PUCCINI La fanciula del west
Jonas Kaufmann (Dick Johnson/Ramerez). Nina Stemme (Minnie). Tomasz Konueczny (Jack Rance). Norbert Ernst (Nick). Pauo Rometz (Ashby). Boaz Daniel (Sonora). Michae Roider (Tim). Hans Peter Kammerer (Sid) Tae=Joong Yang *Bello). Peter Jelostis (Harry). Vuienna State Opera Chorus andOrtchestra / Franz Welser-Mösst, cond.
SONY DVD 88875064069 TT: 138 min.

BEETHOVEN: Mass in C, Op. 86. STRAVINSKY: Symphony in Three Movements. HUMMEL: Trumpet Concerto in E.
Martin Angerer, trumpet. Genia Kühmeier, soprano. Gerhild Romberger, mezzo-sooprano. MaMaximillian Schmitt, tenor. Luca Pisaroni, bass-baritone. Bavaian Radio Chorus. Bavarian Radio Orchestra / Mariss Jansons, cond.
BR KLASSI 08041 TT: 91 min.

BRITTEN: Death in Venice
John Daszak, Leigh Melrose. Tomasz Borczyk. Anthoiny Roth Costanzo. Duncan Rock. Teatro Real Chorus and Orhestra Alejo Perez, cond.
NAXOS NBD 0076V TT: 152 min.

. This performance of La fancilla del West was filmed at the Vienna State Opera September 30, October 2 - 5, 2013. This is a Royta Swedish Opera production directed by Marco Arturo Marelli who also designed sets and lighting. Costumes were by Dagmar Niefind. It is stark and drab visually.In this production Minnie doesn't arrive in Act III on a horse, and in Act II, Dick Johnson is always in plain view. Minnie's costume is a problem. Nina Stemme is not a small woman, and as costumed here, hardly a woman who woud attract attention from any man, even desperate cowboys. She has bright red hair and appears tightly packed into her costume, looking older than most of the cowboys. She had the same problem in the Swedish Royal Opera production of 2012, mentiioned on this site (REVIEW). Jonas Kaufmann is perfect as Dick Johnson, and Tomasz Konieczny appropriately evil as Jack Rance. Even though this is a mid-price release, it might be better to wait for last season's Met production with Kaufmann and Eva Maria Westbrook, which doubtless eventually will be issued. A number of videos of Puccini's western opera have been reviewed on this site. Particularly noteworthy are the two with Plácido Domingo.

To celebrate Mariss Janson's 75th birthday a special concert was presented in January 2018 recorded live in Munich's Gastieg Philharmonie. It seems a rather odd program opening with Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements followed by a trumpet concerto by Hummel, and ending with Beethoven's Mass in C. DVD program notes attempt to justify this by stating the three works are "linked together by escalating intensity" whatever that means. We do have an energetic performance of Stravinsky;s 1934 Symphony, after which there is a dazzling performance of the Hummel trumpet concerto. DVD notes say nothing a about the soloist, Martin Angerer, but he is a leading virtuoso and has appeared often in concerts and festival performances. Since 2017, he has ben Principal Trumpet with the Bavarian Orchestra. Beethoven's Mass brings the concert to a mighty close, with four first-cass soloists, and a perfect chorus. Impressive music-making throughout, with splendid video and audio. Jansons has been associated with these Bavarian forces for 18 years; let us hope he will continue for many more

Death in Venice was Britten's last opera, obviously of great importance to him personally. Obsessed with completing the opera, he worked feverishly on it although very ill; The premiere took place June 16, 1973.The opera is based on a novella by German author Thomas Mann. The principal character is Gustav von Aschenbach, an aging disillusioned author who travels to Venice for a rest and assessment of his life. While there he sees the young boy Tadzio and is infatuated with him, following him around Venice. The opera ends with the death of Aschenbach, a tragic rather confused man. Britten's opera is really a play with incidental music appropriately dark and despairing. Surely this performance filmed December 17 / 19, 2014 at Teatro Real in Madrid, presents the work effectively. Video and audio are excellent. . This is the dark side of Britten and opera, theater rather than opera. There are many other videos of Death in Venice should it interest you, In 1971 the novella was made into a highly respected and successful film with Dirk Bogard directed by Luciano Visconti.

R.E.B. (December 2018).