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  • Handel: Alcina (Wiener Staatsoper Live) [Blu-ray] [2011]
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Handel: Alcina (Wiener Staatsoper Live) [Blu-ray] [2011]


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Frequently Bought Together

Handel: Alcina (Wiener Staatsoper Live) [Blu-ray] [2011] + George Frideric Handel - Giulio Cesare (Glyndebourne Festival Opera 2005) [Blu-ray] [2010] + Handel: Rinaldo [Glyndebourne 2011] [Sonia Prina/ Varduhi Abrahamyan/ Tim Mead/ Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/ Robert Carsen/ Ottavio Dantone] [Opus Arte: OABD7107D] [Blu-ray] [2012] [Region Free]
Price For All Three: £79.39

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Product details

  • Actors: Anja Harteros, Vesselina Kasarova, Kristina Hammarström, Veronica Cangemi, Marc Minkowski
  • Directors: Adrian Noble
  • Writers: George Frideric Handel
  • Producers: Wiener Staatsoper, Les Musiciens du Louvre
  • Format: Colour
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Korean
  • Region: All Regions (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Arthaus Musik
  • DVD Release Date: 12 Sept. 2011
  • Run Time: 205 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005FAH17K
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,784 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Handels operas are now so thoroughly a part of modern musical life that you might think every major opera house welcomes them. But until November 2010, when it introduced an absorbing new production of Alcina, the Vienna Staatsoper resisted them, not having done a Baroque opera since Monteverdis Poppea in the 1960s. The present production boasted an all-star cast of Baroque specialists, a former director of the Royal Shakespeare Company Adrian Noble, the highly-acclaimed conductor Marc Minkowski and his Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble in the pit. Adrian Noble places his Alcina into a framework which begins in the magnificent ballroom of the Devonshire-House in London Piccadilly. The legendary Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, stages a play in which she is acting together with her friends, a stage on the stage. Alcina is a great musical experience geared to the Baroque curiosity. Marc Minkowski revives Handels music in an outstanding way.

Review

Marc Minkowski and his musiciens du Louvre contribute terrific dramatic flair and,of course,technique and musicanship of the highest order. --IRR,Nov'11

High-quality music-making from Marc Minkowski and his French period-instrument band. Performance *** Picture & Sound ***** Extras **** --BBC Music Magazine,Christmas'11

A Viennese production casts Alcina as a play within a play.Conductor and Orchestra are superb;so is Anja Harteros,who finds real depth in Alcina's passion for Ruggiero. --Gramophone,Dec'11

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Edward Parry on 10 Dec. 2011
Format: Blu-ray
This "Alcina" has much to commend it. It is beautifully dressed and the playing of Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble is superb under the baton of the excellent Marc Minkowski. The production generally works, although some of the antics of the on-stage "audience" are distracting at times, particularly during Ruggiero's showpiece in Act Three.

The singing is more problematic. Anja Harteros is amazing in the title role. She has a big, flexible, steady voice which she uses confidently throughout the performance. At no time does she appear to be under strain vocally and, having striking good looks, she is very believable as Alcina. The men are also excellent. It is a pity that Adam Plachetka, as Melisso, has such a small amount to sing, so rich and secure is his tone. It is also a pity that Benjamiin Bruns, as Oronte, loses his Act Two aria. He has a beautiful voice which is well suited to Baroque music and he sings his other two arias very well indeed. Kristina Hammarstrom is good as Bradamante and Alois Muhlbacher sings the young Oberto very affectingly (it's great to hear a treble sing this role). I was slightly disappointed with Veronica Cangemi's Morgana. The top was not as easy as I expected from her, but having said that she basically gave a good performance.

This leaves the Ruggiero of Vesselina Kasarova. To say that her performance was eccentric is being kind. I have no doubt that she gave the acting performance the director wanted, but I found it to be distracting and, at times, nonsensical. Her singing left much to be desired. Throughout the opera she sang in a very mannered fashion with an alarming break in her voice which she seemed to have to sing over in several of her arias, this making for unpleasant listening. I hope she is able to rectify this in the future.
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Handel's Alcina concerns itself with magic, and this production in Vienna manages to capture exactly that spirit. To begin with the best: the orchestra and its energetic conductor. Superb across the range of moods and situations depicted by Handel. Following close behind is the exacting performance by Anja Harteros, who can be forgiven for appearing slightly fatigued at the end of her marathon performance. For my money the Morgana had some steely hardness in her voice, but she managed to put across a lot of charm. The downside to this set, and it is a big disadvantage, is the performance by Kassarova. Granted this is a taxing and technically demanding role, she nonetheless is miscast and the weak link in an otherwise excellent achievement. One reviewer here has called her acting "eccentric" but her vocal mannerisms are far worse. In the context of an otherwise excellent and tasteful sum of performances she is close to grotesque. I was at the first night performance and she was roundly booed by the audience. A tragedy for a singer of such distinction who has achieved so much in her career. However, let's put this In context, this dvd is a very high quality product (both sound and picture are excellent) of a very special evening at the opera. The additional "behind the scenes" feature was also interesting.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Simon F on 21 Mar. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The production looks good, enhanced by effective lighting and stage design. The idea of having a play within a play works much better than might be imagined, partly because the lighting so effectively isolates the main action from the background. The surround stage action often provides a human frame that actually focuses attention on the centre. Sometimes that focus shifts, as when the fine solo 'cellist becomes a deserved on-stage object of attention in some of the arias.

The acting doesn't always match the ambition of the production. Suspension of disbelief is harder when there's a stage audience, and not all the soloists rise to the challenge. Vocally the performance is uneven. There's too much vibrato in general for it to be successful as an authentic sounding approach. The fast arias seem just a little beyond some of the singers and there are occasional lapses of speed and intonation. Fortunately the best singer has the title role. Anja Harteros is also one of the most convincing actors.

To hear this magnificent music at its best, though, I suggest you try the wonderful Alan Curtis CD, with Joyce di Donato as Alcina and some stunning singing from her co-principals.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Sept. 2011
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
If it doesn't do the mostly static and uneventful nature of Handel's 1735 opera any favours, it's at least appropriate that director Adrian Noble chooses to stage this production for the Weiner Staatsoper entirely within the ballroom of a stately house. Alcina does indeed feel small and intimate - some might say dry and mechanical - the kind of entertainment put on for the amusement of a gathering of nobles at an 18th century dinner party. That's not exactly high-concept, but it's about as adventurous as you're going to get for a rare performance of a Baroque opera at the Vienna State Opera, and if it doesn't do much for the opening up of Alcina, it at least recognises its limitations and, under the baton of the excellent Marc Minkowski, it's about as good an account of the opera as you could expect.

The play within a play concept is only really nominally adhered to, the overture used to set the occasion within Devonshire House, where Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire and some guests (you would only know this from the production notes) put on a performance that perhaps appeals to or reflects their nature. The Duchess becomes the sorceress Alcina, who enchants men and then casts them off, changing them into wild beasts, trees or ghosts, left to roam her island. Her latest conquest is Ruggiero, who is unaware of his fate, but when his betrothed Bradamante (disguised as a man, Ricciardo) and Melisso, her tutor, come to rescue him, Alcina recognises that she may indeed have real feelings for him. There are a few additional complications and the usual identity problems with trouser roles to come to terms with and the fact that Adrian Noble's production has historical figures playing these roles, but it's not as complex as it sounds.
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