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Pfitzner: Palestrina [Blu-ray]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Young, Ventris, Rose, Volle
  • Directors: Stuckl
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Classical, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English, German, French
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • DVD Release Date: February 26, 2013
  • Run Time: 208 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00AKGA19Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,080 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Requiring 38 soloists, chorus, and large orchestra, Hans Pfitzner's Palestrina is his most important work and a challenging opera to stage. This masterpiece weaves a fictitious tale around Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina - one in which he fears losing his creative gifts and his powerful role in society. The Bavarian State Opera and conductor Simone Young shine.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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See all 6 customer reviews
Certainly a feast for operaholics.
The second act is quite masterly and a wonderful spectacle with some very vicious and witty dialogue.
John Chandler
Pfitzner surely intended the former but it's the latter that makes this opera fascinating.
Giordano Bruno

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By J. Shaver on 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 By Paul Pelkonen on February 12, 2011
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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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Richard on June 7, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Growing up I never expected to even hear Palestrina let alone see it. But here it is in a very good production. Pfitzner was a disciple of Wagner although he is not given to loud Wagnerian climaxes. The story is the struggle of Palestrina to prevent the church from condemning polyphony at the Council of Trent. The first act - the longest - shows Palestrina's frustration and depression. Will he ever write again? Cardinal Borromeo visits him and demands a new mass that he can use to convince the Pope and Council to allow more polyphony. Palestrina tries to decline and the Cardinal has him thrown in jail. At the end of Act I Palestrina is visited by first, the old masters, and then as he starts to compose, by a choir of angels. Act 2 is the Council of Trent and is a real problem. The content of act one now takes a back seat to the bickering of the bishops. The act ends in a riot. The short third act is the vindication of Palestrina as the Pope comes to honor him.

You can see that this is a spinoff of Meistersinger with the cardinals standing in for the Masters. But it cannot compare. Pfitzner is rather short on melody. The music is easy on the ears but doesn't stand out. The performance here is all one could hope. Christopher Ventris is outstanding in the main role. The production is true to the music. Palestrina is clothed in 20th century garb. The cardinals are all in white with quite a variety of robes. Color is used to good effect. But it all fits together to help tell the story. Certainly a feast for operaholics. The general opera lover should look elsewhere.
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Pfitzner: Palestrina [Blu-ray]
This item: Pfitzner: Palestrina [Blu-ray]
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