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Busoni: Doktor Faust

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Thomas Hampson, Gregory Kunde, Sandra Trattnigg, Reinaldo Macias, and Guenther Groisseboeck star in this 2006 Zurich Opera production of the Busoni opera conducted by Philippe Jordan and directed by Klaus Michael Grueber. Extras include talk with Hamson i

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ferruccio Busoni, Thomas Hampson, Zurich Opera House, Eduardo Arroyo
  • Directors: Klaus Michael Bruber
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Classical, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 5.1), German (DTS 5.1), German (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: Italian, German, English, French, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Arthaus
  • DVD Release Date: February 12, 2008
  • Run Time: 172 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,661 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Marcelino Plaza on January 13, 2008
Along the years, there's been some argument in the musical press whether Busoni was a great composer or if he rather was, as Richard Strauss's own pun on himself, a first class second rate one. Well, this work, one of the most intriguing operas written during the 20th Century, is indeed a very serious argument towards establishing Busoni among the great composers. It has been slow in gaining recognition since its premiere in 1925, with all too infrequent performances, a kind of cult item that saw the stage, alongside Pfitzner's Palestrina and Hindemith's Mathis der Maler, only in solemn, festive occasions and mostly in the German-speaking orbit, the three works characterised as they are by an aura of deep philosophic content, in their different approaches dealing with the struggle of the creative artist in an hostile environment; of the three, Doktor Faust is by a notch becoming the better known, with gradually less infrequent performances during the last 15 years or so. London's first staging took place only in the 1980's and New York's the following decade, in a pioneering event at NYCO that the Met only followed in the 2000's.

The Zurich performance shown in this DVD is an all-round successful, certainly not a great, one, though resting heavily on two pillars, the first being Hampson's tour-de-force portrayal of the title role and the other Jordan's work in the pit. The performing version used is the standard Jarnach (whose otherwise exemplary job in the missing bits has as much of Busoni as Alfano's for Turandot has of Puccini, that is, nothing) completion, yet in the supplementary material conductor Jordan explains in an interview why he opted to leave aside Beaumont's alternative in spite of its use of "new" original Busoni material that emerged in the 1980's.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By G P Padillo VINE VOICE on February 20, 2008
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What an exhausting, numbing, emotional experience watching this DVD was. The production is not without problems, but Hampson's performance more than compensates for anything that might hinder one's enjoyment and appreciation for this reading. This may be the finest work I've seen from him - and knowing his propensity for analyzing works and reading between the lines, Busoni's enigmatic, difficult task put out before him is precisely the type of challenge Hampson seems to revel in. He is intense, his world weary, exhausted of life beginning morphing into this superhuman persona that burns himself out trying to achieve Mephistophele's challenge "to make eternal the fulfillment of every wish and every suffering." It's exhausting just to think about!

Busoni's uncompleted opera shows everywhere a brilliant mind grappling with larger "Faustian" ideas - and a seeming frustration as how best to represent them in a piece conceived for a stage drama. The resulting work is, of course, episodic in nature without the clear linear direction and storyline we are accustomed to in "standard" opera.

Klaus Michael Grüber's production for Zurich seems intent to maximize that episodic nature and the attempt to flow the acts together with a cinematic liquidity makes the "choppiness" (for lack of better word) of the work all the more noticeable. The enormous stage design seemed to me a blending of a hyper-realism mixed with the symbolic. To that end, watching this I was reminded (more than once) of the great silent movies, and the larger-than-life performances, odd costumings (for all but Faust and Mephistpheles) all enhance that feeling. At the same time, Grüber's staging has a church pageant feel to it, almost enhancing the static qualities of the opera Mr.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Lupu VINE VOICE on November 15, 2008
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Although the libretto of this opera is not based on Goethe's Faust, it has similar profound psychological tones. In short, Faust makes a pact with the Devil to give him powers to obtain whatever he wants, and still he feels empty. He tries love, stealing the Duchess on her wedding day; and fame as a professor, but still the same isolation persists. Only at the end he does something that fulfills him, he gives his life for the life of his son (the eternal perpetuation of life). I am a little bet disappointed that this life given scene is not stressed enough in this production. Otherwise the production is very well done. The music is difficult to perform and has as many styles as one can think, may be stressing the many facets of the mind, although it is always within a dark atmosphere. The staging is appropriately dark with the exception of the first scene, may be the only one in the real world. The rest of the scenes are all dark and out of reality, only portraying Faust's dark psychology. Interestingly, Faust is a baritone and Mephistopheles is a tenor, in contrast to the general perception of the devil having a lower voice. In this opera, the lower and darker character is Faust; Mephistopheles is a steady character with obvious intentions.
Thomas Hampson is just perfect, his singing and his acting is compelling. His music and the acting takes you directly into Faust state of mind.
I strongly recommend you read the booklet before watching the Opera. The interview with Hampson is also worth watching.
This DVD is recommended for those seeking more than just entertainment.
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