Most helpful positive review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
An exelent production
on July 19, 2004
This is probably the best Hoffman on Video. Domingo is at his peak here, the best Hoffman I've ever heard singing the best I've heard him sing the role. Particularily good are the Ballad of Klinzach and "Amis! L'amour tendre", which is acted excellently by Domingo and features some really great buisness from Anges Balsta, Domingo and the chorus.
The conducting of Pretre is speedy, and most of the time it works, but, in some places (like the Baracolle, sung beautifully) it seems the singes can hardly keep up.
The production values are nothing short of increadable. the late John Schliesinger shows himself to be a capable operatic director, with several nice touches to the production, such as Lindorf appearing at the end of each act, mocking Hoffman and laughing. I would have prefered to see the roles acted by one man, but the seperate apperances of Lindorf do just as well. The begining of the Venice act is very impressive, with the gondolas floating ominously and the writhing orgy taking place on the banks of the cannal. The designs of Maria Bjornson and Willum Dudley utilize the three-story stage excellently, and give each setting a different feel: The tavern a place of grity reality, Paris a zany Victorian invetors lab, Venice a C.B. DeMille nightmare, and Munic the feeling of a derilict, clostrophobic mansion from hell.
The singing, other than Domingo is almost uniformally good. Luciana Serra, as Olympia is fine acting-wise and her voice is pleasent enough, but I don't like her phrasing. Balsta's Guiletta is increadeble, a real stand out. She looks terrific, too. Ileana Cortubas' Antonia sings well enough, but could act the part better, but you warm up to her eventually.
As the Villians, Robert Llyod (asways reliable) is a memerable Lindorf, though he speaks rather than sings Stella's letter and takes his aria much to fast. Sir Geraint Evans is amazing as Coppelius, both zany and extreamly creepy. Seigmund Nimsgern is extreamly hypotic as Dappertutto, and gives the best vocal performance out of the four villians. Nicolai Ghiuselev's Miracle is the production's biggest letdown, as he is overpowered in his two trios easily and acts rather woodenly.
Claire Powell is an excellent and masculine Nicklausse, and makes a ravishing transformation into the muse, where her sdialouge is not as good. In smaller roles, Robert Tear is a memerable Spalanzani and Gwynne Howell is an excellent and touching Crespel. Bernard Dikerson is very funny as Frantz, giving the best acting performance (if not vocal) of "Jour et Nuite" I've heard yet. Paul Crook is execellent as Conchinelle, but not as Andres. Chorus and Orchestral work are both excellent.
This is a production I would highly recomend under any circumstances.