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James Levine: Celebrating 40 Years at the Met - DVD Box Set

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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(Dec 07, 2010)
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21
$250.00

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Editorial Reviews

The Metropolitan Opera celebrates the 40th anniversary of James Levine's company debut in this 21 DVD set. This incredible set brings together mostly unreleased performances that have been hand-picked by the maestro for their outstanding quality. Included

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: James Levine, The Metropolitan Opera
  • Directors: James Levine
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 21
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Polygram Records
  • DVD Release Date: December 7, 2010
  • Run Time: 945 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0043XD08Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,827 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Todd Kay on December 7, 2010
The Met's first modern TV broadcast was in 1977, and in 1985 the theater made its home-video debut with four titles on VHS and laser disc. More followed. In the DVD age (1997-), Deutsche Grammophon released many previously unavailable broadcasts and eventually absorbed the catalog of Pioneer, the now-defunct label on which the laser discs and some early Met DVDs had appeared. In 2009, the Met began releasing select titles independently.

The most surprising thing about this box celebrating Maestro Levine's 40-year Met tenure -- when one has taken in all 12 items -- is that after a quarter century of various labels picking the low-hanging fruit (the big Verdis, Wagners, and Puccinis, and any broadcast starring Pavarotti or Domingo), there were still so many riches unclaimed. Perhaps it is best not to ask, as one is inclined to ask many times, "How did *this* not get released before now?" Simply be thankful these performances can be discovered by a new generation (the HD generation) and rediscovered by previous ones. There is only one dud in the bunch, and even that one is far from the weakest Met broadcast on DVD. A few titles, when released individually, will be strong contenders for the best available performance of that opera from any venue.

One has to accept Smetana's THE BARTERED BRIDE (*****), from 1978, on its own terms as a very old-fashioned performance, the kind the Met might have given 25 or 50 years earlier. International stars cope with a valiant but variable English translation (in the worst moment, comedic villain Kecal, boasting of his intelligence, sings about his "bags of brains," an image worthy of a Wes Craven film).
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The earliest performance hails from 1978, Smetana's "The Bartered Bride," with Teresa Stratas, Nicolai Gedda, Jon Vickers, and Martti Talvela, in John Dexter's production. This is possibly the greatest performance under review. The staging is marvelous, the choreography (by Pavel Šmot) is stunning, and the sets (by Josef Svoboda) and costumes (Jan Skalicky) a delight. Dexter's production is one of his finest, and is a marvel of invention and beauty. (Especially noteworthy is the blending of actors and dancers.) The English translation, by the English poet and playwright Tony Harrison, is so far above the ordinary that it makes many other translators' work (say, Ruth and Thomas Martin) risible.

The cast could hardly be bettered. Stratas (who had recorded this opera, in German translation, in 1975, opposite René Kollo and Janet Perry as Esmeralda) is here at her zenith, beautiful and touching as an actress. She was a mistress of intimacy, ideal for the medium of film. Small-scaled and intense, she is the Eleonora Duse to Maria Callas's Sarah Bernhardt. Gedda was past the age of fifty by 1978, yet gives an excellent portrayal of an impetuous, but sly, youth. He is also in splendid voice. Before the prima, Vickers had warned us that we would weep for his character, and indeed we do so. The greatest Tristan, Otello, Énée, Grimes, and Parsifal, is here a stuttering simpleton, who even dons a bear-suit! Talvela, with his impenetrable Finnish accent, is a towering, amusing villain.

In the well-cast secondary roles, we have another distinguished Canadian Heldentenor, Alan Crofoot, as the Circus Manager. He was ideal in this, his Met debut. Tragically, he was the victim of a suicide the following year.
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Verified Purchase
I saw the original broadcasts of many of these operas and I have been in a state of euphoria watching them. People talk about Peter Gelb and the Met's dedication to theatricalizing opera...have they seen these DVDs??????? They are amazingly theatrical and yet vocally and musically uncompromising. Renata Scotto is supreme artist. Teresa Stratas is a revelation. Please watch Jon Vickers bring humanity to a comic character. Tatyana Troyanos is amazing. It makes Anna Netrebko and the rest of them look foolish. I hate to be disrespectful to the younger generation of singers but it is not the same. The release of these DVDs is a fantastic opportunity for true opera lovers to see some of the greatest performances ever given.
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From MetShop:
"The 21-DVD set features 11 complete operas including such star-studded performances as Smetana's The Bartered Bride from 1978 with Teresa Stratas, Nicolai Gedda, Jon Vickers, and Martti Talvela, and Der Rosenkavalier from 1982 with Kiri Te Kanawa, Tatiana Troyanos, Judith Blegen, Luciano Pavarotti, and Kurt Moll. The DVDs also include highlights from historic concerts in 1982 and 1983 featuring five legendary names, Leontyne Price, Marilyn Horne, Tatiana Troyanos, Plácido Domingo, and Sherrill Milnes.

Berg: Lulu
Julia Migenes, Franz Mazura, Evelyn Lear, Kenneth Riegel; December 1980

Berg: Wozzeck
Falk Struckmann, Katarina Dalayman, Wolfgang Neumann, Graham Clark, Michael Devlin; October 2001

Corigliano: The Ghosts of Versailles
Teresa Stratas, Håkan Hagegård, Marilyn Horne, Gino Quilico, Graham Clark, Renée Fleming; January 1992

Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro
Carol Vaness, Kathleen Battle, Frederica von Stade, Thomas Allen, Ruggero Raimondi; December 1985

Puccini: Il Trittico
Renata Scotto, Cornell MacNeil, Vasile Moldoveanu, Betsy Norden, Jocelyne Taillon, Gabriel Baquier, Italo Tajo, Philip Creech; November 1981

Smetana: The Bartered Bride
Teresa Stratas, Nicolai Gedda, Jon Vickers, Martti Talvela; November 1978

R. Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos (Virgin Classics release)
Deborah Voigt, Natalie Dessay, Susanne Mentzer, Richard Margison, Nathan Gunn; April 2003

R. Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier
Tatiana Troyanos, Kiri Te Kanawa, Kurt Moll, Judith Blegen, Derek Hammond-Stroud, Luciano Pavarotti; October 1982

R.
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