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Walter Felsenstein Edition


List Price: $149.99
Price: $126.79 & FREE Shipping. Details
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12-Disc Version
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Product Details

  • Actors: Various Artists
  • Directors: Felsenstein
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: German (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 12
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Arthaus
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2008
  • Run Time: 1038 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001HBX8O6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #329,698 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Felsenstein, the founder and general director of the Komische Oper in Berlin, was one of the 20th century's greatest creative theatre directors. This unique collection brings together 7 opera films in a rare documentation. The films can now be experienced

Review

Seven of Felsenstein's productions were filmed under his supervision, some remodeled from their stage versions, some filmed "straight." All seven now come on DVD, in a box of twelve discs, marketed at the absurdly low price of $149. None of them represent "authentic" versions of the operas at hand; some are in black&white, only one of the seven (Fidelio) is sung in its proper language, and that one is drastically cut (for the better). But there is a level of dramatic creativity here that is so fascinating, so worth your study and your ponder, that this handsomely produced Art-Haus box from our friends at Naxos cannot be dismissed. And in the case of the "drastically cut" Fidelio, which is furthermore played in fresh German air rather than on a stodgy stage set, I cannot see anyone going back to all that silly operetta stuff at the beginning of the original score, once we learn the essence of Beethoven's true drama.

But it is the Vixen that really sells this set. Felsenstein moved his production from the opera house to East German TV studios, where he could have a free hand with the forest insects and animals, and with the yokels of the human story as well. The interaction among the species is simply fabulous in the literal sense; the wooing of the two foxes will take you to within earshot of Tristan. Rudolf Asmus, who sings the Forester, was one of the few notable stars of Felsenstein's East German company; a few Americans had also slipped through the Curtain and show up in minor roles. Nobody in his company is less than competent; the once-famous Magda Laszlo is Fidelio's Fidelio, the voice-over for a handsome lad who actually looks the part. -- SoIveHeard.com, Alan Rich, February 2009

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By F. Behrens HALL OF FAME on June 28, 2008
Format: DVD
In May 2008, The New York Times printed a long review of a set of ArtHaus Musik DVDs titled "Walter Felsenstein Edition." Felsenstein is a name familiar only to students interested in filmed operas, and seven of his films are included in this 12-disc collection.

Only one is a film in the strict sense, Beethoven's "Fidelio" (1956), reduced to 1.5 hours and shot in black and white with only some of the persons on screen actually singing. Janacek's "The Cunning Little Vixen" (1965) is a black and white telecast with a somewhat fuzzy picture. (These two are included on single DVDs, the rest take up two discs each.) Two of them are filmed versions of stage performances: Mozart's "Don Giovanni" (1966, in black and white) and "The Marriage of Figaro" (1976). The remaining three were filmed in a studio to be shown on television: Offenbach's "Blue Beard" (1973) and "Tales of Hoffmann" (1970), and Verdi's "Otello" (1969). Note: they are all sung in a German text.

Since Felsenstein's little theater, The Berlin Comic Opera, could not afford high-salaried stars, he built up his own little troupe and most of them are quite good. For reasons of space, I will omit their names in this report. What the Times reporter left out were some negative aspects, which I cannot in honesty pass over.

First, this set costs a bundle. The Times priced it anywhere between $350 and $500, and Amazon.com is asking about $450. The discs are not in DVD cases but held by buttons on seven large cards that contain printed notes about each opera. This makes them very awkward to store--and I had to put them into empty jewel cases so they would fit in with other DVDs.

Four of the operas are lip-synched, at times obviously so.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gary L. Hoffman on July 18, 2009
Format: DVD
Walter Felsenstein (1901-1975) was the founder and, for years, director of the Komische Oper Berlin, one of the premiere ensembles of the former East Berlin. In his long career he was responsible for almost 200 opera productions and also left a legacy of seven opera films, which are now available on DVD in a single set. The set includes (1) Beethoven: Fidelio (1956); (2) Janacek: The Cunning Little Vixen (1965); (3) Mozart: Don Giovanni (1966); (4) Verdi: Otello (1969); (5) Offenbach: Les contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) (1970); (6) Offenbach: Barbe-bleu (Bluebeard) (1973); and (7) Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) (1975-76).

In presenting these seven films in this convenient set, the Felsenstein Archive also makes available background material and some historic footage. The second disc of Othello includes a presentation of Felsenstein's working notes, as well as an interview with the director. With Ritter Blaubart, the materials move logically from text to graphics and, eventually, to footages of a rehearsal of the staged version of that work. Materials like these are found throughout the set, and also include some historic films from Pariser-Leben (1945); Die Fledermaus (1947); Die Kluge (1948); Orpheus in der Unterwelt (1948); and Carmen (1949). Such materials augment the solid information found in the detailed booklets that are included with each film.

This set not only preserves the groundbreaking work of Walter Felsenstein in filming opera, but also makes it available dynamically through the medium of DVD. The restoration involved with the creation of this set, an element documented in the accompanying materials, contributes to the overall effect.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Wood on July 14, 2008
Format: DVD
The box of operas produced and directed by Felsenstein is indeed a revelation. It's a pity the Janacek is not in color, and I can't get enthusiastic about Offenbach, but The Otello, the Figaro, the Fidelio (though the last is also black and white) are marvellous. What a pity that nowadays nowadays we seem to get only versions of productions, not actual, thought-through, beautifully directed FILMS!.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark E. Herriott on May 14, 2010
Format: DVD
When this set first came out, I really wanted to buy it. However the initial price of around $400 was way too steep and I was really only interested in Ritter Blaubart and Tales of Hoffman. Now, they're releasing the films individually. I guess they discovered that not everyone wanted to send $300-$400 at one time for possibly several movies they may not want. FYI: if you're looking for Tales of Hoffman, it's actual title is Hoffman's Erzahlungen. You won't find otherwise. I haven't received Hoffman's Erzahlungen yet, but Ritter Blaubart is total enjoyment and everyone is perfect in their roles. I gave the set only two stars, as it's really not the best value for your money.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark E. Herriott on May 17, 2010
Format: DVD
When this set first came out, it was priced way out of reach at about $350-$400. While I wanted to get it, that was a lot more than I wanted to pay and there were only a couple of the movies that I even had an interest in seeing. I was please when they started to release the movies individually. I immediately purchase Ritter Blaubart. If you're looking for Tales of Hoffman, its actually under it's German title of Hoffmans Erzahlungen.
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