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Shostakovich;Dimitri Lady Macb [Blu-ray] [Import]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Shostakovich, Jansons, Kusej, Westbroek
  • Directors: Grimm
  • Format: Classical, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC, Import
  • Language: French, Italian, Spanish, German, English, Dutch
  • Subtitles: Dutch, English, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Bbc / Opus
  • Release Date: June 30 2009
  • Run Time: 236 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B0025XW96I
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

Product Description

Mariss Jansons conducts the Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in this performance of Shostakovich's classic opera recorded live at the Het Musiektheater, Amsterdam in 2006.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Vanderghast on March 16 2010
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Some problem with BluRay reader (and CyberLink Dell 8 DX for BluRay, as well as with Sharp Aquos BluRay reader) with fresh upgrade. Maybe this BluRay is too recent... maybe it is the wrong region code, maybe something else... Redoing the purchase, I would go for the DVD!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Laying bare body and soul Aug. 30 2014
By Jeff Wolf - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is an opera more heard about than seen. The facts of its notoriety are well known. After opening in 1934 in Leningrad and Moscow, the opera catapulted the 29-year-old composer to superstardom. Within two years, it had been performed 83 times to sold-out houses in Leningrad, nearly 100 times in Moscow, and reached the stage in London, Stockholm, Zürich, Copenhagen, Argentina, Czechoslovakia, New York, and even Cleveland.

Then on Jan. 26, 1936, Stalin showed up at the Bolshoi to see what the fuss was about -- and all hell broke loose. The Great Leader, entourage in tow, stormed out of his box before the show was over. Two days later an editorial on Pravda's front page condemned the opera and its composer. Lady Macbeth soon disappeared. Shostakovich, declared an Enemy of the People, feared for his life.

After watching Mariss Jansons conduct Lady Macbeth with Eva-Maria Westbroek in the title role in this 2006 Amsterdam staging, the surprise is not that Lady Macbeth upset Stalin, who slaughtered millions on a whim but was a prude on matters sexual. The surprise is that Shostakovich wasn't marched out and executed on the spot -- which I don't doubt would have happened had Stalin witnessed this particular production.

I've seen my two-Blu-ray set from start to finish three times, and I can hardly take in the daring performance Westbroek delivers. I believe there are times she forgets where she is, forgets who she is, so complete is her commitment to the role, so white-hot is her involvement in realizing the multilayered character of Shostakovich's Katerina Ismailova.

Katerina is a bored, rich housewife stuck in a provincial backwater. Her impotent husband has not been able to consummate their marriage, and while he is away on business, she takes as her lover a wandering rake named Sergey who has just begun working in the family factory, then murders the abusive father-in-law who catches her with Sergey. When her husband returns, she and Sergey murder him, then try to flee with the family's fortune before they are arrested and sent to Siberia.

Somehow, Westbroek overcomes our revulsion at Katerina's crimes and, without absolving her of guilt, evokes pathos for her suffering, her isolation, her own betrayal by Sergey with another female prisoner. Katerina wants Life. She wants to be kissed hard, to taste blood, to know what is it to feel truly alive. Actualizing Katerina on stage as this true-to-life woman is no small achievement. Westbroek does it.

Describing the virtues of this overwhelming production could grow to Dostoyevskyian proportions. Christopher Ventris polishes his muscular portrayal of Sergey in Barcelona's 2002 Lady Macbeth Shostakovich - Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk / Secunde, Ventris, Kotcherga, Vas, Clark, Nesterenko, Capelle, Anissimov, Barcelona Opera. The whole supporting cast deserves praise, including Alexandre Kravets, who enacts Shostakovich's version of the drunken porter who gets up in the night to relieve himself in Shakespeare's Macbeth. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra plays as only this world-class orchestra can play. On the podium, Mariss Jansons is so absorbed that the sweat is dripping off his chin within 15 minutes. The camera work, directed by Thomas Grimm, is dazzlingly right.

That camera work is notably effective when Katerina and her Seryózha first make love, as runaway music throbs from the orchestra and pulsating strobe lights heighten the entire episode, right down to its descending trombone glissando denouement.

Which brings up a major caution. On the back cover is printed a warning: "This production contains stroboscopic light effects, nudity and scenes of a sexual nature." To which might have been added: graphic violence and bloodshed. If such elements offend you, avoid this.

Shostakovich's orchestration is modern but accessible. Some people shy away from Russian opera because they say the language doesn't sound musical, but Westbroek does indeed sing. Beautifully. She shreds the heartstrings. Listen to her moan, "Seryózha, Seryózha," toward the final moments of the opera, and you'll understand as you never could otherwise the mournful motif that rises in the fourth movement of Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8, composed 24 years after Lady Macbeth was crushed.

