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  • Strauss: Arabella [Fleming, Hampson, Dohmen, Christian Thielemann] [DVD] [2014]
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Strauss: Arabella [Fleming, Hampson, Dohmen, Christian Thielemann] [DVD] [2014]

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Strauss: Arabella [Fleming, Hampson, Dohmen, Christian Thielemann] [DVD] [2014] + Ariadne Auf Naxos: Staatskapelle Dresden (Thielemann) [DVD] [2013]
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Product details

  • Actors: Fleming, Hampson, Dohmen
  • Format: Classical, Colour, DVD-Video, PAL
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Japanese
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: C Major
  • DVD Release Date: 1 Sept. 2014
  • Run Time: 178 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00M0D29EK
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,701 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

'Thielemann gets the best out of the cast especially Renee Fleming with her 'luxury' soprano ' FAZ.

'With Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden the music of Richard Strauss is in best hands.' ORF.

'A terrific Staatskapelle Dresden and the singers are the best you can get.' Das Opernglas.

'Hanna-Elisabeth Muller made vocally a masterly achievment!' Salzburger Nachrichten.


Throughout this highly conversational opera, she remains alive to the nuances of the librettos, listening and reacting to her fellow cast members and keeping herself very much present in the action. --Opera, Jan'15

Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Garrett on 1 Nov. 2014
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This is a very safe and traditional production of Arabella, with the story presented more or less exactly as it should be. The sets are sparse but attractive and the costumes seemed to me to be about the right period (1860s Vienna). The only thing that was missing for me was a staircase in the final Act – the critical entrances of Zdenka-as-a-girl and Arabella-with-the-glass-of-water both really need a long curving staircase to make their proper impacts! Elsewhere there are some nice touches – for example at the crucial moment at the Ball when Zdenko gives Matteo “Arabella’s” key, the Fortune Teller glides slowly across the stage holding up the accusing tarot card, which I thought was brilliant.

This performance really begs the question of how long, in this day and age, singers can carry on singing the parts of young lovers such as Arabella and Mandryka – especially now that we have HD close-up. I have always been a great admirer of Renee Fleming, but I have to say that at 55 she is too old to be singing Arabella. Of course she looks too old, but the worst part is that she SOUNDS too old for it. She no longer has the smooth, creamy tone that she used to have, nor the security of intonation, and she sounds very strained under pressure. Worse still is Thomas Hampson. At 59 he no longer has the look or the sound of the youthful Mandryka (he’s actually three years older than Albert Dohmen who sings Arabella’s father). I had to laugh when he got Arabella’s note at the Ball and had to hold it at arms’ length to be able to read it! I'm very familiar with his problem, but it really doesn't look good here. The best performances by far are Hanna-Elisabeth Muller as an (almost) believable Zdenko/Zdenka and Daniel Behle as an especially ardent Matteo.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Roberto56 on 15 Jan. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I will not write more extensively on this version. I bought it for Fleming - who has not disappointed me - but her Mandryka is really not up to the job. Singers like Larsen, who clearly struggles all the way, should not be allowed to sing next to a first rate star like Fleming. Potential buyers should also be warned that some of the most beautiful music in the opera has been inexplicably cut. When conductors take liberties of this sort, it should be clearly stated 'on the tin': cut version.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By captain cuttle on 27 Aug. 2008
Format: DVD
This may not be the definitive Arabella but it has more than enough going for it. Reservations I had when I bought it were unfounded. After an overly-schmaltzy Capriccio and indications, from her Met Opera interview stint, that Fleming had taken on the mannerisms of a talk-show host, I was not expecting great things from her. But here she is at her formidable best. The voice is in peak condition, burnished but not lacking characterization. Her acting is not quite at today's top level but very accomplished nevertheless. This time she does not overdo the toothpaste smile and gives us the many facets of a character who, let's face it, stands alone in this ship of fools. Despite her age she manages to convince as a young woman in love with the idea of love. Maybe performing on Della Casa's home turf gave her extra inspiration but whatever, this is a great performance.

She is almost matched by Julia Kleiter in the difficult role of Zdenka, coming closer than most to convincing us that a good-looking woman can pass as a man for the first twenty years of her life. She has a very fine voice, totally different in timbre from Fleming's.

