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Strauss: Arabella


Strauss: Arabella


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The first DVD of Renée Fleming The definitive Strauss interpreter of our time (Chicago Sun-Times) in one of her greatest roles. Filmed in HD (High Definition) Widescreen. Production by the venerable opera director Götz Friedrich Among the most powerful creative influences on opera in recent times (Telegraph, London). Subtitles available: English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese

This 2007 Zurich Opera production of Richard Strauss’ Arabella is a winner, mostly due to Renée Fleming who traces the progress of the eponymous character from flighty young flirt to a strong, sensible woman, thus moving the opera from what can sometimes seem a sugary confection to an affecting coming-of-age story. It’s commonplace to praise the beauty of her voice, its rich timbre and easeful production always a pleasure to hear. In this Arabella we also note the acting that makes her transformation into a decisive woman seem natural and inevitable, while her singing fortunately lacks the mannerisms that sometimes creep into her phrasing. In short, she’s the Arabella of our time, and makes this very fine opera seem much more than that. Her sustained high phrases and the soaring lines of the final scene blend tonal beauty, meaning, and emotional power in equal measure. As her sister, Zdenka, soprano Julia Kleiter is a perfect match, almost stealing the show when she and Fleming are together on stage. Though saddled (as per the libretto) with male clothes for most of the opera, she’s as convincing as anyone can be in a pants role and her singing is silvery balm to the ears. Her big Act I duet with Fleming is stunning, the voices blending beautifully, the effect of Strauss’ long lines luminous. The other big role is that of Mandryka, the fabulously rich young man who’s smitten with Arabella. Their marriage is necessary to bail out the finances of the girls’ father, the count. Mandryka, "the right man" Arabella dreams of, is a juicy baritone role but Morten Frank Larsen’s tight voice, bleached tone and effortful high notes don’t make him our right man for the part, despite his youthful vigor and good looks. Johan Weigel, as Matteo, Arabella’s rejected suitor and Zdenka’s secret love, is broadly done as are the girls’ parents who provide suitable comic relief as sung by Alfred Muff and Cornelia Kallisch. Franz Welser-Most conducts the Zurich Opera orchestra and chorus with faceless efficiency. Gotz Friedrich’s minimalist production is off-putting at first, why the Art Deco settings instead of the old Vienna of Strauss’ igt;Der Rosenkavalier, the early success he hoped to duplicate with Arabella. But one soon gets used to the updated setting and it does no violence to Strauss’ intentions, although one does expect a more opulent setting for this opera. The video direction of Felix Breisach is good; the cameras smoothly picking up singers and action. -- Dan Davis

Arabella is an all-regions color disc in 16:9 ratio. Sound options include PCM Stereo and DTS 5.0 Surround. Sung in German, subtitles are available in English French, German, Spanish and Chinese.

Strauss: Arabella

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