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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Low key ShostakovichNov. 7 2009
G. Stefan Lazar
- Published on Amazon.com
This is an opera of high drama and this recording simply doesn't even come close to meeting its dramatic requirements time after time. I'm sure someone will write a more length review so this is my short take. The singers are adequate or maybe a little better at best and there is something in the quality of Jeanne Michèle Charbonnet's voice that I find unpleasant to listen to. The orchestra plays well but doesn't have the sarcastic bite (most of the time) that Shostakovich's music often requires. The same set for all four acts severely limits what the director can do, i.e. keeping the singers at a distance from one another at moments when they should be close. However, the director fails even when this restriction could be overcome. Neither the killing of Boris or his son have any tension, characters are offstage when they should be seen, the sex scenes are nothing more than music, and the drunken party scene of act 3 was rather tame. Act 4 fared somewhat better but not by much. One odd thing -- the orchestra pit was raised and lowered during the interludes on at least 2 occasions that I could see on the video.
Of the two available commercial DVDs, I would definitely choose the one from Amsterdam but the Barcelona (Liceu) performance is good also. However, the best performance possible was done at London's Royal Opera House in 2006. The cast, conducting and setting (Stalinist era) are riveting. It was televised on the BBC. If you know anyone (as I do) that may have recorded it, try and get a copy. It is opera at it's absolute best. Hopefully, it may be released on DVD some day. You can find a few clips on YouTube by using these three search terms -- mtsensk royal opera.
1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great opera by a 20th century geniusJune 23 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
It seems either I was seeing double when I first wrote my review or the image has been changed. Buy the opera for the content. Be aware that there is a revision made by Shostakovich in which he changed the title and added some material. The 1962 title is "Katerina Izmailova", the original dates from 1934. The original, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk of course has nothing to do with Shakespeare. The opera was sharply criticized by the Communist party and was banned for 30 years.