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Massenet: Don Quichotte [DVD] [2013] [NTSC]

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: José Van Dam, Silvia Tro Santafé, Werner Van Mechelen, Julie Mossay, Marc Minkowski
  • Directors: Laurent Pelly
  • Writers: Jules Massenet, Henri Cain
  • Producers: La Monnaie
  • Format: Colour, Dolby, Digital Sound, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: French, English, Dutch
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Naive
  • DVD Release Date: 1 May 2012
  • Run Time: 172 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005IIA996
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,685 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

This production of one of the late masterpieces of Massenet, 'Don Quichotte', in May 2010 from La Monnaie, was the last great role performed by the feted Belgian baritone, José van Dam. This very special context generates a real intensity, enhanced by the stage direction of Laurent Pelly and the expertise of Marc Minkowski in French opera repertoire, following numerous productions by Massenet, Debussy, Meyerbeer, Offenbach, Auber, Boieldieu, Gounod… > The DVD includes a touching documentary on this production.

Review

***** Performance ***** Recording ***** Extras this is both a profoundly moving take on Massenet s comedie heroique and a treasurable souvenir of a great performer in his final role. --BBC Music Magazine October 2012­

This excellent release with state-of-the-art sound and vision preserves for the posterity the farewell to the stage ... Marc Minkowski s conducting is an ear-opener. He aims for clean, crisply defined sound there is not an ounce of fat on it, no traditional Gallic schmooze, and the orchestra plays wonderfully. I now want to hear him conduct others of the composer s major works. It could be a revelation. --Rodney Milnes, Opera November 2012

Customer Reviews

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With piles of papers and documents piled up on the stage, Laurent Pelly's production design for this 2010 performance of Massenet's Don Quichotte at La Monnaie-De Munt in Brussels looks like something from an art installation, but it serves the opera well and in the process provides a suitable platform for José van Dam's final bow from the opera stage. Taking a dream-like overview of the subject, Act I shows what looks like a the Don's drawing room, where the aging knight is resting sitting in an armchair, a man past his prime, dreaming of better times, of his love for the beautiful Dulcinea that once inspired him to write verses of praise in her name - all of which are piled up in a small mountain below her balcony - and the idealism that drove him to what he believes to be chivalrous and intrepid acts of valour.

The dream world of the knight's idealism in the subsequent four acts is similarly filled with sierras and landscapes made of hundreds of thousands of sheets of paper, reflecting the recreation of Don Quichotte's exploits on paper and the lack of substantiality that these dreams are based on, the valiant knight forgetting that he is now just a foolish old man whose youth has faded. After a 50 year career, José van Dam's voice may also lost some of its youthful vigour and strength, but the passion and sincerity is still there, and in that respect it's a perfect fit for the role of Don Quixote that makes his performance of the role all the more poignant.
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This opera may be unfamiliar to many but fortunately this disc contains a particularly illuminating 52 minute documentary which clarifies much about the entire production. My advice to all future purchasers therefore would be to watch the documentary first then watch the opera next.

In view of the importance and the excellence of the documentary I shall start this review by very briefly detailing its contents. The documentary provides an in-depth coverage of the several months of preparations preceding the performance. José van Dam features in this as an important linking commentator and introduces the auditions and the various stages of soloist, chorus and orchestral rehearsals. The stages of stage design and construction are illustrated as well as costumes and make-up. Acting is rehearsed as well as showing how sword fighting is choreographed to fit the music precisely. The whole concept of the production is explained in detail by the producer and this is interspersed with constructional footage as the sets, costumes and lighting are created and adjusted to fit the concept. All this backstage activity is skilfully cut into extracts from the final stage performance so we can really see how it all goes together, and most importantly, understand why. One is left with an overwhelming respect for such a combination of talents, dedication and sheer sustained hard work.

This production celebrates two important anniversaries - the 100th anniversary of the opera plus the 50th and final anniversary of José van Dam's performing career. Although this marks his last production as a singer, his important future in educational and guidance roles is quite clear judging from his considerable involvement in this production in those key ways.
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A fabulous production of a relative rarity. Visually stunning with strong central performances and Jose Van Dam's farewell performance in a signature role. Very interesting background documentary adds to the total package.
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Watching the great Jose van Dam as Don Quichotte in this production is a moving experience. He brings dignity and realism to the poor, disillusioned but always positive figure, and any flaws in the well-worn voice simply reaffirm the ailing health and advanced age of the Don. Silvia Tro Santafe with her throaty mezzo, never free of the most sensual vibrato, makes an excellent Dulcinee, though she is expected to perform various quasi-acrobatic antics which she very apparently finds awkward. Her voice is an acquired taste: I love it, but there will some who do not. Werner van Mechelen sings beautifully too. His Act IV 'Riez, allez' is superb - it really makes you sad! Marc Minkowksi and the La Monnaie Orchestra and Chorus play and sing beautifully. The principal cellist ought, at the very least, to be beatified for the glorious tone she brings to her prolonged cello solo. The production is quite lovely, easily understood and simply but beautifully realized. In short, this is a "Don Quichotte" to cherish. The stereo sound is more than adequate, though by no means sumptuous.
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