WUOIRNEN: Brokeback Mountain
Daniel Okulitch (Ennis). Tom Randle (Jack Twist). Heather Buck (Alma). Hannah Esther Minutillo (Lauren). Ethan Herschenfeld (Aguirre/Hog-Boy). Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Real Madrid/Titus Engel, cond.

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op.67. Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125.
Anna Tomawa-Sintow, soprano; Agnes Baltsa, contralto; René Kollo, tenor; José van Dam, bass; Berlin German Opera Chorus; Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Herbert von Karajan, cond.
EUROARTS DVD TT: 98 min. +21 min. bonus

Music of Offenbach, Charpentier, Giordano, Massenet, Cilea, Puccini, Falla, Moreno, Luna, Bernstein, :Loewe, Johann Strauss, Kalman, Gershwin and "Deanna Durbin medley."
Dinara Alieva, soprano; Russian National Orch/Constantin Orbelian, cond.

In 2005

the film Brokeback Mountain was a box-office hit. It is adapted from the 1997 story of the same name by Annie Proulx who wrote the libretto for the opera as well as the movie. . The story is about the ill-fated love of two ranchers in the American West 1 1963-1983.The film starred Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar and Jake Gyllenhaal as Jack Twist, and won numerous awards. This is a gay tragedy. After their summertime relationship while both men were isolated on Brokeback Mountain, the men two part, and Ennis marries his long-time fiancée, Alma Beers, and, and they have two daughters. Jake marries Lureen Newsome and they have a son. The two men cannot hide their love for each other and continue to meet. Both marriages disintegrate After some years, Jake is murdered by a mob hostile to homosexuality. This is a tragic story of forbidden love, frustration and sadness. Charles Wuorinen began work on his opera in 2008 on a commission from the New York City Opera. Annie Proulx wrote the libretto, and the opera was premiered January 29, 2014 at Teatro Real of Madrid, the performance seen on this DVD. An admirable cast does what can be done for this opera, but it is not a memorableg score. Wuorinen's wring is 12-tone, imaginatively scored, but surely not melodic—you probably will not remember much of it, although it is effective in its abstract way. Much of the early part of the opera is presented sprechgesang (spoken singing).Only in act two is heard a hint of a melody. Staging and sets by Ivo Van Hove and Jan Verseyveld are stark but effective, a large background panel with two sides, on which are projected various scenes and information about the passage of time.The depiction of Brokeback Mountain is quite is outstanding. The cast is strong throughout, particularly Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch, who has had a successful career in Mozart as well as contemporary opera. This DVD displays the handsome singer impressively, and should enhance his career. Video and audio are excellent. It is interesting to note the polite audience response at the end. I would be surprised if this operatic treatment of Brokeback Mountain is accepoted as anything but a novelty.

It is difficult to understand why this DVD of Hebert von Karajn and the Berlin Philharmonie performing two Beethoven symphonies was issued. The advanced technology can do little for most of the program. Sym[Symphony No. 5 was recorded in January 1968 in a cramped studio filmed in black and white. Karajan chose the video director, Henri-George Clouzet who knew just what the German conductor wanted—he is on screen most of the time, sometimes up close. Picture quality is coarse and grainy. . Symphony No. 9 is a live performance December 31 1977 in Berlin's Philharmonie. Video director is Humphrey Burton who also focuses on Karajan.Video and stereo audio are firs-rae. Of course both performances are superb, The"bonus" is a 21-minute interview of Karajan by Joachim Kaiser with some rehearsal excerpts. There are other videos of Karajan and his Berlin Orchestra performing Beethoven symphonies, and all cost considerably less than this new issue.. An ibservation: Karajan reportedly was involved in development of CD technology—he wanted a disk that could accommodate Beethoven's Ninth on one side. I wonder how he would have felt about DVD technology that on one disk contains not only Symphony No. 9, but Symphony No. 5 and an interview.

Dinara Alieva is a young Azerbaian soprano who has done much ssince becoming a member of the Bolshoi Theatre in 2010. Since then she has sung Violetta, Tatiana, Donna Elvira and Mi and other roles at the Vienna State Opera and German opera houses. She is showcased in this concert program taped in the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory April 21, 2014. Mikhail Pletnev's fine orchestra, the Russian National Philharmonic, was engaged, with Constantin Orbelian on the podium. The audience appears to be mostly young, and receives Alieva enthusiastically. The program is wide-ranging including arias from Louise, , Fedora, Manon, Adriana Lecouvreur, Manon Lescaut, and Spanish music by Falla,Moreno and Luna. Operetta also is featured with excerpts from Giuditta and The Gypsy Princess. Lighter fare includes Summertime, Over the Rainbow and I Could Have Danced All Night. The program ends with an oddit,: the Russian choral scene from His Butler's Daughter, a 1943 film starring Deana Durbin. . Aliev's voice is powerful and secure, perfect in pitch. She does have a Slavic sound and displays dramatic involvement. She is assured on stage, attractive and obviously has a sense of humo, No question whatever, Dinara Alieva is a soprano to watch. Orbelian and the excellent orchestra play a few orchestral works to permit her to change costume and rest a bit. Complete texts are provided, ad video/audio are first-rate. This is an intriguing look at a rising star in the operatic world.

R.E.B. (APRIL 2015)