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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As ideal as I'm likely to see
Back just after the Ice Age I was in NEMS (owned then by Brian Epstein) in Whitechapel in Liverpool when they took time out from pushing Beatles records to air the brand new Solti Der Rosenkavalier, the Marschallin's Act 1-ending aria to be exact. It had just received an uncharacteristically heartfelt and emotional review in the Gramophone. "Is it as good as they say?"...
Published on 10 Mar 2010 by captain cuttle

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3.0 out of 5 stars This production was a disappointment, apart from Renee Fleming all the other characters ...
This production was a disappointment, apart from Renee Fleming all the other characters felt 'wrong'. Baron Ochs was too light weight and displayed non of the pompous gravitas and ignorant arrogance which would have made him a 'comic' figure. Sophie was too old and fat for the part particularly in that nightdress style 'presentation' dress she wore. The first bedroom...
Published 3 months ago by G. Swain


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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As ideal as I'm likely to see, 10 Mar 2010
By 
captain cuttle (Vancouver, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Der Rosenkavelier: Munich Philharmonic (Thielemann) [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Back just after the Ice Age I was in NEMS (owned then by Brian Epstein) in Whitechapel in Liverpool when they took time out from pushing Beatles records to air the brand new Solti Der Rosenkavalier, the Marschallin's Act 1-ending aria to be exact. It had just received an uncharacteristically heartfelt and emotional review in the Gramophone. "Is it as good as they say?" asked one of the customers. The assistant was so choked he could hardly respond. And that's Der Rosenkavalier to me. If you can get though it without wiping away the odd tear, there has to be something up with the performance. This one provides many teary moments and is as close to ideal as I ever expect to find.

Fleming at this stage of her career seems born to play the Marschallin, potentially the best since Schwarzkopf in my opinion, and she certainly delivers here. The range of her acting has improved tremendously. There's an inner wisdom about her sadness that is absolutely perfect for this role. Of course, the voice is breathtaking. But the velvet glove only softens an iron fist where appropriate, where she's ticking-off Ochs for instance. Elsewhere there is an autumnal quality to her voice and her portrayal. More than once the eyes glitter with emotion. In all respects it is a masterpiece of a performance.

But by no means do the positives end there. Sophie Koch as Octavian almost steals the show, for once convincing both as man and maid with her Mick Jagger mouth and unselfconsciously-masculine movements. Her duets with Diana Damrau's Sophie are magical. No bubble-head, this Sophie, but a girl of spirit and self-assurance. In the third act trio the three voices blend perfectly, none submerged, none taking centre stage. Spectacular.

I'm a Hawlata fan and love his portrayal of Ochs, not the usual caricature but a middle aged man still with an eye for the ladies and capable of chasing down the less-wary ones. Perhaps his voice is a touch lighter than the standard Ochs but what you lose in the act 2-closing "dir zu lang" is more than compensated elsewhere.

Franz Grundheber's Faninal, too, steps outside tradition. He is not just a social-climbing sycophant. He is a self-made man with the poise and pride that implies, won over at first by the chance to see his daughter make a good match, angry when he discovers the true nature of his prospective son-in-law.

Jonas Kaufmann, deputizing for an indisposed Villazon, beautifully delivers his star turn as the singer at the levee. This is indeed a dream team.

I was tempted to hold off buying this disc, knowing that Fleming's Met performance with Graham as Octavian and probably Schafer as Sophie would be forthcoming. What tipped the balance for me was the prospect of Herbert Wenicke's stage production and Christian Thielemann conducting the Munich Phil. Neither disappoints. I loved this production with its thrilling use of mirrors, its sense of period without slavish adherence to a period look. It combines the best of traditional ambience with modern techniques to construct a spectacle with which none but the most pedantic traditionalist could quibble. Substituting a pierrot for the little black servant is a wonderful touch entirely in keeping with the spirit of the opera.

Strauss demands a special kind of conductor and since Kempe is no longer with us, one of his successors with one of his orchestras isn't a bad substitute. If Thielemann is rhythmically a little more rigid than Kempe, a little less flowing in the faster sections, he is still able to clarify complex textures and realize the wonders of Strauss's orchestration.

I bought this on blu-ray. Both sonically and visually it does the new medium proud. Extras are interviews with all key cast members and conductor, and are excellent.

In every way, a magnificent version of a magnificent work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ravishing and spot on !, 16 Nov 2013
By 
Mr. Mc Warwick (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Der Rosenkavelier: Munich Philharmonic (Thielemann) [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
As with many Modern versions of operas I bought this with slight apprehension but Wow! I was blown away by the staging and production. Its been many years since I saw authentic productions in the theatre but this was modern theatre at its very best I liked the change of period. All the main characters had such perfect insight into their roles especially the male lead character Baron Ochs - Franz Howlata. I loved his storm through anything, pig headed, thick skinned approach. It made the character so real like someone we all know and hate. Being in more modern dress rather than powdered wig made him more familiar to us all. I am never to happy with the trouser role soprano. I think Strauss could have made more impact with a young lyric tenor singing the part but he had such a passion for the soprano voice and wrote such ravishing music you have to put that aside and imagine that it is a young man. As the love couple Sophie Koch and Diana Damrau were a perfect foil with just enough heaviness on the part of Koch to make her young trouser role underlie Damrau. I always feel that the part of the Feldmarschalin should be taken by a class soprano at the end of her career but Renee Fleming is far from that and took the role with grace and charm. Long may she keep in the spotlight! The changing mirror sets made the whole show blend together. A good thing because this opera can be very static in long passages between action moments.The music was ravishing, smooth and not too sugary sweet. The sharpness came in all the right places and all in all I could not have enjoyed a better production or maybe never will. Also the very low price for a production of this calibre was very much appreciated. Ex - cell - ent!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 12 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Der Rosenkavelier: Munich Philharmonic (Thielemann) [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
This Rosenkavalier is excellent from every point of view.
It is a good modern production without any of the horrors of the usual modern "concept" productions.
Indeed, I actually preferred it to some of the traditional versions.
If you were unlucky enough to buy the recent Die Frau ohne Schatten from Salzburg - forget it
this one will restore your faith in Strauss opera.

