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Falstaff [Import]

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC, Import
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: German, Italian, English, French, Spanish, Japanese
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Arthaus Musik
  • Release Date: July 27 2010
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I thought that the entire cast of singers was superb, with no weak links anywhere. The fact that they sang in German vs. the normal Italian should pose little problem for English-speaking audiences, since the subtitles are easy to read. As a historic performance, it is top-notch. However, the fact that it is in black and white, rather than in color, with less than perfect video quality might be a problem for some.
There are other, more recent, but still vintage, performances in color and good audio quality available at reasonable cost (e.g., the Met recording with Paul Plishka, Mirella Freni, and Marilyn Horne). Personally, I preferred Horne as Mrs. Quickly, but there is nothing wrong with Elisabeth Hongen's portrayal of the character.
It's not often that one gets a cast with all of the singers having such good quality and tightly focused voices. A decision on whether to buy this DVD will therefore probably be decided by how devoted one is to adding to one's collection some great singers of the past, such as Elisabeth Hongen, Otto Edelmann, and Graziella Sciutti.
Ted Wilks
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa9e7f66c) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8aa1894) out of 5 stars Donald Gramm's Falstaff at Glyndebourne Feb. 9 2005
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle at Glyndebourne in 1976 stars a bass-baritone much-beloved in the US, Donald Gramm, who tragically died at the height of his career only a few years later. I remember with great pleasure his Dr. Bartolo at the New York City Opera (with Beverly Sills) and numbers of recordings of American art songs, most important of which is 'But Yesterday Is Not Today' (still available here at Amazon), a real treasure for anyone interested in that genre. In the present disc he gives us a lovable and not entirely oblivious Falstaff who is a larger-than-life mortal all too aware of his own frailties. There is not the vaudeville mugging and capering that one sometimes sees in the role. As for the voice, which was not huge but was certainly rich, he more than fills the role in Glyndebourne's small hall. His 'Va, vecchio John' in both its appearances is sung beautifully and acted with understated pathos. He delights in 'Quand ero paggio.'

The rest of the cast is, as in many Glyndebourne productions, not internationally well-known (with the exception of the wonderful Benjamin Luxon as Ford, whose monolog is stellar, and Elizabeth Gale, as Nannetta) but they are all really quite good. I was very pleased with the Mistress Quickly of Nucci Condo; is there any other contralto phrase as immediately recognizable as Quickly's 'Reverenza'? It is sung here with resplendent chest voice by Ms Condo. A new name to me was that of Kay Griffel who sang Alice Ford; why had I never heard of her before? She has a lovely lyric soprano and is completely at ease in this leading role and makes a lovable, if deliciously devilish, leader of the merry wives of Windsor. Equally effective in the slightly smaller part is another unknown (to me) singer, Reni Penkova. As Fenton is a lithe youngish Max-René Cosotti with a pleasant light tenor; he and Gale make a handsome young couple in love and their little love scenes, always fated to be interrupted by the action, are fresh and ardent. Rounding out the well-taken solo roles are John Fryatt as the comically pompous Dr. Caius, Bernard Dickerson and Ugo Trama as Falstaff's drinking companions, Bardolph and Pistol. Even the non-singing role of Falstaff's page is well-acted (and the boy playing the role, Paul Jackson, is brought on by Gramm when he takes his own solo bow at the opera's end.)

The sets are wonderful, as they usually are at Glyndebourne, and cleverly designed. No unit set here; each of the opera's perfectly balanced scenes has its own set. Costumes are also really quite beautiful--well, except for Bardolph and Pistol, who always, appropriately, look like what the cat dragged in.

In the pit is the long-time music director at Glyndebourne during the '70s, John Pritchard, conducting Glyndebourne's usual band, the fabulous London Philharmonic. In this, perhaps the most inventive and difficult of Verdi's orchestral scores--it is often said that the orchestra is the main character in this opera--they outdo themselves. Ensemble between orchestra and singers, always difficult in this quicksilver score, is nigh faultless except for a slightly out-of-synch beginning to the 'Pizzica, pizzica' chorus in Act III. Director for this video production was Dave Heather. Videography is crisp and the mix of camera angles is both unobtrusive and apt.

