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Rachmaninov;Sergei Miserly Kni

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Product Details

  • Format: Classical, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Russian
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: BBC / Opus Arte
  • Release Date: July 19 2005
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • ASIN: B0009K7J5K
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #186,973 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Cavaliere Avaro (Il) / The Miserly Knight

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Rachmaninoff's Claustrophobic Masterpiece Beautifully Done Aug. 27 2005
By J Scott Morrison - Published on
This production of Rachmaninoff's opera, 'The Miserly Knight,' was part of a double-bill on the theme of avarice at Glyndebourne in July 2004. The other opera on the bill was Puccini's 'Gianni Schicchi,' already reviewed glowingly by me here at Amazon. Stage director Annabel Arden gets credit for making this exceedingly difficult-to-stage opera come alive. She did so at least partly by adding a character not in the score, a figure, played by aerialist Matilda Leyser, who personifies Greed and who also acts out, in a way, the kind of commentary on the action provided by Rachmaninoff's orchestral score. Leyser is stunningly creepy, bringing a kind of subtext to the action that might not otherwise have come across. Arden also gives less than noble instincts to the character of the Duke who in Pushkin's text is rather more of a cipher. In any event, the staging is perfect for this claustrophobic meditation on the power of greed, one of Pushkin's so-called 'Little Tragedies.'

As to the musical aspects of this productions, full marks all round. Vladimir Jurowski, an exciting conductor, is in complete control of the complicated musical textures. Rachmaninoff provided a very dense, almost a-melodic orchestral and vocal score that is psychologically astute; Glyndebourne's house orchestra, the London Philharmonic, has the full measure of it, as do the singers. The middle scene, a 24-minute monolog by the Knight in his cellar with his collection of chests of gold pieces, is masterfully done by baritone Sergei Leiferkus. Also outstanding is huge-voiced basso Albert Schagidullin as the Duke. Only slightly less effective is tenor Richard Berkeley-Steel as the Knight's son, Albert. The only other characters in the all-male vocal cast -- Maxim Mikhailov as the Servant and Vyacheslav Voynarovskiy as the Moneylender -- are excellent.

Extras include a spoken synopsis, illustrated by stills from the production; interestingly, it does not include the slight (but telling) changes in the plot that actually occur in this production (and I won't be giving those plot twists away here), and an extended set of interviews with Arden, Jurowski and Leiferkus concerning their understanding of the opera and their contributions to this production.


TT=95 mins; LPCM Stereo, DTS 5.1; Subtitles English, French, German, Spanish, Italian.

Scott Morrison
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Further info on an outstanding rarity May 3 2009
By A Customer - Published on
Verified Purchase
Rachmaninov wrote only three operas, Aleko, The Miserly Knight (1906, written between the second and third piano concerti) and Francesca da Rimini. The story of 'The Miserly Knight' is essentially philosophical, presented as the tale of how greed robs people of their humanity. It is adapted from Pushkin, and retains most of the elements of Pushkin's blank verse poem.
This is a thought-provoking psychological work set to dark and haunting music. It is not the Rachmaninov of the piano concerti; less lyrical and more dramatic, but just as appealing, with great melodic orchestral sweeps. It is written in the style of German opera - no actual arias to remain in the memory, but very musical (read: listenable and enjoyable) recitative employing leitmotivs. The 'musical' progression comes more from the drama, which leads the music.
This is an opera that must be done well to succeed, and on this performance it succeeds in every respect. It is a masterpiece, and makes you wish that Rachmaninov had written more operas.
The original setting is England in Medieval times, but like so many productions, it has been modernized into an abstract setting of indefinite period. This works well, except for the appearance of one character in a modern suit. The musical performance, as others have observed, is wonderful. The opera was written for Chaliapin, and the Russian baritone, Sergei Leiferkus, is marvelous in that role of the 'miserly Knight', especially in a 20 minute monolog in the second scene. This amazing passage justifies buying the DVD just for that passage alone.
Most of the small cast is Russian and there is not one weak link. Jarowski, with one of the world's greatest orchestras, captures the unique Russian feel, and interprets every part of the score perfectly.
If you look at my reviews, they are nearly all 5 stars: this is because I only review releases that I think are excellent, wanting to share an enjoyable performance with others. This release is an absolute must for every lover of late-romantic opera, (it deserves 6 stars), one of the best releases of any genre it has been my pleasure to review. Recorded with high-definition cameras, and with top-rate 5.1 sound engineering; this coupled with excellent camera work and direction (I was looking for Brian Large's name in the credits, in vain) you are provided with a technically first-class record of the performance. Sound, 5.1 DTS, image 16:9, duration approx. 95 minutes.. (If you know someone with a large screen projection system, say 100" or more) and good surround sound, prevail on them to let you watch this on such a system). Buy it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Great opera and production May 20 2007
By A. Lupu - Published on
Verified Purchase
Not much of a plot, but who cares. The music is great and the signing just beautiful. The long monologue (about 24 minutes) is opera at its best. The soul, and not necessarily the best moral one, put in music.

