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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars

on 29 September 2012
I do believe Berg himself would be proud of this production, even I'd scenery and costumes aren't exactly as directed in the libretto, this I'm sure would be forgiven. Schäfer is an absorbing, and suitably cold, Lulu. Berg's almost cinematic (note I am not saying melodic) and certainly highly theatrical score is played to perfection. The conductor really does get this piece. Infused between extremes of raging noise to sardonic music hall passages, it is not always easy but always effective.

Clever revolving and versatile stage adds to the drama.

Highly recommended
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on 6 June 2005
I agree entirely with the previous reviewer: this peformance is a stunner. Schaefer beautifully captures the outward changes in Lulu as the drama progresses, from sex kitten to dominatrix and thence to whore, demonstrating a talent as actress that is quite a revelation to those who know her more as an outstanding lieder singer!! The stage management is also inspired: the concentric circles of the staging reflecting the circular pattern of Lulu's own rise and fall; the ingenious staircase, creating a third dimension when it is needed; the creation of a party atmosphere in the twinkling of an eye; the horror of the stews in which Lulu meets her fate at the hands of Jack the Ripper. I could go on at length, but I want to single out the performance of the veteran Norman Bailey, still going strong after a long and distinguished career and making a suitably seedy Schigolch, a symbol of Lulu's shady past and wretched demise at the end of the opera. In short, a brilliant DVD that makes Berg's admittedly difficult music much more approachable.
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on 22 December 2004
It might be said that the 20th Century brought along opera's entry into the adult age. Little by little, operas started treating "delicate" subjects in a more serious way, one the largely victorian 19th century never dreamt of. Perhaps the trend was started by Richard Strauss, first with Salome and later on with Elektra. And others followed gladly suit, Schönberg with his Moses & Aron, depicting on stage a savage orgy that even today, almost three quarters of a century later, stage directors have a hard time devising tastefully (and perhaps tactfully). Berg was no exception: the 20's saw his Wozzeck and its tormented characters, the 30's this, his unfinished crown jewel with its decadent world of wealth, lust and manipulation that is given here, as is now customary, in the Cerha completion of the last act that Berg's untimely death prevented the composer from finishing.
At last, this production allows for a credible stage Lulu; the Graham Vick production, filmed here almost ten years ago at Glyndebourne's then new theatre does away with the usual overaged singer attempting a rôle that is inextricably linked like few others to the visual image of its portrayer and has for us the excellent Christine Schäfer, not just looking the part (her young, attractive looks undoubtedly helped) but also despatching its fiendishly difficulty with ease and applomb.
The other parts are also effectively cast, rendering this a winning all-round team effort. Katryn Harries is a superior Geschwitz, David Kuebler an intriguing Alwa. The veteran Norman Bailey appears as Schigolch.
The London Philharmonic, not an ensemble one usually associates with 20th century music, play stupendously and are very well conducted by an Andrew Davis that shows an absolute understanding of the score. Vicks's staging encompasses all three acts with minimum changes (more to do with objects on stage rather than actual scenery modifications) and I've read some critics in UK periodicals whose authors at the time (summer of 1996) did not seem to like it much. Granted, there's no actual displaying of the painter's atélier in Act 1 or Paris saloon, London street, etc. in other parts of the work, but to me it flows well; the work is so well directed you don't actually need scenery changes.
This video (in its VHS incarnation, back in 1997) deservedly won the prestigious Award for Best Video granted by the well-known Gramophone magazine in the UK, and may we say very much so especially in this new, DVD edition.
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on 15 December 2007
Lulu is a very complex work. This DVD makes justice to all of the complexness of the work: musical and dramatic. First of all: Christine Schäfer. Since Teresa Stratas she is the most impressive singer to play this difficult role. As she is a genuine coloratura , Schäfer can handle with all these crazy cadenzas with naturality. And her personification of Lulu is as ambigous as Wedekind( the play ' s writer) has though. But it isn' t only Schäfer that is fantastic in this DVD. Wolfgang Schöne is a convincent Schon and Jack the riper.Stephan Drakulich as The Painter and the Neger is very sexy and exciting . The old wagnerian bass-baritone Norman Bailey is a moving and repulsive Schigolch (and yet in a very good voice).Alwa, one of the most demanding tenor roles in all lyric repertoire, is very well sung by David Kuebler, and his naive looking is very moving during all the performance.Kathryn Harries as Geschwitz is fantastic too. Her final singing is a golden key for this performance. Far from one analytical aproach, Andrew Davies made a romantic and effective reading of the score. The London Philharmonic is in a special day, sounding realy as a great orchestra. The violin and piano solos, at the first scene of act three are very well played.
