I read some of the reviews before ordering this DVD
and yes, I must agree with some of them. ANY soprano singing the title-role will probably be older than Arabella should be and once or twice Te Kanawa seems to be a much older sister to Zdenka. Others have criticised her acting ability, but she seems absolutely right for the part-- calm without being placid, sure, honest and wonderfully alert -- and there is quiet humour in her characterization also. This Mandryka will have a marvellous wife. Te Kanawa sings the part marvellously-- this is the first Strauss role I have heard her sing. Her voice is beautiful-- warm, sweet and she floats notes exquisitely-- wonderful all the way through, but more than just wonderful for the Der Richtige, the duet in Act 2 and the Water giving in Act 3.
She is surrounded by others who are fully integrated into the whole production. You can believe in them as characters that Strauss and Hofmannstahl created-- Marie McLaughlin, also in sweet voice, creates a spunky, desparate young girl, Wolfgang Brendl a foreigner, slightly desparate for love and the possibility of rejection, and as the desparate parents, Helga Dernesch and Donald McIntyre are wonderful. All make marvellous foils to Te Kanawa. This comedy of desparation resolved is played in lovely sets and marvellous costumes with an orchestra sensitive to the demands of the sound of a rich Strauss score.
A wonderful treat-- the only reason I do not give it 5 stars is that I reserve the last star for the della Casa, Rothenberger, Fischer-Dieskau performance. I have that on CD but oh, I would give my eye-teeth to have seen that!!