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4.7 out of 5 stars
13
4.7 out of 5 stars


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This is such a lavish production, by the Met. Top cast, top orchestra, top conducting, top interpretation. Natural acting, if you ignore the 4:3 screen aspect ratio and the occasional distortion in loud passages (it is an oldish video) it feels like watching a movie. The end sequence to act 1 is thrilling. Who'd have thought a domestic setting could do that - Strauss' score helps of course, but it's the combination of that and Kiri te Kanawa and the production that makes it I think.
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on 9 May 2014
Kiri de Kanawa delivers a classic Arabella. For me this is the best, although i am sure that there are excellent modern performances. The Characters are all well played and sung: the card playing father, the fussy mother, the suitors etc. A classic story of love, misunderstandings which keep the poor father away from his card table (of course, Strauss would have known this character well, being such a keen card player himself). No one gets killed (although there is almost a duel!). Great fun. The music is Strauss light: think Rosenkavalier rather than Salome or Elektra. First put on in 1933 when Strauss was almost 70, this looks back to the Belle Epoque before 1914: no reference at all to anything contemporary. Kiri de Kanawa is at her very best here and at the height of her singing career. I know a lot of opera lovers go for death and catharsis (Tosca, Butterfly, Tristan etc.), but this is a real gem for those that love Mozart and Rossini (Strauss himself loved Mozart as much as Wagner). And no one is a better at creating characters than Strauss.
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on 1 February 2013
I sometimes buy opera DVDs for somewhat tenuous reasons, I had just watched a Carmen with Marie McLauglin and I was impressed, what else was she in? Answer Arabella. This turned out to be a good choice for me, not only as Marie maintained her promise, but the whole production is to my liking.
The sets are period and tastefull, adding nicely to the mood. Costumes too are nicely done, ladies in flowing dresses and gentlemen in evening dress.
Kiri Te Kanawa as the lead sails majestically through the various misunderstandings in excellent voice. Donald McIntyre is in fine acting form as her father, and Helga Dernesch flutters through her role in good voice.
Wolfgang Brendel makes an excellent Mandryka, his singing reflecting the wide range of emotions that his wrong assumptions produce.
The spurned lover Matteo, David Kuebler does a good line in starey eyes upon his rejections, he has a tenor of clarity which is to my liking.
Natalie Dessay as the mascot bounces energetically around with great character, but is a bit shrill, usually I like her a lot, but this is going back a bit.
The minor characters are all perfectly sound, no pun intended, so if you like Strauss, Te Kanawa, and McLauglin this could be for you.
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on 18 January 2008
This is a 1994 production of the "lyric comedy" made at The Metropolitan Opera House. The stage direction is by Otto Schenk. It is a sumptuous production in traditional settings and costumes.

Kiri Te Kanawa sings the title role in a ravishing voice. Her portrayal of the title role brings out the serene and loving character of Arabella very well indeed. Wolfgang Brendel - in an honourable but vulnerable role of Mandryka - is convincing as a rich provincial land owner and sings with a firm voice. Marie McLaughlin (Zdenka) is excellent in singing as well as acting as Arabella's younger sister who loves Matteo who in turn is in love with Arabella.

The role of the parents are taken by Donald McIntyre and Helga Dernesch: they are both very good in characterisation. In the ball scene in Act 2, the young Nathalie Dessay (Fiakermilli) is full of character and sings brilliantly.

Christian Thielemann draws a beautiful sound from the orchestra and his direction is exemplary. The recorded sound is rich and clear.
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VINE VOICEon 1 March 2011
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!!
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Arabella was first performed in Dresden in 1933 and it is Richard Strauss' last opera for which the libretto was written by Hugo von Hofmannsthal who died shortly after completing it. This work was, in some sense, an attempt to recapture the outstanding success of the operatic style presented in Strauss' earlier work, Der Rosenkavalier (1911). Although well received it has never gained as much popularity as this earlier work. All that aside, this brilliant 1995 Metropolitan Opera production is a joy to own.

