Magazine article Opera Canada

Capriccio: Richard Strauss

Magazine article Opera Canada

Capriccio: Richard Strauss

Article excerpt

CAPRICCIO

Richard Strauss

Fleming, Trost, Finley, Hawlata, von Otter. Chorus and orchestra of the Opera National de Paris, Ulf Schirmer, conductor. Robert Carsen, stage director; Francois Roussillon, video director

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Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish

TCK: DVWW-OPCAPR (2 DVDs/148 minutes)

LA TRAVIATA

Verdi

Ciofi, Sacca, Hvorostovsky. Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro La Fenice, Lorin Maazel, conductor. Robert Carsen, stage director; Patrizia Carmine, video director

Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish

TDK: DVWW-OPLTLF (1 DVD/146 minutes)

These two outstanding DVDs clearly demonstrate why Canadian Robert Carsen is one of the most sought-after opera directors in the world today. As he has stated in interviews, "I tend to favor interpretations that oblige the audience to involve themselves, so that they have to make the meaning their own." It is this willingness to involve and to empower his audience that perhaps sets him apart from other directors, who often abandon their audience in a sea of esoterica and interpretive rhetoric. Rarely does one leave a Carson production either unmoved or unstimulated. "Opera itself is a mixture of head and heart," Carsen has said. "You have the words, which are maybe more intellectually based--they have a more concrete quality--and you have the music that is more emotional. The two together create a tension that allows opera, when it works, to be unbelievably satisfying because you're challenged mentally while, at the same time, being fulfilled emotionally."

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When Carsen's production of Strauss's Capriccio--with staggeringly beautiful set designs by Canadian Michael Levine--was unveiled at the Palais Garnier in Paris last year, it seemed to provide one revelation after another. But, unfortunately, what worked so powerfully in the theatre has not translated quite as strongly to the small screen. To compensate, Carsen has shot extra footage, which allows us, in the opera's final scene, to see soprano Renee Fleming both as the real Countess, sitting in a box watching the opera, and the imaginary Countess, performing on stage in the opera. …

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