Leos Janacek: From the House of the Dead

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Leos Janacek From the House of the Dead

Olaf Bar, Eric Stoklossa, Stefan Margita, Peter Straka, Vladimir Chmelo, Jiri Sulzenko, Heinz Zednik, John Mark Ainsley, Jan Galla, Gerd Grochowski and others--singers; Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Pierre Boulez. Director: Patrice Chereau, Film Director Stephane Metge. Text: Eng., Ger., Fr. Recorded: live, July 2007, Grand Theatre, Aix-en-Provence. Released: 2008. TT: 148:00. Picture format: NZSC Colour 16:9. Sound format: PCM Stereo--DTS 5.1. I DVD Deutsche Grammophon 00440 073 4426.

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The audiovisual recording of the production of the opera From the House of the Dead, staged in 2007 at the festival in Aixen-Provence and net long before in Vienna, preserves the memory of a project that was a major event and will certainly find a place in the history of opera performance. It was an exceptional meeting between three masters the director Patrice Chereau, the conductor Pierre Boulez--and the composer. The stirring last opera by the seventy-two-year-old Janacek, with his own libretto based en Dosteyevsky's book, was here turned into unprecedentedly complex, authentic and moving theatre. This was because the director Chereau found a precise, skilful and congenial interpretation that was both sufficiently realistic and sufficiently stylised in its evocation of the harshness and horror of life in a prison camp under the Tsarist tyranny and the feelings of political exiles in Siberia--an interpretation that with its almost perfect understanding of the original rather bizarre and austere work overcame all the pitfalls, above all the more or less complete absence of plot. The production is a marriage of the lyrical and the rough, individual avant-garde features and expressionism with brevity and loftiness. …