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5.0 out of 5 stars
Fidelio: Wiener Staatsoper (Bernstein) [DVD] [2006]
Format: DVD|Change
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on 21 January 2017
I was delighted with this version of the Beethoven opera. Gundula Janowitz' superb soprano voice delighted throughout and Rene Kollo was well up to the role of Florestan. The supporting cast also performed well and I appreciated the celebrated soprano Lucia Popp as Marzelline. Unsurprisingly, the Vienna State Orchestra and Chorus under the excellent direction of Leonard Bernstein gave the emotionally charged music a fine interpretation. Also I was pleased with the period costumes and authentic-looking sets. Other good versions of the opera are available but this is a treasure.
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on 31 December 2014
This was without a doubt this was my greatest experience in opera this year. Although it dates from 1978 I was overwhelmed by this production.The voices were superb(I was especially impressed by Manfed Jungwfirth's Father Rocco) and the prelude to act three under Bernstein was riveting.
I will play this again and again Buy it!!
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on 28 June 2015
Amazing production and performance. Bernstein at his best with a terrific unsurpassable cast. A very moving performance of a great work.
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on 4 February 2018
Gr8 product. Punctual delivery.
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on 28 November 2015
Superb performances. A historic production worth a place in anyone's collection.
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on 17 April 2012
I chose this paticular recordings from your excellent and helpful reviewers and the known quality of the artists,and I wasn't disappointed.very well performed with everybody on top form from the sound and light engineers to the wonderful artists themselves..FULL MARKS.cliffy
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on 10 February 2016
A first class performance of this opera.
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on 18 June 2007
There was certainly "something in the air" in the Vienna State Opera House on the night in 1978 when this recording was made and whilst we are given no clue as to what this might have been, the enthusiasm of the audience as evidenced by frequent and prolonged applause certainly rubbed off onto this viewer. Whilst certain aspects of the disc reveal that the performance is nearly 30 years old - for example despite the sheer size of the orchestra which is crammed into the orchestra pit the sound can at times seem on the thin side and many of the costumes appear to be drawn exclusively from the brown and beige part of the colour spectrum (although to be fair this may be as they actually were on the night as these colours were of course unfortunately very much in vogue at the time), the picture is generally very sharp and very commendably for a recording of this age we are given the sound in a variety of formats. The synopses of the plot in the leaflet is excellent as are all the performances. All in all this disc is highly recommended for those seeking a very satisfying rendition of what is for a lot of people a rather uneven - but still worthwhile work. If anybody wants to see a good example of what is meant by the phrase "singing your heart out" they only have to look at the faces of the chorus in the closing scene.
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on 5 March 2013
I think I possess most of the main recordings of "Fidelio." all of them good, especially Klemperer but nothing quite compares with this extraordinary, incandescent performance. I nearly got thrown out of my house for playing it full blast at six in the morning and quite right too ! But I felt that I was doing them a favour sharing with them this incredible performance of this wonderful, unique amazing music ! Perhaps Beethoven's most "blazing" score. We often hear that, even though it flopped, it was Beethoven's own favourite of all his works, his "love child." It is certainly an amazing work.

And Lenny's live performance, recorded early in his love-affair with the Vienna Philharmonic (and them with him) is one of the best things he ever did. What few people have mentioned is that he goes for almost an "original instrument" type sound, not at all a "luscious" big orchestra type sound and this pays dividends in almost every bar since the woodwind are never swamped. Some people have said that it is just a very bad, dry and constricted recording. I don't find that at all. I think Lenny, maybe for the only time in his life, is experimenting with the true "Beethoven" sound, right from the first note of the overture. And it works.

As for the soloists, Gundula Janowitz just cracks me up ! René Kollo may not be Jon Vickers (who sings the part for both Klemperer and Karajan but who is? And Vickers' voice is not to everyone's taste.) but he is fine, even if not scaling the heights. But, despite the spine-tingling noise that Janowitz makes, this is Lenny's show: one of his most inspired and extraordinary performances - and it isn't even Gustav Mahler ! You won't find a better one.
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VINE VOICEon 19 March 2012
This is a gem of a production of Beethoven's masterpiece by the Vienna State Opera. Fidelio is all about the triumph of devoted womanhood over adversity of the worst kind and it honours women in a way that no other opera does. To suggest that Beethoven was no good at composing opera is utter nonsense and to say that this opera is flawed means nothing at all because Beethoven flawed is still streets ahead of the field as this brilliant production so ably emphasises. Beethoven's irascibility, partly caused by his approaching deafness, could easily have been a main reason in preventing him from composing any more operas. As for suggesting that there is anything boring about this opera, it needs to be understood that we can become bored either because we are experiencing trash or because what we are experiencing is beyond out appreciation.

We are privileged to live in a world that has Beethoven's music. Those living before circa 200 years ago would not have had that privilege. There are other truly great composers - Mozart, for instance - but Beethoven has that something that no other composer has had before or since. He shows us what it is to be truly us, to be truly alive and triumph in the face of adversity no matter how severe. What opera lover doesn't love Verdi's operas? But most of those end in tragedy. Not so Fidelio, which ends in triumph, the triumph of dedicated womanhood overcoming every adversity. Yet again Beethoven is telling us: life may be hell for you, but don't despair. Hold fast and you will ascend from the dungeon of desperation into the light of understanding. Beethoven composed just the one opera, but a greater opera has never been written.

I have no problems playing this disc and find the sound quality firstrate. It's a privilege to have a recording of these great singers. Finally, it's worth recalling a story about Beethoven when he is said to have had a dispute with the Archduke Ferdinand. Storming out into the rain, he strode off shouting: 'Archdukes there will always be, but they'll only ever be one Beethoven.' When we listen to his music, including Fidelio, we have no choice but to agree with him.
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