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Il Barbiere Di Siviglia: Bayerische Staatsoper [DVD] [2005]

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Actors: Erika Köth, Fritz Wunderlich, Hermann Prey, Max Proebstl, Hans Hotter
  • Directors: Herbert List
  • Writers: Cesare Sterbini, Ignaz Kollmann, Otto Neitzel
  • Format: Black & White, Classical, DVD-Video, Subtitled, PAL
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: German
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
  • DVD Release Date: 17 Oct. 2005
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B000AC5BFM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,174 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

cantantierika koth franz wunderlich hermann prey compositoregioacchino rossini genere: musica classica

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This performance of Rossini`s Barbiere di Siviglia (in German, Barbier von Sevilla), which I have known for many years from LP audio editions of it, is simply one of the most fun-filled and exciting performances to be had of this great and highly entertaining opera buffa. Forget your scruples about the language in which this marvellous cast sings the opera; it just does not get any better in any language.

In my many past years of opera-going experience, Sarah Caldwell`s live productions, especially the one in Boston, but also in New York City, were tops (Sills either with Kraus or with Gedda, as I recall, with both of whom I witnessed her perform in many roles, as her operatic boyfriend), the only ones (and sung, furthermore, in Italian) to put on the same level with this German-language production. Fortunately, Caldwell`s way with Rossini made it to a commercially recorded edition of the opera, Levine taking Caldwell`s place actually doing the conducting. A less glamourous cast (but still starring Sills) is on Bel Canto`s VHS edition of the New York production, but the hijinx are there. All of Caldwell`s casts (each one of them with Sills) were equally high spirited and, I have to admit, mostly more polished than the singing that surrounds Prey and Wunderlich. However, it is a joy to see those Germans cavort madly as they do!

However relatively rough-house the German production is, with Wunderlich and Prey in prime form, and with such comically astute fellow cast members, this production simply sweeps away any reservations about it! It`s fun, fun, fun all the way!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa0ed833c) out of 5 stars 13 reviews
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa108c954) out of 5 stars Televised opera from the golden age 15 Jan. 2006
By Michael Birman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In an era when Sophia Loren acted Aida while Renata Tebaldi sang it, this television production of Rossini's Barber of Seville was a rarity. Not using the playback method in which actors or singers mime to a prerecorded track, this 1959 production of the Bavarian State Opera was broadcast live on Christmas Day and recorded for television by Bayerischer Rundfunk. It is the superb cast, especially the appearance of the tenor Fritz Wunderlich, that makes it such an estimable historical document.

Filmed in black and white, recorded in mono and sung in German, this DVD will probably be of interest to fans of Wunderlich (who died young at age 35 from a fall in 1966) or of opera performance in it's "golden age". The German adaptation, which I would have thought nearly impossible for the often hyper Rossini, is quite good with only a few clumsy moments where the ornate German syllables outnumber the notes and must be awkwardly crammed into an Italian patter song.

Wunderlich sings Count Almaviva superbly, negotiating this difficult tenore di grazia role with relative ease. His Italianate lyric tenor voice, almost Schipa-like in its clarity, is beautifully present even in this old television recording. His acting is similarly superb, reflecting the intensive lessons he'd had in Stuttgart as a young singer. Videos of Wunderlich in complete operas are a comparative rarity so that this DVD is undoubtedly important for that reason alone.

A youthful Hermann Prey solidifies his position as the finest Figaro in the German speaking world with a sparkling performance. He was an incomparable comedic actor as well as singer and I treasure every performance of his I own. The most interesting cast member is the Wagnerian bass-baritone and THE great Wotan in the Ring cycle at Bayreuth after World War II, Hans Hotter, who died in 2003 at age 94. He sings Don Basilio brilliantly and he's funny! Max Proebstl plays Rosina's dull-witted guardian Don Bartolo, generally hamming it up with slapstick humor and over-the-top sight gags. Rosina is sung by Erika Köth, an excellent bel canto soprano famous in Munich as Lucia. She negotiates Rossini's often fiendish vocal flourishes and fioritura with relative aplomb. Sets and costumes are functional at best; the antiquated set resembles a dainty doll's house and the production is pretty spartan. The Bayerisches Staatsorchester and the Chorus of the Bayerischen Staatsoper are conducted by Joseph Keilberth, who does a creditable job under the pressure of live television cameras. Their performance is quite good though not world class.

The transfer to DVD is expert but be forewarned that the clarity of the image is nowhere near today's digitally clear standard. Television in 1959 was slightly fuzzy though here it is minimal. The image is in black and white and the picture format is NTSC full screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio. Menus are in English with the usual 6 subtitled languages available. During the 1950's microphones from Telefunken and Neumann provided a plummy sound with a rich, warm bloom to recordings. That appears the case here because the DVD's dual-channel mono track sounds eerily modern. It is stunningly lifelike for an old recording. I was amazed by it's clarity and presence!

This DVD is highly recommended for those interested in a video document of Opera in it's "golden age". Taking my provisos into account, you might just discover why artists like Fritz Wunderlich were so treasured once upon a time. This is a time capsule recording worth getting if you are forgiving of it's historical limitations.