worth listening many times.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Gloriously dark brooding music you'll love! Nov. 11 2008
By P. Sutherland - Published on
I can hardly add to the comments of previous reviewers with whom I am in complete agreement. But, I wanted to do some raving myself. The music of this short drama is so dark and powerful and beautiful, you will marvel at it and want to hear it again and again. The production and entire cast are simply perfect; I can't imagine this story done any other way.

Sergei Leiferkus in the title role as the baron gives a ten star performance. Matilda Leyser, the aerialist who appears with the knight as a haunting, shadowy, creepy presence accentuates the brooding power of the music. She's like a demonic spider dangling within reach, revelling at the baron's twisted greed. In other productions where an extra character is thrown in by the director I find this very irritating, but here, it works.

Vladimir Jurowski brings the music to its ultimate expression.

You'll love this!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Very fine on its own but get the Blu-ray version for Puccini as well July 29 2012
By I. Giles - Published on
The Miserly Knight was composed by Rachmaninov in 1904 when he was only 30. The original tale was written by Pushkin as one of an intended series of poems depicting the 7 deadly sins. In the event only 4 were completed and none of them were intended for performance. For this rarely-performed work Rachmaninov set the story almost word for word from the original and thus dispensed with a librettist. It is told in three scenes with 5 principals and no chorus.

To quote the sleeve notes: `The narrative is so bald, it can be compressed into two sentences. The Baron keeps his son Albert in penury, compelling him to rely on moneylenders for finance and finally to throw himself on the mercy of the local feudal duke. When the duke confronts the Baron with his miserly greed, the Baron slanders Albert, is challenged to a duel, and in a state of shock, collapses and dies'.

There is a central 20 minute monologue where the Baron broods on his accumulated wealth during which nothing dramatic happens. This situation seems unpromising but omits the extraordinarily effective and vital role of Rachmaninov's orchestration. Those who are familiar with his `Isle of the Dead' symphonic work will be aware of his considerable abilities in painting such atmospheric scenes by way of orchestral colouring. This grim tale therefore fits the composer's psyche and musical imagination and skills perfectly and the result is a compressed tale of gripping dramatic effect.

The Glyndebourne setting of this tale is fittingly dark and forbidding, lacking in any civilising softness. Jurowski is able to conjure up powerfully dark textures and sounds from the fine London Philharmonic which is on top form. The roles of the Baron (Sergei Leiferkus), his son Albert (Richard Berkeley-Steele), Albert's servant (Maxim Mikhailov), the moneylender (Viacheslav Voynarovskiy) and the Duke (AlbertSchagidullin) are all sung and acted superlatively additionally benefitting from several authentic Eastern European vocal textures.

In summary therefore, this claustrophobic tale is given a reading that for many, including myself, would be considered near definitive. The camera work of Opus Arte is ideal as is the sound, presented in PCM 5.1 and stereo. This was enthusiastically received by the Glyndebourne audience even though, for many, it would have been a very dark debut experience.

However this performance is also available on Blu-ray coupled with a near definitive version of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi in an equally fine performance and production. This pair of operas constitutes the whole of the double bill presented at Glyndebourne and is far better value as a purchase. The short playing time and the better value alternative on Blu-ray explains the dropped star to 4.