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Poulenc;Francis Dialogues Des [Import]


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Product Details

  • Format: Classical, NTSC, Import
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Arthaus Musik
  • Release Date: July 26 2011
  • ASIN: B0055ISACW

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Tcherniakov puts his neck on the line June 13 2011
By Keris Nine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
Clever modern concept stagings of opera are all very well in the right place and with the right kind of opera. Sometimes however, it just seems perverse to take them out of their original context, particularly when the opera applies to a specific historical period or event that is explicitly referred to in the libretto. There seems little value then in "updating" Poulenc's 1956 opera Dialogues des Carmélites away from its French Revolutionary setting or the historical incident in 1794 where sixteen nuns from a Carmelite convent in Compiègne were executed for resisting the confiscation of the Church's assets and the dissolution of the order. You just know however that a controversial director like Dmitri Tcherniakov is never going to go down a conventional route.

What he achieves in this production of Dialogue des Carmélites recorded at the Bayerisches Staatsoper in Munich (modern-dress with no nuns in habits) is debatable but interesting. Poulenc based the opera on a play by Georges Bernanos, which in turn was based on an original 1931 novel by Gertrud von le Fort ('Die Letzte am Schafott'), which itself used the subject as a means of commenting on German social disorder following the fall of the Weimar Republic - so it's certainly artistically valid for Tcherniakov to update the work if it's in the service of throwing a new light on the themes. What is rather more controversial is that the director radically changes the original and really quite powerful conclusion of the opera. Tchernaikov's finale, which practically turns the original on its head, is just as powerful and dramatic in its own right, but whether it "improves" or casts any further light on the actions of Blanche de la Force is debatable. It could just be that it's the complete disregard of the traditional approach that is what is really shocking about the ending here, and it results in an equal amount of audible booing and cheers at the director's curtain call.

At the very least however, Tcherniakov's staging forces the audience to think about the subject again in a different way, and it's an opera that really does have a lot of deeper subtexts to be drawn out of it. What makes this production even more worthwhile in this respect is the conducting of Kent Nagano. The music in Dialogues des Carmélites can be a little strange and unsettling, even with some hauntingly beautiful melodies that evoke Debussy's Pelléas et Mélissande, but Nagano seems to bring out those ambiguous qualities of the opera and its similarities to Debussy even more strongly, with a greater sense of warmth and harmony than, for example the Simone Young/Nikolaus Lehnhoff Hamburg production (also on Blu-ray). That harmony and warmth is also more evident in the singing - although not in every case - so I wouldn't necessarily say that one is better than the other, but I certainly find the interpretation here much more intriguing, creating new resonances and opening up the opera in an unexpected way.

Whether the staging works or not in a live context, it certainly doesn't come across well on DVD or Blu-ray. The majority of the opera takes place (as you can see from the cover) within a boxed room on the stage. This means that crossbeams frequently get in the way, obscuring the view of the singers, which is further hampered by a gauze screen that softens the image, desaturates the colours and causes hazy netting effects. The HD reproduction of this consequently isn't good, and the encoding doesn't really help matters, looking rather blurry in movements. Between the net effect and the encoding, this does appear to be a visually substandard release. (Although the cover states it's a BD25 disc it is however, as you would expect, BD50 - ie. dual-layer). The audio tracks are better, the singing mostly clear, the orchestration warm and enveloping, but also revealing a good amount of colour and detail. It's no match for the precise crystalline clarity of the DTS HD-MA 7.1 mix on the 2008 Hamburg Staatsoper production, and if you would prefer a more faithful version of the opera I would highly recommend that release on Blu-ray or the Muti/Carsen production on DVD, but there are enough intriguing elements in the Nagano/Tcherniakov staging to make this certainly at least worth renting out of interest.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Unwelcome finale alteration Feb. 5 2014
By missir - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This warning applies to the DVD of Bayerisches Staatsoper production directed by Nagano and staged by Tcherniakov.

This modernized production of Poulenc's masterpiece flows reasonably well except for the final scene. As was mentioned by several reviewers, the opera is so great that almost any competent production is enjoyable, and this one is no exception, that is until the final scene. Unfortunately, the final scene is so important that destroying it ruins the whole.
Out of some urge for a happier end, they decided to alter the meaning so that instead of dying on the guillotine after her sisters, Blanche - and I quote from the booklet - "..dares to try to prevent the catastrophe which is imminent. At the cost of her life she saves the Carmelite nuns." Apparently, she drags them one after another out of a shack filled with some poisonous gas. This is very humane but it does not work with Poulenc's music which is too clearly punctuated by guillotine knife drops. You can modernize and go against stage directions to a degree but not to the point where the action becomes contradictory with the music. If you want a scene where a heroic woman saves lives in a heroic manner, that could be a great scene but it just would require different music. This is not what Poulenc's music is about.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Review of reviews: which DVD are we reviewing here? June 1 2013
By Nicholas Clifford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Am I wrong, or have the Amazonians hashed up the reviews here? Supposedly they have to do with the Muti-La Scala DVD of the Dialogues, but in fact they seem to be talking about the Opera du Rhin (Strasbourg) version. The latter seems to get 4-5 stars and perhaps La Scala does, though it's hard to to tell.
So while I would probably agree about the performances of this wonderful piece, I would give Amazon one star for messing up. (It's a little bit like a recent experience I had with Spotify, when clicking on what was allegedly a new recording of Beethoven's Kreutzer sonata brought up instead the last act of Don Giovanni).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This Is Powerful Oct. 4 2013
By Chris Reich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Well done. This opera will leave you a little shaken. The theme is brilliantly portrayed. The music and the singing is quite good and the staging is adequate.

The acting sometimes misses the mark as it is hard to discern the emotion being portrayed. Crazy? Scared? Insecure?

This production deserves your attention if you're ready to go beyond Figaro and Aida and have tasted Wagner, then try this modern piece. I'm very glad I bought it.

For clarification: This refers to the Muti conducted La Scala version as pictured here.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
One of my Favorite Operas... Dec 17 2013
By M. L. Barrett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This has always been a favorite opera since seeing it many years ago. This is a very competent production. The music, a very very important part of any opera, is well delivered. The casting and production is ok. I will always like the Met's production especially the finale but this is quite acceptable. Based on a true story, the music facilitates a very spiritual experience that transcends any one performance.


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