After that we go downhill. As the Waldners, Muff and Kallisch cannot hold a candle to McIntyre and Dernesch in the Met performance, likewise for Sen Guo as Die Fiakermilli compared to the young Dessay. But the biggest disappointment is Morten Frank Larsen as Mandryka. The part is such a caricature it's difficult to conceive of any competent actor being unable to bring it to life, but Larsen manages. Plus, his singing is variable at best, with an obtrusive wobble in Act 1. The various suitors are OK without adding or subtracting from the overall performance.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 21 reviews
41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful Arabella 18 Jun. 2008
By Juan Duarte Cuadrado - Published on
Format: DVD
This new release of "Arabella" with Renée Fleming is not just a treat for all Richard Strauss lovers but for all lovers of great singing and acting.
Among all the singers I would point out the revelation of Julia Kleiter as a radiant Zdenka. Her portrait of Arabella's sister is at the same time innocent and full of passion and her voice is unbelievably pure, crystal-clear, a real Mozartian and Straussian singer. I am sure Ms Kleiter will become a great soprano star in this repertoire in the near future.
Morten Frank Larsen, called at the last minute to replace Thomas Hampson, gives a fully believable Mandryka, physically attractive, proud and arrogant as any good Mandryka should be, with a powerful baritone voice only marred by a slight wobble in his higher register.
But what makes this new release really unforgettable is the tender, poignant, unbelievably beautiful Arabella of Ms. Fleming. Her evolution from the flirtatious young woman of the first Act to the romantic, self-determined and mature heroine of the last scenes is utterly believable. Her duet with Kleiter "Aber der Richtige" is pure magic with the voices blending perfectly and her encounter with Mandryka at the Faschings Ball, burns with fire and passion. Her voice, in resplendent, luscious form, soars effortlessly to the highest register. Her last aria, "Das war sehr gut, Mandryka" must rank among the most gorgeous Strauss singing on CD or DVD ever! Above all Ms. Fleming's interpretation will surely make you fall in love with this Arabella.
Brava Ms. Fleming, your Arabella is really Bella!!!!!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The best of three! 14 Nov. 2008
By P. Sutherland - Published on
Format: DVD
I have two other Arabellas, with Kanawa and Brendel and Janowitz and Weikl, and I liked this one the best. I wanted to see Renee Fleming in the part and she was spectacular; beautifully appointed, in fine voice and natural in the role. When Morten Frank Larsen appeared as Mandryka, I thought, "Ooohh la, la! Someone as beautiful as Fleming to play her match!" After a while, I thought he was as much the star of this opera as she was. His acting and singing were terrific and his character seemed believable and natural. (This is contrary to my impression of the opera film with Janowitz and Weikle, who were both way, way, way over the top!) Kudos to this pair!

Julia Kleiter was an excellent Zdenka and Johan Weigel portrayed Matteo very well as the pathetic character he is. Alfred Muff, as Graf Waldner, the father, was wonderful in the role (and the audience showed their admiration at the end). Cornelia Kallisch as the mother was great, too.

I was not too impressed with the Fiakermilli but I don't care for that part at all, no matter who's singing it. The ballroom scene with the fan dancers was the low point for me.

Otherwise, I liked the updated and simple set and costumes.

I also thought Franz Welser-Most did an excellent job conducting the beautiful score. As usual.

If you are new to Arabella, I'd recommend you buy this one!
32 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Sisters are doin' it for themselves... 17 July 2008
By Charles G. Johnson - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As a young music major, my initial attraction to Strauss and to opera in general was through the Solti "Elektra," which thrilled me and stirred my imagination like no other vocal work. I must have worn out the LP copy in the music library at Carson-Newman College, overachieving in drop-the-needle test preparation. My other revelations were the Ormandy-Bach 'St. John Passion' and the incidental music from Hindemith's "Mathis der Maler."

In the following years I've jonesed on countless Salomes and Ariadnes and stretches of the Kleiber "Rosenkavalier," as well as the Hockney "FroSch" from L.A. But, now in my September years, I've come to treasure the sentiments in the final collaboration of Strauss and von Hofmannsthal, the opera "Arabella." Although a flawed dramatic work (the librettist died before he could refine his draft), this return to the city of 'Rosenkavalier' with a financially-challenged heroine embodying all of the sympathetic traits of the Marschallin, and then some, deeply appeals to me. Arabella is an outsider in the social scene of fin-de-siecle Vienna: a sensitive, kind girl seeking the calm assurance of the "right one" above the financial security of the local nobility. She is besieged by four suitors, none of which interests her, and tries to maintain a demeanor of kindness and generosity, but knows that she must make a romantic decision soon in order to rescue her debt-ridden family. She is willing to make the sacrifice, but lives in eternal hope for 'der Richtige.'

Mr. Right actually shows up just in time in the guise of Mandryka, the nephew of a former military colleague of Arabella's father. Mandryka is a sinfully rich landowner in the endless forests of eastern Europe. It's love at first sight for both; he from a photo of her and she from a distant glimpse of him. Of course, Waldner, Arabella's father, immediately approves the union.

Arabella unwittingly snags the richest catch of all, and it's obviously due to karma. The 'in dem wie' of the Marschallin becomes the 'wie ich bin' of Arabella. The love and forgiveness she shows to her sister, who nearly ruins all plans of the arranged marriage, and the final act of kindness Arabella shows toward Mandryka make the spectator's heart swell. The general design of her character as a source of understanding and compassion makes the outcome of this opera unusually satisfying. It just might be my favorite opera at this point in my life.