I have not seen the much more recent 'Falstaff' DVD from Covent Garden starring Bryn Terfel. I can only imagine it is wonderful. But for a chamber-sized version I suspect this Glyndebourne release might be hard to beat. I certainly have no complaints. And I was really glad to have this record of Donald Gramm in one of his most subtly sung and acted roles.

TT=118 Subtitles in German, French, English, Spanish, Italian. Sound PCM stereo.


Scott Morrison
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8b2dbac) out of 5 stars a great performance in very mediocre sound May 22 2005
By Dr. J. J. Kregarman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
I bought this DVD because of the above review - and the review is quite correct except that it fails to mention the sound quality which I found poorer than most pirated recordings of the 60's - that is congested and at times unclear. The picture quality also shows its age. Characters can lack clarity at times. BUT the production is wonderful and Donald Gramm is a pleasure.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8df1d68) out of 5 stars A "Compleet" Falstaff Sept. 6 2013
By Steffi B. Rath - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In the good old days in Boston, Donald Gramm - although rather short of stature - was a big, big star. So when I found that his Falstaff existed on DVD, I had to get it, of course. And I definitely was not disappointed.
Of all the "Falstaffs" I own, this one is the most understated - but definitely not as far as the singers are concerned. They are superb throughout.
However, directors have a tendency of "overdoing" this opera with Falstaff coming across as the most hideously colorful buffoon possible. I doubt whether Verdi intended such often overdone, almost obscene goings-on.
In this Glyndebourne production, Falstaff is a silly old man but not a stupid one; a bit foolish and with nothing to think about but his past glory. He is slightly ridiculous but not a caricature. And although we enjoy his comeuppance and laugh at the proceedings, our laughs are gentle - not the frequent belly-laughs that Verdi probably never had in mind.
To me, Donald Gramm must be in every respect the Falstaff as Verdi composed him: his singing and his acting in this not easy part are sheer perfection. And when he redeems himself with good humor at the very end, he is totally believable.
All the other singers fit their roles like the proverbial glove: They are handsome, with lovely costumes and, without exception, great voices.
No matter how many famous Falstaffs you have, do yourself a favor and add this one to your collection.
HASH(0xa8daaf3c) out of 5 stars One of the best Verdi Falstaff on DVD Dec 13 2007
By Anthony Paterno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am comparing this 1976 Glyndebourne performance with that of the
1956 B/W Serafin, 1979 Solti, (date ?)Muti and the 1993 Met-Levine
performances, and I found this performance, despite somewhat dated
sound, to be the best.

The incredible singing and acting by all, Pritchard's inspired conducting,
the camera work, the staging and costumes all excellent.
In fact the entire production was almost like listening to the 1937
and 1950 Toscanini performances with the added benefit of the visual.


Five stars.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8c38f84) out of 5 stars Falstaff auf Deutsch? Ja! Sept. 2 2010
By Jim D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Unless you object on principle to opera performances not sung in their original language, there's a lot to enjoy in this 1963 "Falstaff," made for German television. Otto Edelmann heads an international cast as the fat knight; best known among the other singers are Elisabeth Hongen (Dame Quickly) and Graziella Sciutti (Nanetta), though all are fine. The setting is (happily) traditional, and Hellmuth Matadsiek's direction serves the music, so that in the final fugue all the actors, who have moved off camera, re-enter one by one as they make their musical entrances until the screen is crowded with people, doffing their masks as they repeat "All's a joke." The sound is quite decent mono (Nello Santi conducts the Vienna Symphony), and the black and white film image is mostly very clear. No extras--except for various subtitles--but a detailed booklet. Dare we hope that Arthaus will bring to the U.S. the Mozart scenes from Vienna (filmed in color almost ten years earlier), "Unsterblicher Mozart"?