The strongest recommendation for this Lady Macbeth perhaps comes, by accident rather than design, from Westbroek herself. At the end, when the curtain rises to reveal her standing alone to receive the ovation she is due, she puts her hands on her head with a look of astonishment on her face, as though she herself cannot believe what she has done. She has laid it on the line, body and soul, heart and voice, given every ounce of her being to this performance. She barely holds back the tears.

It's a feat Westbroek might not be able ever to duplicate. She doesn't have to. Thanks to Opus Arte's stunning Blu-ray, the whole world can hear it and see it.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This is a hard opera to present on video and this release is pretty good Feb. 16 2010
By John Chandler - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I have purchased every generally available CD, DVD and Blu ray release of this opera and have seen it on TV and in the opera house many times. The combination of violence, sex and tough drama even out on the banks of the Volga are not easy to pack into a commercial production in the theatre and it is not easy to cast. On balance I feel this is the best of modern productions despite some reservations here and there. The Rostropovich version on DVD, dubbed with Czech actors, is wonderfully sung but is heavily cut and today it looks its age. The old Soviet film released a few years ago by Decca is also special but again looks old. I have always had a soft spot for the ENO production with Willard White and Josephine Barstow which was of the original version but this is not officially available. I prefer this new Blu ray to the other Blu ray release from Holland. It is better staged, mostly better cast and with more suitable costumes and sets. The explicit violence and sex is implied rather than spread out all over the stage and I think it is the better for it. There is still room for the ultimate version and perhaps Gergiev will do this in Russia with a full Russian cast, but until then this is the one to go for. Frankly I did not expect it coming from romantic Italy with an American conductor but there you go! Recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The satire doesn't bite, the sex stays out of sight Sept. 1 2014
By Jeff Wolf - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Arthaus Musik must think a large audience wants a PG-13 version of Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, issuing this Blu-ray from the Teatro del Maggio Musical Fiorentino only a couple of years after the blistering 2006 Amsterdam production Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk [Blu-ray]. To judge by a few reviews, some opera lovers are in fact glad to have a Lady Macbeth whose thermostat is turned down a few degrees.

But if the sex and violence are taken out, what's left? Satire -- a trait whose presence in Lady Macbeth this Italian show seems blissfully unaware of.

When the 29-year-old composer's second opera premiered in 1934, Shostakovich was already recognized as a master satirist. His first opera, The Nose (1928), was taken from the satirical story by Gogol (whose name is dropped in Lady Macbeth). Shostakovich's 1930 ballet The Golden Age centers on a Soviet soccer team that travels to a Western city to encounter characters and situations outlawed back in the USSR. His second ballet, The Bolt, revolves around shoddy, subversive work in a Soviet factory.

Lady Macbeth's satire, though, was just a secondary reason the opera brought the fear of death down on Shostakovich's head.

In two years, Lady Macbeth ran up a remarkable box office record. It received 83 sold-out performances in Moscow, nearly 100 in Leningrad. It was staged in New York, Cleveland, London, Stockholm, Zürich, Copenhagen, Argentina, Czechoslovakia. Tickets were in such demand that when Stalin went to the Bolshoi on Jan. 26, 1936, three Moscow productions were running simultaneously.

Stalin didn't stay around to see the end, however. Furious, the butcher of millions who was a prude about sex stormed out, and two days later, an editorial appeared on Pravda's front page denouncing the opera and stigmatizing its composer as an Enemy of the People. For Shostakovich, the fun times were over. And Lady Macbeth was sent to Siberia.

Watching Fiorentino's Lady Macbeth, you could fail to realize any satirical intentions are in play. One opportunity after another is missed, and the lack of bite in the too-polished orchestra doesn't help. Instead, the scenes meant to be satirical must be head-scratchers for an audience not familiar with the opera.

For example, Shostakovich's version of the drunken porter in Shakespeare's Macbeth doesn't stagger in alone to relieve himself in the middle of the night. Instead, he is joined by a chorus line of peasants, who aren't drinking but are still having a gay old time. In this presentation, you'd have to know the joke beforehand to get it. Even if you do, it's a stretch here.

Further, the chief of police is a (literally) moustache-twirling Keystone Cop cartoon who belongs in a farce, not a satire. Plus, the humor of the police apprehending a socialist who insists he does believe in God sails right past.

As for the sex and violence hardwired into the score, the scene of Katerina's adultery with Sergei is demurely hidden behind a wall, and their murder of her husband when he returns from a business trip takes place out of the audience's line of sight. Wearing a white shirt, Sergei emerges from a lengthy whipping by Katerina's father-in-law without a spot of blood showing. Portraying the two lovers, Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet and Sergej Kunaev lack the stage presence and vocal prowess of Eva-Maria Westbroek and Christopher Ventris in Amsterdam. Katerina's falling-off-the-boat suicide is so anticlimactic we hardly notice.

