Zemlinsky: Der Zwerg (The Dwarf) / Ullmann: Der zerbrochene Krug (The Broken Jug)  [Live from Los Angeles Opera, 2008] [Blu-ray]
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Zemlinsky: Der Zwerg (The Dwarf) / Ullmann: Der zerbrochene Krug (The Broken Jug) [Live from Los Angeles Opera, 2008] [Blu-ray] (2010)

Rodrick Dixon , Mary Dunleavy , Darko Tresnjak , Kenneth Shapiro  |  NR |  Blu-ray
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Zemlinsky: Der Zwerg (The Dwarf) / Ullmann: Der zerbrochene Krug (The Broken Jug)  [Live from Los Angeles Opera, 2008] [Blu-ray] + Walter Braunfels: Die Vogel (The Birds) [Live from Los Angeles Opera, 2009] [Blu-ray]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Rodrick Dixon, Mary Dunleavy, Susan B. Anthony, Bonaventura Bottone, James Conlon
  • Directors: Darko Tresnjak, Kenneth Shapiro
  • Writers: Alexander Zemlinsky, Viktor Ullmann
  • Producers: Los Angeles Opera, Placido Domingo
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Classical, NTSC, Widescreen, Color
  • Language: German (DTS-HD 5.1), German (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Arthaus Musik/LA Opera
  • DVD Release Date: October 26, 2010
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0040Y7EM4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,836 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

World premiere DVD recordings. These are the first fully-staged productions of the LA Opera's
'Recovered Voices' project, which highlights the works of composers affected by the Holocaust.
Despite the popularity of these operas' source material (The Broken Jug is a famed 19th century
play that was actually first staged by Goethe in 1808), these works from Zemlinsky and Ullmann
remained buried for decades due to the destructive policies of the Nazi regime.

'Full recognition of their works and genius still awaits Alexander Zemlinsky and Viktor Ullmann,
more than sixty-five years after their deaths. Their works, in their very different ways, are powerful, vibrant, life-affirming and tragic in turn. They pulsate with the complexity of the human condition. Their lives and personal histories were tragic, but their music transcends it all. It is for us to appreciate their story in its full historic and artistic context.' James Conlon

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An odd couple, but it works... November 13, 2010
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I saw Alexander Zemlinsky's The Dwarf years ago on stage and I think it is a wonderful opera - very effective and touching. It is good to see that it's finally out on DVD. It is paired here with a short opera by Viktor Ullmann, The Broken Jug, after the play by Kleist. Kudos to James Conlon and the LA Opera for staging and recording these two operas. They are very different and have nothing in common, but somehow they work well together and make for an interesting evening of 20th century opera. (For those who now fear the worst, let me add that both operas are tonal, and you will even hear some melodies!)

Although The Dwarf was first performed about 20 years prior to The Broken Jug, it sounds more modern. It's lush music, with some exotic elements thrown in. Zemlinsky really deserves to be performed more often, but thanks to conductors like Conlon, it looks like we are getting there.

The real surprise for me was The Broken Jug. Although the Zemlinsky is the more substantial piece, this little comedy is really well-written. The music is a lot of fun, it is quirky and fits the comedy. It reminds me of a modernized Lortzing, which might actually be the idea... It is very fast-paced, and the whole thing is over before you know it. The opera is only about 40 minutes long, and time flies by.

Both productions are completely traditional. There are some nice touches, for example an extensive shadow play during the overture to the Ullmann opera which summarizes what happens before the opera starts. No big names among the singers, but all of them are up to the task.

The sound and picture quality (Arthaus) is disappointing compared to the standard that other labels like Opus Arte have set.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This work captures the soul of Zemlinsky December 2, 2010
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Zemlinsky reached maturity in Vienna, during the fin-de-siecle period when art nouveau was all the rage. Mahler, the greatest influence on his music, was director of the Vienna Court opera at that period. Zemlinsky reached his peak during the first world war. Zemlinsky in his life time was known as a conductor more then a composer.He taught Schoenberg and became his brother in law. Alma Schindler had an affair with him and left, taking up with Mahler, then married him.Zemlinsky never recovered from the ending of this relationship with Alma. Der Zwerg might sum up himself,a very short, unattractive man,who wrote the Zwerg-the Dwarf, based upon Oscar Wildes story, to come to terms with his own inner demons.He was considered too modern for the conservatives and too old fashioned for the avant-guards serialism. He fled the Nazi's in 1934 and Vienna in 1938. He lived out his life alone in the United States and virtually forgotten, dying in 1942. Zemlinsky's best known work is his Lyric Symphony op 18, with poems written by Tagore, translated into German in 1914. A beautiful work. I am a fan of his.

Victor Ullmann served as Kapellmeister under Zemlinsky in Prague in the 1920's. He had also studied with Schoenberg.Both rejected Serial music and were looking for a new music. Ullmann wrote three operas in the Terezin Concentration camp. He wrote the Broken Jug before entering Terezin in September 1942. This is about a comic depiction of a judge in a small town.Ullmann died in Auschwitz in October of 1944. The Nazi's destroyed the lives of so many artists. Will it happen again somewhere?Could the computer be used by a regime to control its people. This performance under Conlon is good.All round good performances by the singers.

Der Zwerg is my prime interest.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rare offering well worth listening to February 12, 2011
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Der Zwerg is the jewel here and it is beautifully staged and performed. Reminiscent of early Schönberg the tonal music is quite easy on the ear and the performance is well worth repeat viewing. The Broken Jug is very light and not as substantial but it is short and colourful. It is so sad that the hated Nazis destroyed so much Jewish talent in central Europe and recent offerings of lost gems are most welcome.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This DVD from the Los Angeles Opera presents a compelling double bill by two composers whose voices were silenced by the so-called cultural policies of the Third Reich. Viktor Ullmann's Der zerbrichene Krug ("The Broken Jug") leads off, a frothy 40-minute comedy about judicial corruption. It is paired here with Der Zwerg, a tragic one-act opera by Alexander von Zemlinksy.

L.A. Opera music director James Conlon staged these works as the first installemtn in Recovered Voices, an admirable initiative to explore and perform the stage works of composers whose works were declared "Entartete", or "decadent" by the Nazis. (This DVD is the first recording of the Ullmann opera.) Krug was completed in 1942, just before the composer was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. (Ullmann's most famous opera, Der Kaiser von Atlantis was written there in the year before the composer's death.)

This work gives listeners the chance to hear Ullmann at his most melodic and inventive, writing for a full orchestra instead of the tiny forces used for Kaiser. The orchestration is rich, the melodies memorable, and the comedy compelling. If history had been different, this work would be a repertory piece, at least earning its keep as a light curtain-raiser.

Der Zwerg is based on The Infanta's Birthday by Oscar Wilde, and retells the story of a Spanish princess who is given a hunchbacked dwarf as a present for her 18th birthday. The dwarf falls in love with the princess, only to have his heart broken. The work had deep meaning for Zemlinsky, and reflects the composer's insecurities through a poetic mirror.

Part of the reason for the work's obscurity is the title role: a demanding tenor part.
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