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Damnation De Faust [DVD] [NTSC]

Vesselina Kasarova , Paul Groves , Alexandre Tarta    Exempt   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: £9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Vesselina Kasarova, Paul Groves, Willard White, Andreas Macco, Sylvain Cambreling
  • Directors: Alexandre Tarta
  • Writers: Almire Gandonnière, Gérard de Nerval, Hector Berlioz, Johann Wolfgang Goethe
  • Producers: François Duplat
  • Format: Classical, Colour, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English, Japanese
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: ARTHAUS
  • DVD Release Date: 15 May 2000
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004W5WL
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 111,294 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Vesselina Kasarova leads an international cast including Paul Groves, Willard White and Andreas Macco, in this 1999 production of Berlioz's opera staged at the Salzburger Festspiele. Sylvain Camberling conducts the Staatskapelle Berlin.


This imaginative staging of Berlioz's dramatic symphony for chorus, soloists and orchestra relies heavily on the moving of massed choirs across a large stage. It has vivid lighting effects--rather too many of them using strobes--and monolithic multi-purpose sets, in particular a revolving glass drum which functions both as cinema screen and rostrum for singers, so that the final ride to Hell, for example, is sung by Mephistopheles and Faust above a cavalcade of projected horses, like the inside of a zoetrope. The three main soloists have voices on a scale that can compete with these flashy production values--White and Kasarova, in particular, sing at a level of intensity that would swamp anything less; the climactic seduction trio has rarely been sung so well or with such an overpoweringly polymorphous eroticism. Cambreling marshals his forces effectively, giving full rein to the work's showstoppers like the "Hungarian March" but not neglecting the subtler less kinetic Gluckian side of Berlioz's vocal writing. The DVD has subtitles in English, German and Dutch, and menus in those languages, as well as French, Italian, Spanish and Swedish. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THEY FLED TO BLISS OR WOE 19 Nov 2003
This DVD has completed my conversion. All my life I have been used to Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust as a concert work, and I have had no particular view as to whether it would be suitable for staging. The stage-production here is controversial and even provocative, but it has left me in no doubt at all that the work does not reveal its full stature and significance unless it is enacted. That Berlioz was a maverick I take to be a truism. Here is one of the deepest and most searching parables surely in all literature. Goethe’s Faust is not a tragic hero in the Shakespearian sense, with a tragic failing leading to his downfall and death. He is a type of all mankind, embodying the maxim that Stapledon enunciated as Find your calling…or be damned. He is full of ennui, Weltschmerz and general alienation and dissatisfaction. He is not evil or corrupt, but he has hidden the talent that is death to hide, and he is largely a lost soul before Mephistopheles sees an easy prey and unerringly completes the process until all that is needed is his final signature, quickly and casually provided.
Heard and not seen, Berlioz’s Faust is largely a lyrical work. There are intermittent ‘effects’ indeed, and the final ride to the abyss seems to me one of the most thrilling in all music, understated as only a master of hyperbole and overstatement would know how to do; but an astonishing amount of the score is ‘absolute’ music more notable for melody than for overt drama and consisting in large part of instrumental interludes and songs. Now stage the work and see what happens. The music is transformed into a sublime commentary and magnification as the tragedy unfolds with neither haste nor delay. I took in the staging in an impressionistic way, not an analytical one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best ! 9 May 2009
I have just sat through a performance of this at the recommendation of a friend. It is not a work that I would readily have viewed as a theatrical work given that my exposure to date is purely from recordings. What I can say without doubt is that its a long time since saw such an artistically convincing 'modern' opera production (even though the work is not considered an opera per se). This production is riveting from beginning to end. Williard White is exceptional as Mephistopheles, totally inside the role. Vesselina Kasarova is wonderful too as Marguerite and her big moment at the start of Act 4, in particular, showed the voice off as the marvellous seamless instrument that it is. Paul Groves initially seemed a little 'lightweight' for this music but within a short time I was won over too .... very credible in the role. The choir was super also and used effectively to enhance the drama.

I LOVED his production ..... pushing out the parameters and serving Berlioz spectacularly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars strange but watchable 21 Mar 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I have only heard this previously as a concert performance and love the orchestration of Berlioz. Faust legend has also always fascinated me. Hence my purchase. Initially I was bewildered by the masses of people carrying milk churns, and Faust barely distinguishable from the rest. My attention was distracted from the brilliance of the music by the strange staging. As the production continued the situation did not improve. I found myself closing my eyes for long periods to appreciate the quality of the voices. The choral sections were particularly good. The greenhouse in the middle of the set does not really gell, with chorus and soloists climbing up, or meandering in and out at regular intervals. The images projected within it seemed irrelevant, but did have a certain fascination. The booklet which attempts some explanation just sounded pretentious.
The music however is a different world, I have already touched on the chorus, but Paul Grove has a clarity of tone which I have only heard equalled occasionally, definately thrilling to the ears. Willard White vocally can also do no wrong his rich tones blending or contrasting with Grove. Vesselina Kasarova has a beautiful quality of voice, I have a few other operas with her, and at the top and bottom of her range she has power and a rounded quality. This role however is limited and does not make use of her acting powers, which from other productions are considerable. Upon a second watching I found it rather more pleasurable, as I stopped trying to make sense of the symbolism. 3stars may be a bit low, but 4 stars too high.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Salzburg taken over by Belgians 22 Nov 2000
La Damnation is one of my favorite classical works. For years you couldn't imagine it could be staged but the last ten years more and more operahouses did so. I remember a very impressive one in Amsterdam which started blue and gradually went red.
This live performance must have been an overwhelming experience. What they give you here is more than good singing, great acting, superb orchestral playing, but first the design - the way the whole production has been enhanced by special effects right out of Hollywood Studios - has to be mentioned.
Add to all this the great acting and singing of the bass Willard White in his big black overcoat. He is very impressive and with his big body he even manages to dance some steps like an alter ego of Michael Jackson (if you don't like that as a classical music buff you still have to see it because White really sings while doing this).
All in all very convincing.
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