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Various Dwarf/Broken Jug [Blu-ray] [Import]

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Product Details

  • Format: Classical, NTSC, Import
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Arthaus Musik
  • Release Date: Oct. 26 2010
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • ASIN: B0040Y7EM4

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An odd couple, but it works... Nov. 13 2010
By Stefan Westerhoff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
I saw Alexander Zemlinsky's The Dwarf years ago on stage and I think it is a wonderful opera - very effective and touching. It is good to see that it's finally out on DVD. It is paired here with a short opera by Viktor Ullmann, The Broken Jug, after the play by Kleist. Kudos to James Conlon and the LA Opera for staging and recording these two operas. They are very different and have nothing in common, but somehow they work well together and make for an interesting evening of 20th century opera. (For those who now fear the worst, let me add that both operas are tonal, and you will even hear some melodies!)

Although The Dwarf was first performed about 20 years prior to The Broken Jug, it sounds more modern. It's lush music, with some exotic elements thrown in. Zemlinsky really deserves to be performed more often, but thanks to conductors like Conlon, it looks like we are getting there.

The real surprise for me was The Broken Jug. Although the Zemlinsky is the more substantial piece, this little comedy is really well-written. The music is a lot of fun, it is quirky and fits the comedy. It reminds me of a modernized Lortzing, which might actually be the idea... It is very fast-paced, and the whole thing is over before you know it. The opera is only about 40 minutes long, and time flies by.

Both productions are completely traditional. There are some nice touches, for example an extensive shadow play during the overture to the Ullmann opera which summarizes what happens before the opera starts. No big names among the singers, but all of them are up to the task.

The sound and picture quality (Arthaus) is disappointing compared to the standard that other labels like Opus Arte have set. The picture is not very crisp and rather dark at times, and the sound seems far away, so one has to play with the settings a bit to get it right. There are no extras on the DVD whatsoever, but there is a little booklet with a good essay by Conlon. I guess one has to be happy that these two gems come out on DVD at all, and shouldn't expect that Arthaus gives them the royal treatement...
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This work captures the soul of Zemlinsky Dec 2 2010
By Ultrarunner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Zemlinsky reached maturity in Vienna, during the fin-de-siecle period when art nouveau was all the rage. Mahler, the greatest influence on his music, was director of the Vienna Court opera at that period. Zemlinsky reached his peak during the first world war. Zemlinsky in his life time was known as a conductor more then a composer.He taught Schoenberg and became his brother in law. Alma Schindler had an affair with him and left, taking up with Mahler, then married him.Zemlinsky never recovered from the ending of this relationship with Alma. Der Zwerg might sum up himself,a very short, unattractive man,who wrote the Zwerg-the Dwarf, based upon Oscar Wildes story, to come to terms with his own inner demons.He was considered too modern for the conservatives and too old fashioned for the avant-guards serialism. He fled the Nazi's in 1934 and Vienna in 1938. He lived out his life alone in the United States and virtually forgotten, dying in 1942. Zemlinsky's best known work is his Lyric Symphony op 18, with poems written by Tagore, translated into German in 1914. A beautiful work. I am a fan of his.

Victor Ullmann served as Kapellmeister under Zemlinsky in Prague in the 1920's. He had also studied with Schoenberg.Both rejected Serial music and were looking for a new music. Ullmann wrote three operas in the Terezin Concentration camp. He wrote the Broken Jug before entering Terezin in September 1942. This is about a comic depiction of a judge in a small town.Ullmann died in Auschwitz in October of 1944. The Nazi's destroyed the lives of so many artists. Will it happen again somewhere?Could the computer be used by a regime to control its people. This performance under Conlon is good.All round good performances by the singers.

Der Zwerg is my prime interest. This is a traditional rendition. The dwarf is an orphan, ugly and deformed, given to the infanta,the daughter of Philip the second of Spain,as a present. She is spoilt, but shallow and living a sheltered existence. All the mirrors have been covered so he cannot see himself. The dwarf is gentle, loving and artistic.He is a court singer. The infanta and the dwarf play together and in her shallow way, tells him she loves him.This is the first person who has said this to him and he believes it,because she has given him a white rose.She tells him he is different from her, and orders her maid to show him a mirror, she refuses.Eventually, the dwarf sees his reflection and refuses to believe it.The Infanta tells him she will play with him as one does with an animal. Broken hearted he dies clinging to the rose. I have told the story of this opera in this review, because it is unknown and revived by the Los Angeles opera.This lyrical opera is conducted passionately by James Conlon,Rodrick Dixon gives a stunningly believable performance as the dwarf, supported by Mary Dunleavy, who is a believable Infanta, and Chita her maid, Susan Anthony,is good in the supporting role.The action takes place in the court of Phillip the second and the dress is of the period.The singing performances are stunning. Well done, L.A opera in bringing alive what should become a classic short opera. I wept at the end of the performance. I still cannot get the opera out of my mind. For I have seen short people and children begging in the streets in India. If you are looking to give a present to a relative or friend, this is it.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rarity Takes Center Stage Nov. 29 2010
By Corno di Bass Trombono - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Der Zwerg (The Dwarf) is an effective opera in a style of late romanticism, and is beautifully sung in this premiere DVD. Those responding to the operas of Franz Schrecker will find much to enjoy here. Its discmate,The Broken Jug by the ill-fated Victor Ullmann makes an effective makeweight, although it fails to hold the interest as the Zemlinsky opera does. The production is most effective, and thankfully undistorted. In these days of idiot director misconceptions we can be most thankful.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dwarf packs a punch! July 3 2011
By operamarty - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I was in the audience for both of these operas and loved The Dwarf - there was complete silence when the curtain fell - no one was even breathing!! This opera was most enjoyable but the ending packs a punch to your head and your gut. Thank goodness we had The Broken Jug afterwards so we could leave the house happier than The Dwarf leaves you - a profound ending. I will add this DVD to my collection and highly recommend The Birds as well. Good productions and excellent performances! Thanks to James Conlon for bringing these operas to us for our enjoyment!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rare offering well worth listening to Feb. 12 2011
By John Chandler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Der Zwerg is the jewel here and it is beautifully staged and performed. Reminiscent of early Schönberg the tonal music is quite easy on the ear and the performance is well worth repeat viewing. The Broken Jug is very light and not as substantial but it is short and colourful. It is so sad that the hated Nazis destroyed so much Jewish talent in central Europe and recent offerings of lost gems are most welcome.
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