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Schumann: Genoveva [Blu-ray] [Import]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Juliane Banse, Shawn Mathey, Martin Gantner, Cornelia Kallisch, Alfred Muff
  • Directors: Nikolaus Harnoncourt;Martin Kusej;Ernst Raffelsberger
  • Format: Classical, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC, Import
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Arthaus Musik
  • Release Date: Jan. 26 2010
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B002USGXJ2
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Product Description

Genoveva

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9ad3fb70) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ad3bf00) out of 5 stars Powerful and experimental account of a rare work April 28 2012
By Keris Nine - Published on Amazon.com
Genoveva (1850), Robert Schumann's only opera, was composed around the same time that Richard Wagner was working on material for Lohengrin and the Ring of the Niebelungen and it represents an interesting alternative view of how folklore, mythology and legends could be used as an expression of essential Germanic characteristics elevated through the art of the opera or music drama. Although considered a failure, principally because it is somewhat lacking in traditional dramatic content, Schumann's opera, in contrast to Wagner, would appear however to be more deeply rooted in relating these characteristics elevated in mythology back down to the nature of the individual, and that aspect is emphasised very much in Martin Kusej's staging of the rarely performed work for the Zurich Opernhaus in 2008.

Ostensibly, the work is an account of the medieval legend of the martyrdom of St Genevieve, the story promoting the virtues of truth and purity when Genoveva, the Countess of Brabant, is unjustly accused of infidelity, imprisoned and (in the original legend) executed only for her innocence later to be discovered. While one should expect sympathy to lie with the unjustly maligned Genoveva and with the husband Siegfried whose trust has been abused by his servant Golo, a large part of the opera is given over to consideration of the "lower orders", giving depth to Golo, Margaretha and Drago, and it's there that we find, perhaps, more interesting facets of human nature and German character. These characters would appear to have genuine grievances about their treatment and station, even if their means of wresting back some kind of justice can only be achieved through violence and subversion, and the suggestion is perhaps that these figures have a voice that needs to be heard if such actions are to be avoided.

Using a boxed-in set of pure white walls (although they don't stay that way for long), the set design bears little resemblance to the medieval period setting of the work, Kusej choosing to set the opera in Schumann's own period to reflect the social and political climate as he would have known it around 1848. Within this space, the four figures of the central drama are often present, even if they aren't required to be on the stage. The director also makes use of his now trademark shock tactics of minor nudity and plenty of blood also to tremendous effect. Distancing techniques - the characters laughing uncontrollably during the overture, squashing invisible insects and wrestling with a slippery dead fish - are also used to suggest that the libretto shouldn't be taken entirely literally when Siegfried refers to Genoveva as "a woman of true German stock", while she for her part observes that it's "a blessing to be the wife of a hero", and Schumann's score would tend to suggest that this indeed shouldn't be taken entirely at face value.

Whether you buy into the devices and techniques employed by the director, the staging nonetheless has a striking, distinctive look that commands attention where the drama as it is outlined in the libretto ordinarily might not. Fortunately, this production also has Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the helm and a fine performance of the orchestra of the Opernhaus Zürich, but the singing is strong from an exceptionally fine cast - Juliane Banse in particular outstanding in the rather demanding role of Genoveva. This is far from bel canto however, and if the singing appears unexceptional in some parts, the acting and commitment to the roles proves just as important. The quality of the Blu-ray presentation itself is also good, and the image is relatively clear, although a BD50 disc instead of a BD25 would have resolved some minor occasional compression issues. It in no way however detracts from the overall quality or sharpness of the image or the fine high quality audio tracks in DTS HD-Master Audio 7.1 and PCM 2.0, where there is only a slight dullness in the voices at times due to the boxed-in stage set.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b080ccc) out of 5 stars An uneven piece Feb. 12 2016
By Marcelino Plaza - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Harnoncourt has now announced his retirement. In the last couple of decades he has forged himself an approach to conducting that tends to remind the listener of Otto Klemperer also in his later years of activity. His tempi have slowed and one finds an emphasis in clear articulation and prominence in winds and brass not customarily present in his earlier work but that that was one of the older conductor's fingerprints. To me that's perfectly alright as a lot of inner detail otherwise lost or hard to spot comes out fine. The issue here is the work itself, uneven at least. As is the case of Beethoven in Fidelio, to my view Schumann was not 100% comfortable in the operatic medium. The episodic nature intrinsic to his Faust Scenes allowed that work to come out better in the end, whereas Genoveva fared less well perhaps on account of its continuity as a fully fledged opera which Schumann seems not to have been quite adept at sustaining: one cannot help but feeling a sense of the episodic under the surface in this work too. Never the less this video is well worth investigating, a solid performance, well sung and acted, excellently played by all concerned and intelligently conceived by stage director Kusej (in spite of the odd feature as for example when the chorus throw dead fish at Genoveva, contemporary stage directors apparently can't, or don't know how to, refrain from such normally inexplicable initiatives). A noble failure on the part of the composer perhaps but arguably no Schumann collection is complete without it
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b0802c4) out of 5 stars Horrible staging Feb. 28 2016
By T. Weaver - Published on Amazon.com
The staging is so distracting and awful that it ruins the production. Nice to see this opera but choose a different version. Not worth the money



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