From the start this production benefits from near perfect synchronisation between orchestra, singing, acting and staging. There's no distracting out-of-period costuming or inappropriate staging, which is just right with neither elaborate intrusions nor soul-sinking sparsity. Here we have at least one production in which the Met has done us all proud. The well portrayed characters endear themselves to the viewer in inspiring fashion.

I would say that no composer understood the human voice better than Richard Strauss. It's so inspiring the way in which his music interprets the natural nuances of everyday speech. An example of this is right at the beginning of the work when the Countess Adelaide is consulting a fortune teller. You don't even need to know what they're saying to realise the type of emotions involved.

The voice of Kiri te Kanawa is perfectly suited for the lead role of Arabella and it's an inspiration to own this recording of this great soprano singing at her best, and Marie McLaughlin gives us a convincing Zdenka, who spends most of the time dressed as a young man, because it has been predicted that, should the Waldners have two daughters, it will cause problems. Although the plot is rather silly in places, it doesn't matter at all because of the beautiful music. I thought Wolfgang Brendal was very good as the wealthy landowner Mandryka. In fact, it's difficult to fault any of the performances by any of the actors.

I think most opera enthusiasts, especially fans of Richard Strauss, will love this production, which also involves a performance by the young Natalie Dessay as Milli, the cabmen's mascot. Anyway, I liked it and shall enjoy watching it many times as I hope many others will aswell.
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on 12 March 2011
This is sung with great beauty by the entire cast - there is not a weak link anywhere. Strauss's music is gorgeous, and the whole production is wonderful - playing, singing, and visually. It doesn't obliterate in my memory the Peter Rice designed production at Covent Garden back in the 60s, when Fischer-Dieskau was an incomperable Mandryka - but what could? Five stars - enjoy it.
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on 29 April 2001
With an all star cast this is a justly famous version, dating from 1994 at the Met, NY. Dame Kiri's voice is glorious and full of feeling, belying critics who suggest she emphasises beauty of tone above expression. It's a role that excellently suits her noli-me-tangere stage persona. She is well matched in voice, presence and acting by the bluff Mandryka of Wolfgang Brendel. The Zdenko/Zdenka & Matteo plot is always difficult to carry off: how far do you press the homosexual subtext? In this production not at all, but Marie McLaughlin is excellent in the tricky role of Zdenka/Zdenko; David Kuebler matches her (although his eye-popping is too stagey for the closeups he's granted). Adelaide and Graf Waldner are sung by no less than Helga Dernesch and Donald McIntyre, and the brief but always striking part of the Fiakermilli is brilliantly done by Natalie Dessay. Christian Thielemann and the Met Orchestra produce attractive and clearly articulated sounds without producing breath-taking beauty. The reason this only gets 3 stars when it really is a very good production is its comparatively poor production as a DVD - despite its high price even by DVD standards. It's more or less a straight transfer from the video version. It has, it's true, the important additon of choice of subtitles in several languages (inclusing Chinese), but image quality is not what we expect from DVD these days and there are no extras such as we have come to consider essential in DVDs of feature films - no interviews, no background documentary (however small), no clips from rehearsals, no extracts from earlier productions. Even the booklet is basically a castlist with synopses in English, German and French and a couple of photos from the production - absurd duplication since we can see the images again and again on our screens and use the subtitle option. Why not some interesting essays to add to the value? Opera still has a LONG way to go on DVD and this is by no means a cutting edge.
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on 11 August 2016
this fast becoming my second favourite Strauss opera, which I have already seen twice. It combines the talents of four of my favourite singers.
Wolfgang Brendel was new to me, but was well-suited to match the company of my favourites. I have two DVD players. The first had one moment of freezing; the second had no fewer than 3 such pauses.
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on 12 October 2014
First point it is over 4 hours long.
Not Strauss's best opera but lots of wonderful music and Kiri Te Kawana is out standing.
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