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Handel - Orlando


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Product Details

  • Actors: William Christie, Marijana Mijanovic, Martina Jankova, Katharina Peetz, Konstantin Wolff
  • Directors: Jens-Daniel Herzog
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Box set, Classical, Color, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1), Italian (DTS 5.1), Italian (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Arthaus
  • DVD Release Date: September 30, 2008
  • Run Time: 155 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001DELWZ4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,953 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Marijana Mijanovic, Martina Jankova, Kartharina Peetz, Christina Clark, and Konstantin Wolff star in this 2007 Zurich Opera production of the Handel opera conducted by William Christie, and directed by Jens-Daniel Herzog.

Review

For being among the most interesting - others might even say: "among the few great" - Handel operas, there are surprisingly few options for listening to Orlando. There is an inadequate, heavily cut 1963 live recording with Janet Baker, Christie's on Erato with Patricia Bardon, and Hogwood's on L'Oiseau-Lyre with James Bowman. There have been no options to watch it until now as Arthaus brings us the 2007 Zurich production of Jens-Daniel Herzog under the baton of William Christie. And what a production and performance it is!

The period instrument orchestra of the Zurich Opera House, "La Scintilla", races through the opera at a clip a good deal brisker than William Christie does on his recording with Les Arts Florissants. Lean but with ample sound, this is largely to the benefit of the music and the listener, because the tempos are bracing and the opera is done with in just over 2 ½ hours - without (m)any cuts.

The singing is very fine, too - although the acting is better, still. As on his Erato recording, Christie uses an alto, not a counter-tenor, for the lead role of Orlando. With Marijana Mijanović he picked one who can not only portray the part realistically, visually, she also sounds rather like a good countertenor: an ineffectual middle, but a wonderful bottom - Not that I'd usually describe a woman in those terms.

Martina Janková as Angelica is a tremendous actress and she owns the stage even with little gestures. Her voice is more something to get used to: pretty in principle, but with a questionable vibrato that reminds me of Erika Koeth. If this were an audio-only recording, it might strike a pair of picky ears as borderline annoying. As it is, it's simply part of her character.

The imposing presence of Konstantin Wolff's Zoroastro is achieved by a mix of stature, looks, acting, and a solid, though not overwhelming or dominating, voice. The clear and lovely Dorinda of Christina Clark, and the pleasantly inconspicuous Katharina Peetz as Medoro round out this fine cast - excellent actors all.

For all its considerable musical qualities, the star of this Orlando might be the production of director Jens-Daniel Herzog and the gorgeous sets and costumes of Mathis Neidhardt. The story is carefully updated to an early 20th century-, Great War-setting with slight touches of the American 1920s. It takes place in a sanatorium for anti-heroes and burn-out victims that Herzog describes in the incisive liner-notes as exuding an air of "Magic Mountain". It does, with the weary and exhausted, love-sick Orlando arriving to recover and leaving after a "One flew over the Cuckoo's nest" style surgery (lobotomy?) that turns him back into a proper warrior and fighting machine. That transformation is depicted by a magnificent, poignant costume change, Orlando stepping out from behind the surgical curtain in full military, Napoleonesque regalia.

The attention to detail and realism in the direction of the singers/actors - check out Dorinda slapping Angelica a bloody nose, for example - is as impressive as the stage itself. The slightly tattered golden and brown hues of the sumptuous set make for a baroque warmth. The movable walls and rooms - so solid, they don't look movable or temporary at all - create countless spaces, rooms, hallways, angles: a labyrinth that evokes The Shining on more than one occasion. The direction takes another cue from that film in the opening of the mad scene when Orlando stands in a door, brightly back-lit, hair messy, a raving grin on his (her) face and an axe in hand.

In updating Orlando, Herzog doesn't restructure the opera, but leaves all the baroque elements in place - except in a guise that viewers can relate to while at the same time having the proper distance from it for such a story to seem authentic. Even the baroque happy end, the lieto fine, is there - without veil of irony or the common `mockery dodge' applied when directors feel embarrassed about the material they work with. The whole thing is good on the ears, a feast for the eyes, and feels true to Handel at his most innovative throughout. -- MusicWeb-International.com, Jens F. Laurson, November 2008

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
The voice is as unusual and odd as beautiful.
R.S.
She nails what seem to be about 30 trills in this music without batting an eye (okay, maybe once she bats an eye . . . sue me!)
G P Padillo
Christina Clark's voice is well suited to 'Bel Canto' singing (to sing beautifully in Italian).
Brian J Hay