The staging, transposed for a modern time ( Lulu is atemporal) is fantastic by the simplicitiy of the sets and the coherence (the steps marking Lulu's ascension and fall !!!). Sexuality flows over all the singers.But always with naturality.And I would like to remark also that this mise en scene has a fine movie during the intermezzo of the second act, folowing all the instructions of Berg.
For this ( low) price you will have one of the best readings of the score , only comparable with that of Boulez (1978), and one very special staging of one of the most important opera of the history, maybe .....the last great opera.
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on 2 June 2011
It's interesting how snotty a lot of Berg and 2nd-Viennese pupils and other hangers-on got when it looked as if this opera was going to be taken out of their hands and simply released onto any opera stage as the great, funny, complex, sinister piece it is, after the 3rd act completion and marvellous Boulez/Chereau production. My revelation was a production in the 80s or early 90s by ENO. I thought: How can they do this? They haven't the intellectual apparatus, the money, the vast orchestral resources...? But it turns out any company can do it as long as they're razor-sharp and on their toes and got a good enough band. They can play it like Cosi Fan Tutte. I love this production, it's sharp, funny, disconcerting, Christine Schafer is marvellous, all of them them effortless (imagine saying that in the 70s!). No one is pretending it's the greatest opera of the 20th C, some recreated lost world-shaking masterpiece - it isn't, it's just up there as one of the best, along with all the others. Oh and Stravinsky loved it, described the sound of the saxophone floating out over its vast decadence (he knew the value of a press-release). I sometimes think if Kurt Weill had gone another way he might have written this.
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on 9 April 2015
Lulu is a very dramatic opera with very expressive music. Thus it requires singers with acting skills. This 1996 Glyndenbourne performance is fully satisfactory musically and theatrically. All characters are very dell bit Christine Schäfer's Lulu is really outstanding.
This video has very sharp 4:3 picture and stereo sound, which is very satisfactory.
Overall, it is excellent!
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on 11 October 2015
Although this is a twenty year old production it remains fresh and new due to both the superb cast and the wonderful conducting of Sir Andrew Davis. This production is to be highly recommended and I would pick out the singing of both Christine Schafer and Kathryn Harries. This is not an opera for the faint hearted both tonally and for the subject matter. Alban Berg is easily misunderstood until you have gone through the works of Wagner and Schonberg first. Then you can fully appreciate the beauty of the score and acknowledge it as a twentieth century masterpiece.
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on 8 November 2011
I perhaps bought this for the wrong reason, I had Heard Christine Schafer in Rigoletto, and was impressed by her voice and acting. I associated Berg with being difficult music, but went ahead. First time around I was bewildered but stuck with it. Second time I began to see what he was getting at.
The set which suffices throughout, with some changes of props, is a room with an impressive brick wall and interesting steps.
The singing is in a conversational style, with occasional dialogue, the dramatics are very demanding, requiring acting ability, this is displayed by the excellent cast without exception. The voices are pushed to their limits, and not always easy on the ear, but this is intention.
I found that after settling in I was intrigued by the drama, and the music became very much as good film music, there, and enhancing the drama without intruding. If one closed ones eyes briefly, the music did not work for me. This is most definately audio/visual work.
I became quite absorbed, oh and by the way I would have been lost without subtitles.
The cover insert has a very brief synopsis, and the separate pieces are numbered and itemised. I would have liked a booklet with a more comprehensive plot and character description. Perhaps also a few notes on Berg and his music.
All in all I am pleased that I bought it.

Why four stars? Because of the reasons given in the last paragraph. If you want memorable arias and sweeping melodics this is not for you. Open your mind and this is a superbly dramatic work.
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on 8 December 2013
This is a very fine performance from both orchestra and singers. Learning the part of Lulu must verge on the impossible. The ending atrikes me as a little unconvincing, but I have enormous admiration for any performers who can master this very difficult score. Only one snag - I don't like Berg, and this left me musically unmoved. My loss, I'm sure.
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on 13 November 2015
Good singing by all however the design is very bland brown and beige
This is the three act version
Many prefer the two act edition
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