All the singers are in wonderful voice, their characterisations are well differentiated
and carry a big emotional impact. Sophie Koch in particular is superb as Octavian.

Christian Thielemann and the Munich orchestra really know how to deliver a Strauss score.

The picture and sound quality are stunning so, in short, this is a Rosenkavalier not to be missed.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm won over!, 28 May 2012
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This review is from: Der Rosenkavelier: Munich Philharmonic (Thielemann) [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
I have an aversion to 'minimal' productions, with a black stage and curtains and nearly no props; you might as well just get the CD and have done with it! This is very different. The mirrors covering the back of the stage, opening up at times to reveal glimpses of scenery are both surreal and very convincing. You aren't distracted from the opera by the gimmick, just accept how it enhances the story but without really thinking of it.
I must confess that I have only seen this opera once before on a VHS with Kiri Ti Kanawa, and although I love Kiri Ti Kanawa's voice and presence, I was bored with the opera! It seemed to dwell on each scene too long and I kept losing interest.
This is different. I was enthralled throughout. Could be the quality of the singers, their voices and their projection of themselves into the roles. I persuaded myself to buy this one, 1st by the price! but mainly by a previous reviewer who praised the quality of the singing. How right he was! Buy it!
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3.0 out of 5 stars This production was a disappointment, apart from Renee Fleming all the other characters ..., 25 July 2014
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This review is from: Der Rosenkavelier: Munich Philharmonic (Thielemann) [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
This production was a disappointment, apart from Renee Fleming all the other characters felt 'wrong'. Baron Ochs was too light weight and displayed non of the pompous gravitas and ignorant arrogance which would have made him a 'comic' figure. Sophie was too old and fat for the part particularly in that nightdress style 'presentation' dress she wore. The first bedroom scene was delightfully acted by Sophie Koch, but thereafter the way she uses her mouth for singing, distorting it was most alienating, particularly in her role as Rosenkavalier. The use of an adult Pierrot as the Marschallin's 'Pet' servant also felt wrong. But for the first Act, I would have given this production a lower rating. Renee Fleming alone deserves praise for her vocally and visually engaging presentation.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Der Rosenkavalier DVD, 24 Jan 2012
By 
Mr. Keith Chauncy "flager" (bournemouth) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Der Rosenkavelier: Munich Philharmonic (Thielemann) [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
This DVD of one of my favourite operas is a joy. The first act shows the two lovers in a very convincing 'after glow' scene. The end of the opera, the parting, gave me a new regard for the acting talent of Renee Fleming, in addition to her outstanding singing voice. Overall, thoroughlty recommended at a bargain price!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Der Rosenkavalier, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Der Rosenkavelier: Munich Philharmonic (Thielemann) [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
I was dissapointed with the sound, whether due to the singers or the sound recording process,Nevertheless Jonas' Kaufmann fine voice came through well enough. Another plus point was the impressive acting of Sophie Koch is to be commended.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent singers drowned by orchestra, 21 Nov 2013
By 
E. WOOLSTON (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Der Rosenkavelier: Munich Philharmonic (Thielemann) [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
The conductor seems to have forgotten about the singers, or perhaps the sound is badly unbalanced. Anyway, the singers were frequently drowned out by the orchestra with only their higher notes breaking through.

On the plus side, Flemming and Koch are totally charming as the field marshal's wife and her 'toy-boy' and when you can hear them they are lovely.

On the whole, I wish I had paid a bit more and got the version with Lott & Von Otter. Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier -- Vienna/Kleiber [DVD] [NTSC] [2001]

Update: After hearing this a few times more I've added another star because there are some really stupendous parts in this production. Renee Flemming is convincing as an attractive older woman trapped in a loveless marriage, charming yet tragic. Koch does a brilliant job in the comic parts and Diana Damrau is heavenly as Sophie hitting some amazing highs and adding just a hint of mischief to her performance. The whole production lays as much emphasis on acting as singing and keeps a fine balance between comedy and tragedy. I did get the Kleiber version and do prefer the conducting and orchestration on that one (see my review) but this one is too wonderful (especially Fleming) for me to regret.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A present for Christmas, 24 Dec 2011
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This review is from: Der Rosenkavelier: Munich Philharmonic (Thielemann) [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
This operatic DVD bought as a Christmas present so cannot comment at this time on the actual sound , quality and standard of the DVD. Good price and rapid delivery so thank you Amazon.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars karajan at his zenith, 8 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Der Rosenkavelier: Munich Philharmonic (Thielemann) [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
This performance is without equal. Karajan in his heyday was a force that has in my opinion never been equalled, Sadly his dynamic interpretations fell away with the years. I get the feeling that the prime karajan rescored elements of the operas because his hand guides you through the drama in a way that is unique. Other conducters have produced different dramas but their musicians too often can be envisaged as accompanyment. With Karajan the art is seemless. With Karajan I dont need the DVD the music stands up without subtitles or interpretation. Some people dont like the way that in mid 19c performances individuality is sacrificed, but for me I dont want new style opera I want the old style, perfect homogenous sound.
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