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R.S. on December 12, 2008
Format: DVD
Personally, I'm very fond of Marijana Mijanovic. As I've already said, she's one of the rare artists who dares to sing in her own original way. The voice is as unusual and odd as beautiful. It's always a bit shocking to hear a woman, well, a lady with such a virile and masculine voice, which is probably why some people aren't fond of her artistry.
Here, she's at home dramatically throughout the opera. Vocally, she varies from breathtakingly superb (as in Fammi combaterre, Non Fu Gia Men Forte Alcide), to passable (as in Cielo! Se tu il consenti). In the latter, although she shows incredible dramatic comittment, she vocalises in a awkard way possibly due to untimely inspirations. Let's keep in mind though that she's suffered from serious health problems which have endangered and weakened her voice, so considering it her rendition of "Cielo! se tu il consenti" remains good. I can't help wondering how she would've sung that aria five years earlier when she was in great form... Anyway, she's back from a year of sick leave (and pregnancy), and what've heard since she came back seems to indicate that she's back to greatness... To be continued.
Now, this Orlando also introduced me to a name I hadn't heard of before : the divine "Martina Jankova". What an amazingly beautiful voice! what a great dramatic performer! and what a woman! I think she' greatly underrated and doesn't get the recognition she truly deserves... But who knows, a lead role in Orlando might've opened new doors for her, and maybe she's soon release her first recital... One is allowed to dream all right.

The rest of the cast, is nice... not great, but good.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By G P Padillo VINE VOICE on February 20, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
From the very start, Christie led a historically informed and authentic sounding band, pacing them with a rare, dramatic drive and employing special orchestral effects that rendered more modern stage gadgetry almost entirely without necessity. There was plenty of sting and bite when called for, the strings digging into the meat of the music, and there was also an almost restrained lyricism that at times made me feel like I was truly listening to the music of the gods. ( I just read several reviews taking Christie to task and calling his effort here, "dull" - I cannot imagine a less apt description than "dull" for his work here - it is never less than thrilling.)

There is a lot of "meat" for the title character and I was pleased that Christie had at his disposal a contralto, rather than countertenor for this part. The choice of Marijana Mijanovi' is an interesting and wise one. Miss Mijanovi''s voice has a sort of bottled-up quality much more similar in timbre and weight to a countertenor than any female singer I can recall hearing since the Baroque Boom. Slender and elegant, she also (and without resorting to artificial facial hair) makes a rather believable guy. Some of her coloratura (particularly in the last act, where I fear she may also have been running out of steam), was unusually produced, a mixture of the aspirated and chug-a-chug varieties - but it also seemed to be borne of a dramatic, rather than musical choice. Regardless , Mijanovi' gives a bold, theatrical performance. Her depiction of the hero's madness in the last 20 or so minutes of the second act were delightfully and theatrically horrific. This performance was particularly startling to me as several reviews I'd read complained that Mijanovi' was "unconvincing" in the trousers part.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brian J Hay on July 25, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This production is fabulous.

Musically, it's beyond reproach. William Christie takes the score at a faster tempo than he did when he recorded the piece with Les Arts Florissants back in 1996, but, as was the case then, everything he's done serves the music beautifully. If anything, the differences only illustrate the fact that more than one approach can be valid. The playing of The Orchestra "La Scintilla" of the Zurich Opera is impeccable and inspired. Numbers like "Non fu giá men forte Alcide" with its horn obligato bristle with emotional fire. Gentle phrasings such as the lovely string passage that opens the second act express deep feeling without falling into excessive sentimentality. The accompaniment to "Cielo! Se tu il consent" never loses or overplays the darkness that implies the beginnings of Orlando's descent into madness. These are just a few examples.

Marijana Mijanovi' is spectacular in the role of the tormented 'Orlando'. Her singing is very strong through the upper and lower areas of her range and her shadings are very expressive. Her acting is stellar. She's a beautiful woman but her gestures and body language make her very convincing as a man. Her portrayal of Orlando's madness is chilling. Martina Janková is radiant as the lovely but conflicted 'Anjelica'. She uses a lot of vibrato to express the dramatic scope of the music but there's a quality of crystalline clarity at the root of her singing that lays a solid foundation for every note that passes her lips. As an actress (in this part anyway) she conveys seductive qualities that make it easy for the viewer to see why she's at the centre of focus for all the male characters. (They'd be dead if they didn't at least pay attention).
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