Now, how has Zurich presented this wonderful stage work? Well, the production is definitely minimalist, with bare, spacious sets, white furniture, and sheer curtains to separate spaces. Fin-de-siecle imagery is traded for a stylized modern look, but the production's costumes reach a fine balance of the modern and traditional. Renee Fleming's costumes are especially lovely; she has seldom been presented in a more flattering light. Her face and figure are absolutely gorgeous, and she compensates for her middle age by playing Arabella in a more coquettish manner than is usual or even logical. However, vocally, she is DEFINITELY the star of the show. There must have been a strict vocal coach on board requiring her to purge most of the vocal mannerisms she has lately brought to her roles...She is great!

I don't like the miking of this production....all performers must have been wearing personal mikes, resulting in a sound without any sense of hall space or resonance. This makes the singers sound more shrill than they would in the house.

As for the rest of the cast, the only other singer to be praised is Julia Kleiter as Zdenka, Arabella's younger sister. With a bit of gel, she creates a male look (for her masquerade as Arabella's brother) that is more believable than you're likely to see in most trouser roles. In the third act, sans gel, the female look is pleasing and natural. Vocally and dramatically, Julia complements and supports Renee at every level and is fantastic just on her own.

Unfortunately, these talented sisters must play to a pathetically parochial cast of singers that exhibits neither top-notch voices nor passable acting abilities. The deal killer is Morten Frank Larsen as Arabella's betrothed, whose European Metrosexual Mandryka in no way embodies the 'halber Bauer' of the character. Nor does he possess the vocal resources to sing this extremely taxing role credibly. On top of that, his voice is disturbingly ugly. Feh!

Better is Alfred Muff, a stage veteran, who shows some polish as Waldner, but who is definitely on auto-pilot. Fiakermilli somehow absorbs the ennui of the production and fails to thrill.

Franz Welser-Moest is, in this case, an incredibly unfeeling conductor, so much so that the tenderest moments that we love to savor are perfunctorily swept through, making it difficult for the principals to effectively emote. The second act is a musical travesty.

So, look elsewhere for your DVD Arabella. The one I return to again and again is the Glyndebourne production under Haitink. Even though Ashley Putnam is not vocally ideal, she captures the inherent dignity and compassion of the character. John Brocheler is visually and dramatically the best Mandryka ever (Bernd Weikl is the best vocally) and baptizes himself at the end with the glass of water in a true stroke of genius.

Kiri Te Kanawa is actually my favorite exponent of the title role, but the Met DVD also sports an insufficient supporting cast and substandard conducting. If you're a fan of Janowitz and Weikl, then, despite a dull visual palette, the recently-released Solti DVD is the one for you.

This one is not.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
bravissima 19 Sept. 2008
By M. Magie - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I would like to add my vote to those of reviewers praising Renee Fleming's performance here. It is absolutely wonderful, both the singing and the acting. Fleming's magical dramatic skill is not often enough praised. Here she captures the subtleties of Arabella's character and her changing feelings and situation with great sensitivity and force. Others have praised her singing (those, at any rate, who are willing to hear her, and don't presume to lecture on how a singer "should" sing) and I second their praise. Her Arabella, like her other Strauss performances, is incomparably beautiful.

The production does not try to capture the stately feeling of mid-19th C Vienna, as the Te Kanawa Met performance does (even rather overdoes) -- so those who like their Strauss served with that more conservative feeling might want to have 2 performances or more of this great work. But that's a good idea in any case. The world is rich in fine performances, and there is no such thing as a "perfect" one; I am pleased to have several Arabellas to enjoy on DVD and CD, and much enjoy their differences. This one by Renee Fleming is at the top of my list. I wouldn't be without it.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Three "BEST" Arabellas" 26 Aug. 2008
By Santa Barbara - Published on
Format: DVD
Fleming seems born to be Arabella. Her conversational style here suits Strauss.She illuminats this opera on a par with two others, Te Kanawa at the Met and Janowitz in Vienna. All three of these dvds are equally good and bring insights into this opera.
Amazed by other reviewers who criticized the singing, I would not want any one fond of Arabella to miss this performance . The singing is better than 5 star. (except Sen Guo's Faikermilli who understandably is not up to that of Guberova or Dessay on the other dvds).
As an compelling inducement to watch this dvd, the Mandryka of Morten Frank Larson reaches beyond the best ever to extraordinary. If you have come to think that good male voices are in short supply these days, the singing and superb acting of Morten Frank Larson will be a new star to blaze into your sky.
The loss of one star is for the set, although is improves considerably during the opera is remains a boring gray-purple box for much of the time--Zurich seems often to have poor sets.
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