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on 16 December 2011
The time is now long gone when "proper" music lovers would look down their noses at Tchaikovsky. This attitude was prevalent for a number of reasons among which were first, how could anyone so popular be any good. Secondly his homosexuality was totally unacceptable in those bad old homophobic times when I was told by my music teacher at school in the 1960s that I would "grow out" of my high regard for T's music.

Tchaikovsky has thankfully now become widely regarded as one of the greatest masters of the second half of the 19th century. Most people are aware of his wonderful achievements in his orchestral and ballet works and may even be aware of the greatness of his operas Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades. Sadly, his other operas remain little known - a situation for which the record companies should be thoroughly ashamed. The current DVD under review, that of Mazeppa with a superb cast ably directed by Gergiev, will hopefully go some way to widen the audience for the lesser-known operatic masterpieces, for, make no mistake, Mazeppa is indeed a masterpiece - don't take any notice of what people tell you Tchaikovsky himself thought about it as he was notoriously over-critical of his works in many cases and on occasion destroyed the score after a first performance

The cast here is first class throughout with Nikolai Putilin as Mazeppa in absolutely superb voice. There is no weak link in the cast in my view; in fact I couldn't have enjoyed the opera more I think - except perhaps in the opera house. Watching the action on DVD certainly adds a further dimension beyond what one can experience on CD. I have the Jarvi version (DG) which while fine does not I think surpass the sound of this DVD version.

So, in summary, an excellent version in every way which I enthusiastically recommend.
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on 17 January 2005
Mazeppa may not stand on the same level of The Queen of Spades or Eugene Onegin, but it is a more than passable and honest work. The composer was not paticularly interested in the subject - in fact, he was considering an opera on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at the time - so all he could produce was a competent work, although here and there Tchaikovsky's melodic gifts sparkle. There are some folk-inspired choruses and a lively dance number, both in Act I, but the most beautiful number occurs at the very end of the opera, when the heroine Maria sings a touching lullaby to her dead suitor Andrey.
I understand the sets and costumes reproduce the original production. They are simple but beautiful. The singers - although not first-class - sing and act with emotion.
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on 25 October 2013
This opera is outstanding and still underrated and this production does it full justice. The Kirov orchestra under Gergiev play magnificently. The costumes are traditional (but how could it work otherwise) and the sets are simple but very effective.
Musically, the cast is outstanding. Nikolai Putilin sings and acts the title role to perfection. Irina Loskutova matches him as Maria.The rest of the cast is equally strong, not least Larissa Diadkova as Lyubov.
It would be difficult to pick out highlights from a consistently powerful work, but the end of Act 2 (the execution of Kochubey and Iskra) is extremely moving.
Contrary to another reviewer, I found the camera work (under Brian Large's direction) to be excellent, focusing closely on the performers when appropriate to highlight the intense emotions involved. Filming a staged opera is not an easy task and the end result is often full of misjudgements which destroy the magic of the experience. In this case the result is close to perfect.
A must buy for any opera lover.
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on 18 September 2004
Mazeppa is really a masterpiece, a neglected masterpiece full of beautiful melodies and compelling dramatic as well as epic scenes. A Great Opera!! Plenty of exquisite lyric arias, powerful ensembles, ballet music, choruses and crowd scenes. This production is good and colorful and Gergiev makes use of all his power to convey a convincing performance. Although not vocally perfect, it has enough strength to give life to this impassioned music.
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on 18 January 2009
Well I haven't seen this DVD yet; having listened to the Met Q. Spades a few weeks ago, and watched my old Chicago VHS of Onegin last night (Freni) I was just browsing thru Tchaikovsky stuff. I must agree with Michael Bo that this IS a wonderful opera. I saw it a couple of years ago with WNO and loved it, and I have the recording with Leiferkus, which is excellent. Don't be put off by any comments that this is sub-standard Tchaik...'cos it's not! ENJOY!!

P.S. Seen it now...really great!
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on 15 February 2011
Highly recommended DVD. Good production, superb melodies and the orchestra is second to none. Singing is of very high quality with much subtlety.
The only down point in my opinion is the camera work.
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on 23 April 2004
Young farmer's daughter, Maria, has, somewhat improbably, fallen in lovewith 70-year old Mazeppa, tyrant ruler of Ukraine, who snatches her awayfrom under her father's nose, imprisons and executes him.
'Mazeppa' is NOT a neglected masterpiece by Tchaikovsky, it is NOT themisunderstood sibling of 'Eugen Onegin' og 'Spade of Dames', it is quitesimply a work that can only be recommended to die-hard Tchaikovsky fans.It has some wonderful music, a few of Mazeppa's arias have that seductiveTchaikovsky cantilena, but it is never made clear why the composer investshis villain-hero with such empathic and warm music, it is almost as ifTchaikovsky has ambitions to make of Mazeppa the tragic ruler that Verdimanaged so supremely with King Filippo in 'Don Carlos', but it never quiteworks out. Nikolai Putilin is a powerful, incredibly well-sung Mazeppa,and the singers surrounding him are all exceedingly good.
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