This Zurich production presents only the two acts of the opera completed by Berg at the time of his death. However, the Cerha completion of the third (final) act is widely accepted as true to Berg's intentions musically, and dramatically is unquestionable in completing the story to its tragic ending. It's not a question of debate, as with Cooke's version of Mahler's 10th symphony, the various endings for Turandot, or even the correct score for Mozart's Requiem: the Cerha 3rd act is authoritative and widely performed around the world. So, watching this recording leaves one ultimately frustrated at the incompleteness of the drama and the music. Sadly, there is no special reason within the performance to make it a necessary purchase despite the coments above. The cast, musical direction and production design on the Glyndebourne 3-act dvd are far superior. Apart from Zurich being the theatre of Lulu's original 2-act premiere, there seems no reason for a company not to produce the full version, and it is a shame that the dvd production resources were not used instead for a different, complete opera.
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There is very possibly a case for performing a version completed by some well-meaning musicologist, but the music on this version is what Berg actually wrote. Berg himself requested that no one interfere with the score which does for some of us discredit the version completed by Cerha. As per convention, the incomplete version uses film in the last act, remarkably well done too. Something unbelievably haunting hangs in the air with the music and film as presented here. It becomes almost nightmarish. Laura Aikin presents an excellent Lulu both physically and vocally. I prefer her to Christine Schafer of the Glyndebourne recording. Aitkin is more innocently sexual than purely sensual which brings it closer to the character of Lulu for me. Many Lulus are operatically good but cannot bring off the femme fatale. This one does. The cast generally presents the ironies and cynicism well. I found minor faults but nothing that spoiled enjoyment. The DVD presentation is very clear but more could be made of the sound. Heard through good quality audio equipment the fluffy edges start to show. Very possibly this is the acoustic of the Zurich Opera House (I have not heard it live so I may be accused here! I just hoped for a clearer, more detailed sound). The performance is competent and tends to make something of Berg's beautiful score - too many recordings of Lulu SOUND like Berg without necessarily being what Berg intended us to hear. A great feature of this film is that it concentrates on the Operatic action, not the orchestra and conductor. The Glyndebourne recording is a little different. In total I was disappointed with its Cerha-completed version - sure, he sounds like Berg but is it what Berg would have written? I have my suspicions it probably isn't but as I've made clear, I'm a little prejudiced. Anyone can complete someone else's work - even I would have liked a crack at it but I don't think Berg would have approved!