ORFF: Carmina Burana
PUCCINI: La Rondine
Runnicles' conducting is masterful. and sublime. If you are an opera lover conversant with mainly French and Italian repertoire, this is a perfect place to expand your horizons. This is a s good as opera on DVD gets! Video direction is wonderful...maybe this is better than it was in the opera house! ›
This recording of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana was recorded last year and is included on this page because the second disk is a DVD; there also is a CD. Orff's dynamic a scenic cantata, composed in 1935, is based on 24 poems from the medieval collection Carmina Burana. It is part of Trionfi, a musical triptych that also includes Catulli Carmina and Trionfo di Afrodite. It was a hit with audiences from the beginning, and in 1967 Eugen Jochum made his famous Berlin recording, followed by countless others by major conductors. This new performance is a vigorous statement of the music, but the baritone soloist disappoints, the orchestra isn't very large, likewise the chorus. Audio is satisfactory, but this video cannot compare with the best already available, in particular Seiji Ozawa's Berlin Philharmonic version (REVIEW). The CD is roperly tracked, the DVD is not. Video is outstanding, but video direction is absurd; the camera often is in the wrong pkace; in the final pages we see a coseup of the baritone even though he has nothing to do with procedings. A dubious bonus on the DVD is a discussion about the music with the conductor, in German. There are no subtitles. Skip this one.
Puccini's late opera La Rondine (The Swallow), composed in 1916, has been neglected and for good reason. An opera/operetta, it is a light-hearted love story with one great aria, Magda's Chi il bel sogno di Doretta heard right at the beginning and repeated in different forms later. The score is beautiful indeed, but of little dramatic interest. Don't expect the high emotion of La Boheme, Butterfly, Tosca or Turandot. La Rondine actually is a rather boring evening in the opera house, no matter how well performed. It is consistently beautiful but, except for that one aria, unmemorable. This DVD offers a brilliant performance from the Berlin Opera recorded March 14 / 18,2015. Stage director was Rolandio Villazón, and he keeps things moving at a brisk pace The two lovers, Magda and Ruggero are superbly sung by Dinara Aliva and Charles Castronovo, a handsome pair indeed. Sets are beautiful, conductor Rizzi Brignoli's tempi are perfect. Video is outstandung as is audio. If you're looking for some lighter fare Puccini, here it is in a superb production. Several years ago this sigte mentioned a video of this opera starring Teresa Stratas (REVIEW). This new one has the advantage of today's technology.
R.E.B. (June 2016)