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Palestrina (2009)

 NR |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

List Price: $39.99
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Blu-ray 1-Disc Version $37.98  
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Product Details

  • Format: Classical, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 5.0), German (DTS 5.0), German (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, French, German
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • DVD Release Date: May 25, 2010
  • Run Time: 207 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003E113Q2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,460 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Christopher Ventris, Peter Rose, Michael Volle, John Daszak, Roland Bracht, Falk Struckmann, and Christiane Karg star in this 2009 Bavarian State Opera production of the Pfitzner opera conducted by Simone Young. This 2 DVD set also includes a bonus film o

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Garish Cartoon July 17, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I suppose that we in the 21st century will never again see an opera the way the composers intended it to be seen. Instead we will see stagings by directors who have no knowledge of operatic tradition and/or are possessed of colossal egos. When we see a director deciding to stage overtures or preludes we know also that he or she has no love of music. This is an opera that I never expected to see in any guise. Now I have (more or less). The sets and costumes are bright primary colors that make the opera appear to be a cartoon. Anachronisms abound. One of the participants at the Council of Trent is eating an ice cream cone and the papal legate arrives in a limousine. Makeup is particularly garish and reminds one of kabuki. If one is wearing a green costume then he has green eyeshadow and green lipstick. The Pope resembles a Hindu deity, and Palestrina's son has so much eyeshadow that one knows that the composer will never be a grandfather. Although visually it is a fright, the opera is well sung with the surround sound clearer than the 2-channel stereo. As mentioned above the opera has much in common with Die Meistersinger, but Pfitzner is no Wagner. There are sublime moments, but also long stretches where inspiration lags or disappears altogether. It will make you want to run out and listen to one of Palestrina's masses.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Pfitzner based his "musical legend" on a (fictional) incident in the life of composer Giovanni Pierluigi di Palestrina. The opera depicts the grieving composer (Christopher Ventris) in his struggle to overcome the death of his wife and write the Missae de Papae Marcelli. At stake: the fate of polyphonic music in the Church at the Council of Trent, featuring a vast array of squabbling cardinals and archbishops jockeying for political power. There is some sublime orchestral writing to be heard, and the last half of Act I (which depicts the creation of the Mass) soars with inspiration.

This production (by Christian Stückl) presents a surreal drama, with Palestrina himself as the one living man surrounded by white-faced ghosts and (worse yet) rebellious music students. The staging presents a fever-dream environment picked out in white, hot pink and luminous, sickly green. Huge, hideous puppets depict Palestrina's deceased wife and later the Pope.

The Council of Trent becomes a nightmare in the middle of the opera, a meeting of grotesque men in funny hats, with one Cardinal arriving in a white stretch limo. All this is very interesting to look at for a while, but the puppets make it hard for the singers to articulate and the makeup makes the viewer long for actual flesh tones.

The title role requires a strong Wagnerian tenor who can act and bring pathos to Palestrina's creative crisis. Christopher Ventris does an admirable job, soaring through the "Kyrie Eleison" passage and the lengthy dialogues with his nemesis, Cardinal Borromeo. Falk Struckmann brings his fine acting abilities to the role of the Cardinal, but his voice shows the wear of singing Wotan on the international stage.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent achievement March 16, 2013
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
This opera will not suit everyone but it is a magnificent achievement. The staging and costumes of Acts 2 and 3 are most original and a feast of colour, action and song. Pfitzner was an odd bird, a follower of Wagner and a supporter of the Nazis but this work, his masterpiece is an astonishing creation. Like Wagner he uses a tale that is as up-to date as yesterdays newspaper, coming on the election of the new Pope from Argentina it shows little has changed in the centuries since the Council of Trent! The second act is quite masterly and a wonderful spectacle with some very vicious and witty dialogue. My only grumble was the odd decision to put Palestrina and his student into modern dress, it looked ridiculous, especially when everyone else was so wonderfully turned out. The orchestra under the German speaking Australian Simone Young was wonderful and the camera work and picture quality one of if not the best operatic Blu-ray discs I have seen. If only Euro Arts could apply such talent to the operas of say Sallinen, Gershwin and Prokofiev they could greatly enrich our operatic options on Blu-ray. A splendid disc, if you have any taste for post Wagnerian opera do not hesitate.
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