4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2013
This is considered to be the first ever truly Russian opera, as previously Italian opera seems to have been dominant in Tsarist Russia. The opera even survived the communist regime ( under a different title) because of the excellence of the music. If you buy this DVD you will be treated to an outstanding production with superb performances and staging and will want to watch it repeatedly.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 7 September 2010
Given that DVDs are often half the price of CDs (and you get a feast for your eyes as well as your ears) it is a sometimes a mystery why CDs still outsell their audiovisual counterparts (perhaps because you cannot watch a DVD while driving down the M40).
Another reason is that with CDs you can get the good music while not having to watch dramatically dull operas like this one. Glinka is revered as the father of Russian opera but it has to be said that Glinka's operas - while full of beautiful music - are particularly turgid.
A life for the tsar is basically about 4 characters, one of each voice type. The bass singing Susanin (nesterenko) wanders around looking dignified and benevolent but rarely conveys anything of dramatic import. The tenor (Sobinin) has some clarion high notes and copes well with some fiendish tessitura. The soprano is OK - some slight flatness on occasional high notes notwithstanding - but makes no dramatic impression whatsoever. Best in the cast is the alto singing Vanya, a travesti role. Her eyes sparkle and she is one of the few people on stage who look like they are in a drama rather than some kind of pageant with music. Her aria and her duet with her father are high points in the piece.
All sing well though and give as good a performance of this rather intractable piece as can reasonably be expected
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 12 April 2011
This is a very good opera ,in fact it was the first Russian opera composed.
The music is excellent. The most unusual thing is, that almost the whole Second Act is a Ballet & is very colorful,well performed & very tuneful. My wife , really enjoyed this.
The other title of this opera is IVAN SOUSSANIN who sacrifices his " life for the Tsar "