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Ariadne Auf Naxos: Staatskapelle Dresden (Thielemann) [Blu-ray] 
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Christian Thielemann conducts this Staatskapelle Dresden production of Richard Strauss' chamber opera. The opera follows events at the home of the wealthiest man in Vienna, who has booked both a comedy burlesque act and a serious opera group for entertainment. When the dinner runs long he declares that both forms of entertainment must take place at the same time - much to the chagrin of the opera's proud young composer. The stars of the production include Renée Fleming, Sophie Koch, Jane Archibald and Robert Dean Smith.
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The Prologue is too chaotic and directionless though the are some nice moments of comedy. The productions greatest conceptual strength is the second part after the Prologue, the coming together of high art and low entertainment. The characters for the buffa comedia dell'arte scenes - Harlequin, Scaramouche and Brighella - wear horizontal striped shirts and bright blue pants doing choreographic business with brightly colored shoes on their hands, but they are not really that funny. The trio of Najade, Dryade and Echo look terrific and they sing beautifully too.
Sophie Koch as the Composer is quite wonderful. Her high register is extremely beautiful but the middle has often too much vibrato for comfort. Jane Archibald is pretty good as Zerbinetta, the coloratura all in place. Robert Dean Smith as Bacchus rises to the occasion. His tone is firm and full throughout. Renée Fleming's silken tones grace Strauss' music with warmth, glamour and sensitivity. Once she becomes Ariadne her vocal and theatrical authority are unassailable. The entire duet is beautifully, often thrillingly sung. Glorious Straussian conducting and playing. The combination of Strauss, Thielemann and Renée Fleming is one of the most sublime musical experiences of our time.
Excellent picture and sound. The Blu-ray looks terrific.
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