Mike Birman
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa12a2408) out of 5 stars If it has color, then 10 stars wouldn't be enough. 9 Feb. 2007
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
I love this DVD to death.

I've got Florez's Madrid version, and love that one too, but ever since I've this one, I just couldn't forget the scenes from this black-and-white version, sung and acted to such liveliness and freshness that it is at once enjoyable and heartbreaking.

The opening duet between Figaro and Almaviva already tells more than enough of the standard for the rest of the show. Hermann Prey at his prime, plus the legendary Fritz Wunderlich in oil-painting attire and postures, sung to utmost perfection of tone and beauty of expression. I almost cried when I saw this scene on Youtube, having seen earlier the DVD of Madrid's performance. I rushed out to get this German DVD, and am so glad that I got it!

Erika Koeth sung a brilliant soprano version Rosina. Her coloraturas virtually blow you off. Her duet with Prey is so vivid and funny.

With these two great duets, I need not say one more word about the ultra-high level of performance by Prey in this DVD.

Wunderlich, not much seen in DVD, was a wonderful singing-actor, not just a first-class lyrical tenor. His Almaviva is totally convincing - aristocratic, lovesick, generous...any young girl would fall in love with.

I am not derogating from Juan's great Madrid performance. But there, he doesn't have any strong supporting cast.

Believe me, this German version is an out-and-out killer!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa15bdeac) out of 5 stars If you like Fritz Wunderlich or Rossini's "Barber" in German, this is for you 23 Jan. 2006
By Alan Majeska - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
If you are a purist about opera or Classical music, believing operas should be performed only in their native language, or seeing Rossini's "Barber" as a Spanish opera, then you should avoid this DVD. But if you like great singing by the likes of Fritz Wunderlich (1930-1966) and Hermann Prey (1929-1998): they have terrific teamwork here - then grab this, by all means! At first the German words for Rossini's "Barber" were disconcerting, but the ear adjusts quickly, and with such wonderful singing and acting, any reservations are swept aside. Hans Hotter is seen as Basilio, in a comic role I didn't know he was capable of; Erika Koth is an excellent Rosina, as seen through the aural lens of Vienese operetta. The Black and white picture is fine, but there are relatively few closeups, and using the "Zoom" function produces some fuzzy looking film. Still, video technology in 1959 was limited, compared with what we have today, and we are fortuneate to have this in DVD form, for the ages.

Joseph Keilberth (1908-1968) leads Rossini in a very Italianate style, the orchestra never being heavy or too serious. The Bavarian State Orchestra made many recordings, but this is my first exposure to them in a Rossini opera.

For a contrast, try Rossini's "Barber" in Jean Pierre Ponelle's film, with Luigi Alva, Teresa Berganza, Hermann Prey, Enzo Dara, and Paolo Montarsolo, with Claudio Abbado/La Scala (DG), sung in Italian, with no audience present. I learned "Barber" from Abbado's recording, and it is very fine, too.

Recommended then, for fans of great singing, of Fritz Wunderlich, Hermann Prey or Joseph Keilberth. I will be watching this repeatedly with much pleasure.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa17c98ac) out of 5 stars It's not really Rossini but it's great 27 July 2009
By Theodore Shulman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
If Rossini had been born in Austria and written Viennese operetta, this would be it. It must not be your only BARBER (if you want to know Rossini) but it's a rare treasure in spite of mono B&W and distorted images. Besides having a unique instrument and a fantastic musical brain, Fritz Wunderlich had the charisma which comes from enjoying things more than most people do.

But don't imagine he's the only legend. Erika Köth owned the "needle-voiced" sopranino roles--Despina, Zerbinetta, even the Queen of the Night; Hermann Prey was the leading high head-voice comic-baritone, the rightful successor to Erich Kunz; Hans Hotter was the most famous Wagner-singer of his generation, and one of the biggest; and Max Proebstl was a celebrated versatile character-bass who recorded as Pogner with Hotter as Sachs in MEISTERSINGER in 1949. Keilberth, who conducts Wagner and Beethoven with ease, leads spectacularly well. He's always good for speed, drama, and grit.

There's a great moment in the First-Act finale when Figaro rushes in to try to quiet things down. Hermann Prey holds his entrance-note for several seconds, and Hans Hotter appears to pluck the note from Prey's lips with his hand. Prey falls silent, and Hotter places Prey's "note" in his own mouth and then makes one of the funniest expressions of disgust I have ever seen. Watch for this.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By drkhimxz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Of all the many talented performers born in the year of my birth, Fritz Wunderlich must stand very high on the list. Here with Herman Prey, and Hans Hotte, we have a trio of voices which create a truly memorable performance. The rest of the featured cast rises to the occasion with superb results. Agreeing with the details of the two major reviewers, I add only that, I too, find the black and white somewhat distracting but the positive overall so outweighs the fault that I can recommend this DVD as the second to whichever of the fine contemporary performances you might choose as your example of how a classic should look on screen today.
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