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

Blu-ray

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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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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 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
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...
13 of 14 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
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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.
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
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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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reposted from Superconductor: "Recovered Voices, Heard Again" Feb. 12 2011
By Paul Pelkonen - Published on Amazon.com
This DVD from the Los Angeles Opera presents a compelling double bill by two composers whose voices were silenced by the so-called cultural policies of the Third Reich. Viktor Ullmann's Der zerbrichene Krug ("The Broken Jug") leads off, a frothy 40-minute comedy about judicial corruption. It is paired here with Der Zwerg, a tragic one-act opera by Alexander von Zemlinksy.

L.A. Opera music director James Conlon staged these works as the first installemtn in Recovered Voices, an admirable initiative to explore and perform the stage works of composers whose works were declared "Entartete", or "decadent" by the Nazis. (This DVD is the first recording of the Ullmann opera.) Krug was completed in 1942, just before the composer was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. (Ullmann's most famous opera, Der Kaiser von Atlantis was written there in the year before the composer's death.)

This work gives listeners the chance to hear Ullmann at his most melodic and inventive, writing for a full orchestra instead of the tiny forces used for Kaiser. The orchestration is rich, the melodies memorable, and the comedy compelling. If history had been different, this work would be a repertory piece, at least earning its keep as a light curtain-raiser.

Der Zwerg is based on The Infanta's Birthday by Oscar Wilde, and retells the story of a Spanish princess who is given a hunchbacked dwarf as a present for her 18th birthday. The dwarf falls in love with the princess, only to have his heart broken. The work had deep meaning for Zemlinsky, and reflects the composer's insecurities through a poetic mirror.

Part of the reason for the work's obscurity is the title role: a demanding tenor part. Playing a hunchbacked dwarf takes the same acting chops as the title role in Rigoletto. Add a voice designed to sing in a heroic tenor--the fach is about the same as Wagner's Lohengrin--and you'll get an idea of the demands. Roderick Dixon handles the high tessitura with skill and a golden tone, although he pushes in the final scene. His acting brings forth the naiveté and pathetique characteristics, which undermine the noble core of the nameless dwarf. This is a major performance.

He is aptly paired with Mary Dunleavy as the cold-hearted Infanta, a spoiled brat who does not understand that her "birthday present" is a human being who has fallen in love with her. Her shimmering soprano skates above the orchestra, reaching heights that recall the best vocal writing of Richard Strauss. Susan B. Anthony is also impressive in the role of Ghita, a compassionate maid who is taken aback at the Princess' cruel treatment of the dwarf. And James Johnson doubles in this opera as Don Estoban, the court chamberlain.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Subject Aug. 6 2012
By Alfredo - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Excelente Blu Ray que hacia tiempo lo estaba buscando, sobre todo una obra de Ullman. El envío resultó perfecto y rápido

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