STRAUSS: Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier. "Allein Weh, ganz alin" from Elektra. Love Scene from Feuersnot. Final Scene from Salome. "Mein Elemer!" from Arabella. Interlude from Intermezzo. "Zweite Brachtnacht" from The Egyptian Helen. "Ich komme grünende Brüder" from Daphne.
Christine Goerke, Anja Harteros, Camilla Nylund, sopranos; Dresden Staatskapelle/Christian Thielemann, cond.
C MAJOR DVD (two disks) TT: 146 min. incl. 44 min bonus

ROSSINI: Guillaume Tell
Nicola Alaimo (Guillaume). Juan Diego Flórez (Arnold Meleth). Simon Orfila (Walter Furs). Sione Alberghiini (Melcthal). Amand Forsythe (Jenny). Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Comunale Bologna/Michele Mancini, cond.
DECCA DVD TT: 247 min. + 17 min. bonus

MICHEL LEGRAND - JACQUES DEMY: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Symphonic Version premiere at Théátre dy/Chátre
Marie Oppert (Genevíève). Vincent Nicolo (Guy Foucher). Natalie Dessay (Madame Emery). Laurent Naouri ( (Roland Cassard). Louise Leterme (Madeleine). Orcherstre National d'ila-de-FranceMichele LeGrand, cond.
ERATO DVD TT: 105 min.

Christian Thielemann has made many superb Strauss recordings, particularly the recent DVD Dresden concert featuring the Five Last Songs (with Anja Harteros) and An Alpne e Symphony (REVIEW). Now we have another memorable all-Strauss concert from Dresden, this one a gala concert from June 15, 2014, a center for the composer's music for more than a century. Orchestral excerpts from operas were interspersed with scenes from five operas. American soprano Christine Goerke seems to be a favorite for dramatic soprano roles, but she is not at her best here. She is slightly off-pitch in the Elektra scene, a problem not so noticeable in the Salome finale. She surely has the volume, but her voice is steely and uneven, hardly suggesting the young heroine. Vocally things improve dramatically for the remainder of the program. Anja Harteros' singing of the Arabella aria is glorious in every way—what a finesoprano she is. Camilla Nylund impresses in the big second-act aria from The Egyptian Helen, and scales her voice down appropriately for the delicate, exquisite closing scene from Daphne—true Straussian magic. The second disk contains interviews with Thielemann about his love for Strauss, and we also have some brief scenes of a film of Strauss conducting bits from Till Eulenspiegel (also used in the recent documentary about the composer (REVIEW).Video and audio on this new Strauss gala are excellent, although not quite as effective as the other Strauss DVD mentioned.

Rossini's four-act opera William Tell was his last. Premiered at the Paris Opera in 1829. It is based on Schiller's play about the legendary character. Tell is a very long opera that includes some of the composer's finest writing, and all singers have ample opportunity to display their vocal wares.In this performance, doubtless what will be of particular interest to most will be Juan Dego Floréz as Arnold—his big scene in the final act is quite extraordinary and he delivers what his fans expect. The scene where Tell (magnificently sung Nicolo Alaimo) shoots the apple off the top of his son's head is handled impressively—good theater, which cannot be said for the rest of this updated production. Directed by Graham Vick with sets and costumes by Paul Brown and choreography by Rohn Howell, the set is confused, replete with many wooden horses, which sometimes are on their sides. Usually there is a lot going on, but it seems there is no direction, as if the director had told performances t o just look stupid. Excellent video and sound. It is unfortunate this excellent presentation wasn't better directed and designed.

This DVD of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a knock-out. The 1964 French film was a box-office hit. This tragic story of the love of 170 year old G Geneviève for the 20-year auto mechanic Guy, actually is a "pop" opera, and a very effective one. Michel Le Grand's music (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, I Will Wait For You) is memorable (he conducts the performance), and this elaborate French production, recorded in September 3014, is wonderful. There is a single set on which is seated the large orchestra with space in front for stage action, all cleverly done. And the cast could not be bettered, with Natalie Dessay as the mother. English subtitles are there, and throughout there is an atmosphere of celebration. Don't miss this DVD!

R.E.B. (June 2015)