The Italian production has its merits. Vladimir Vaneev reprises his dual role from Amsterdam as Boris the abusive but lecherous father-in-law and as the old convict whose monologue opens Act IV. As Boris, Vaneev makes a good villain and chews up the scenery as he's dying from Katerina's poisoned mushrooms.

One noteworthy feature of the performance is that during some of the orchestral interludes, the floor of the pit rises to stage level, enabling the orchestra to assume its proper role as a character in the action. A nice touch, that.

Because the opera is presented complete on one Blu-ray, there's no room for extras. But it is complete and in much better video and sound than the 2002 Barcelona DVD set Shostakovich - Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk / Secunde, Ventris, Kotcherga, Vas, Clark, Nesterenko, Capelle, Anissimov, Barcelona Opera. So for those who prefer not to see and hear raw humanity in all its ugliness and aspirations, this Fiorentino Lady Macbeth might serve its purpose. If you want the full monty, you'll have to go to Amsterdam.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Overwhelmed. Dec 17 2010
By Ultrarunner - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The first performance of this opera took place in 1934, Leningrad(St Petersburg). It was considered a work of genius in the Soviet Union. The work was also played overseas. Early in 1936 Stalin saw a performance and considered it perverse sexually. Then an editoral in Pravda,the Soviet paper, condemned the opera as "Muddle instead of music". It is believed that the editorial was written by Stalin, or he was behind the attack. Shostakovich was now in fear of his life. At the time, thousands of people including his relatives were disappearing, killed by Stalins minions. The composer withdrew the opera and his forth symphony, which was not seen again in the Soviet union for another thirty years. His 4th to 9th Symphonies the composer considered his tombstones. How he survived Stalin, I suggest you get hold of the DVD, a documentary called Shostakovich against Stalin, the war symphonies.Music conducted by Valery Gergiev.

The staging and dress is traditional . Set in a barn like structure, which eventually becomes a bridge and camping area. Set in late 19th century Czarist Russia, about a rich Merchant who often leaves his wife,who finds a lover because of being bored. She kills the father in law, and both the lover and she murder the husband. His body is found and they are caught. On the way to Siberia,the lover falls for another woman. Katerina the wife, pushes the other women into the water and she jumps in, and they both drown. Rather depressing you might think. The opera has sardonic humour. The conductor James Conlon, an American,brings out the tensions,the raw sexual under currents, emotion and lyrical side of the score. His tempo are brisk and with his Italian Orchestra,bring out the true Russian flavour. Katerina, the merchants wife, Jeanne-Michele Chabonnet, is a dramatic soprano. She could be considered a near mezzo, because of her low notes.She makes you feel sorry for her plight. I wonder why I have never heard of her. She is brilliant in this part. All the singers are good, including Vladimir Vaneev as Boris, the father in law, Vsevolod Grivnov as the husband and Sergej Kunaev as Sergei,the lover. There are no weaknesses in this performance. Also, traditionalists should have no fears about the performance. The sexuality is there, but the director Lev Dodin takes the view that less is more.He does not take any liberties with the stage directions.The reviewer who criticized this performance obviously was watching another opera.

I was simply overwhelmed by this performance. Blown away. Emotionally drained. Wow!

I used a Denon DX1000DB Bluray mini system, which had two speakers,but because of a new invention gives you surround sound. You can use earphones. New to Australia, cost here 1,500 Aus dollars. Region Worldwide. PCM stereo. DTS-HD Master Audio 7.I. 1O80 full HD. Format 16.9.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The composer could have been shot. June 30 2011
By Ultrarunner - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Shostakovich opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, was disliked by Stalin. He had seen it is December 1935. To receive Stalin's displeasure meant that you would be shot. The composer was lucky he was not. I know in jest, some singers actually do think, that a composer should be shot for inflicting some difficult part upon them, but this nearly happened to this great man. He fought back in his so called war symphonies,5-9. There is a DVD on this subject, called Shostakovich against Stalin The war Symphonies.

Mariss Jansons vigorously conducts the Royal Concertgebown orchestra.He is a Shostakovich specialist. The Staging by Martin Kusej,may not appeal to traditionalists.I then suggest you obtain the version conducted by James Conlon with the rough hawn voice of Jeanne Charbonnet. I can recommend this version, as I have it. In this modern staged version, Katerina is well portrayed by Eva-Maria Westbroek,who is also Sieglinde on the Blu ray version of Wagners Die Walkure, conducted by Simon Rattle.She is able to to sing this role, as any aspiring Brunnhilde should be able to do. Sergey is sung by Chris Ventris and Boris is Vladimir Vaneev.All the parts are well sung. For those lovers of modern staging this is a must for your collection.