top form vocally and the orchestra plays with precision and sumptuous tone when required under the experienced guidance of Colin Davis.

The camera work is all that could be desired with crisp imaging which fully captures the mood of the event as well as the very colourful and imaginative settings. The sound is presented in excellent 5.1 surround and stereo.

The bonus features include a 9 minute commentary by Colin Davis in which he expresses his love of the opera and fairy tales. Much the same feelings are expressed by other members of the cast and production team in what amounts to a behind-the-scenes documentary called `Fairytales feature'. Otherwise there is a cast gallery and illustrated synopsis.

In conclusion therefore I would suggest that this is a particularly fine disc of a very popular opera and unlikely to cause offence. The audience were rightly highly enthusiastic and I would expect this to be matched by future purchasers. For these reasons it seems only reasonable to rate this as a secure 5 star issue.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Class Act, Adults Only LOL July 3 2011
By Satish Kamath - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This production is the one of the two that rival the Gruberova/Solti one of the 1980s. True, Hansel and Gretel in this do not look like kids, which seems to be the only criticism that some people have recorded, but with the exception of the Zurich production with Malin Hartelius and Liliana Nikiteanu, no production that I know of has come up to that standard insofar as that kind of criticism goes. This Opera does require some serious singing skills, and I dont think any of the very young brats that are going around can do justice to a blu ray or dvd production of this.

I would also state that this production has been very well made, with no holds barred for visuals that stun and scare the target audience (mainly children, but enjoyed more by adults too), something that Humperdink himself avoided - no matter.
It does not make it yucky like some scenes from the recent MET production (Alice Coote, Christine Schäfer).

I would gladly recommend this as a companion to the Solti production (that was marred by pesky kids hamming it away in the audience being shown from time to time, distracting one from the fabulous film) insofar as the music and singing are concerned. Moreover, it is a Film and not performed on stage like this one..It also scores high above productions that are keen on ruining it be setting the scenes in places like malls and such and trying to modernize it. Singing is top quality and so is the conducting.


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