Giuseppe Verdi: Les vêpres siciliennes
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Les vêpres siciliennes, like the similarly epic Don Carlos, was conceived as a grand opéra for Paris and is driven by the tensions between private passions and public politics. Originally set during Sicily's 13th-century uprising against French rule, in Christof Loy's staging for the Netherlands Opera the action is transposed to a 1940s world of sudden violence and shadowy double-dealing. Imaginatively cast and idiomatically conducted, the performance presents this magnificent score in its entirety, including the allegorical ballet The Four Seasons.Press Reviews
"Alejandro Marco-Buhrmeister succeeds in evoking our sympathy in 'Au sein de la puissance'. The lovers sing tenderly; but what stands out in their Act 2 duet is some exquisite phrasing in the strings...There are a few cuts, including the cabaletta of Procida's 'Et toi, Palerme', but it's a worthwhile addition to the modest number of French grand operas on DVD. " (Gramophone)
"The Netherlands Opera Chorus...remains one of the most musically and dramatically responsive among major companies. " (International Record Review)Cast
Barbara Haveman (Hélène)
Burkhard Fritz (Henri)
Alejandro Marco-Buhrmester (Guy de Montfort)
Balint Szabo (Jean Procida)
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra; Paolo Carignani
Company: De Nederlandse Opera
Stage Director: Christof Loy
Catalogue Number: OA1060D
Date of Performance: 2010
Running Time: 232 minutes
Sound: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Subtitles: EN, FR, DE, ES
Label: Opus Arte
Top customer reviews
The Sicilian brides of Act II are not "just" abducted and taken advantage of, as in the libretto. After they are subjected to off-stage assault by the French soldiers, they are forced by the French to crawl on hands and knees across broken glass. One major character then commits an even more gruesome unscripted act; I will not spoil this by specifying it. Although some symmetry is provided in the opera's final moments, the act is of questionable dramatic wisdom (well, I couldn't delay judgment forever...), mitigating as it does against the sympathy we should retain for the offending character. Hélène and Procida are strapped in for execution by lethal injection at the end of Act IV; Montfort's intervention comes in time to save only Hélène. Procida's appearance in the final act may be as a specter; only Hélène seems to see and interact with him. Hélène also manages to become pregnant and to go into labor while singing the Bolero.
Much of the look is spare and hollowed out, with some scenes lit harshly from above; props are few. In a strategy familiar from another director's Vienna production of Verdi's other Parisian grand opera, DON CARLOS, in *its* French-language premiere edition, the ballet is presented more as pantomime than dance. Even the set for this skit/interlude, with its floral wallpaper, seems an homage or sequel. Younger versions of Henri, Hélène, and Hélène's now-dead brother engage in silly horseplay at some length. This starts out seeming an idyll from a simpler time, but of course, with a hard-line German Regie (Christof Loy) at the helm, and a lot of music to fill out, it eventually grows weird, heavy, and Oedipal. The brother takes issue with Henri's amorous attentions to Hélène, and Henri gives him a bloody beating. Henri's dumpy middle-aged mother takes the stage and starts swooning and touching herself in the midst of a romantic daydream, and Monfort (younger and older versions, alternating) comes through the window to court and dance with her. Henri shows up and takes violent exception to *that*. And so on.
But. BUT! During the overture-turned-entr'acte, we get video projections of the faces of major and minor Sicilian protagonists, who gradually grow younger before our eyes: sublime, affecting, and shrewd. So is the staging of Procida's introductory aria, not on a shore but in a conference room in which his patriotic musings are accompanied by a scenic slideshow. So is the prominently featured poster of the martyred brother, Frédéric. And so, especially, is director Loy's masterly blocking of much of Act IV, allied to the sincere and direct performances of the singers. At one point, we realize the tenor and soprano have wound up with an entire, nearly bare stage between them; in context, this is a heart-in-throat moment.
Such powerfully communicative choices make the production difficult to dismiss, even though on the whole it is a highly mannered overcorrection. Loy is running fast and far to get away from one extreme (that is, the set-in-stone predictability of historical artifact); his problem is not so much that he runs to the other extreme as that he never stops running. His staging oscillates widely and never settles and jells. It's the kind of production that makes it easy for a virulently anti-Regietheater critic to cite some transgression (the cringe-inducing business with the women and the glass, or the dumpy mother stroking herself) en route to condemning the whole undertaking as so much egocentric bad taste. Nothing in it seems as outrageous when it is viewed in whole, but this does not necessarily make it successful. If waxing indignant and offended about this kind of staging seems very "ten years ago," so does praising it for being bold and provocative. By the time of the taping (2010), this was no longer much to get excited about either way. It's a middling snapshot of the state of its art -- not void of insight or theatrical savvy, but pulled about with a very heavy hand.
The best reason to see and perhaps to own this is the opportunity it affords to hear the opera, in excellent sound, sung live in the original French text. Even more than in DON CARLOS, this makes a difference. The commonplace Italian translation may be easier for Verdi singers to learn and pronounce, but it does Verdi's melodic contours no favors. Conductor Paolo Carignani gets a well-blended, punchy account from the Netherlands Philharmonic, the pace slackening only on occasion, and he does very well with the ballet. Soprano Barbara Haveman is, in her way, as typical of the modern soprano as Loy is of the modern interventionist director -- a good actress, a handsome woman (in the strong-featured Emma Thompson fashion), and a scrupulous musician singing a role in which a lot of the music is beyond what she should or can do. You alternate between cataloging the deficiencies/approximations and getting carried along by intent-as-effect. The two lower-voiced men, Alejandro Marco-Buhrmester (Monfort) and Balintz Szabo (Procida), contrast intriguingly in the paths they take to an adequate showing. The baritone, another dashing stage figure, makes a promising impression in the early going; but over the long evening, limitations become more troublesome, the tone shallow and the colors restricted. The role calls for reserves that are not there. The bass's trajectory is the opposite: his aria wants for smoother legato and more finish to the phrasing (the cabaletta is omitted altogether, which bothered me more than the displacement of the overture), but he strengthens and improves once that hurdle is behind him. The crown jewel of the performance is the Henri of Burkhard Fritz. Unfashionable of physique (a big man a la Merritt or Heppner), he supplies with the voice everything this killer role cries out for -- beauty, line, power, range, stamina. It is a performance worth cheering for, even from the couch.
A bonus feature, both informative and disarming, focuses on a male member of the Netherlands Chorus throughout the period of the production's preparation, but includes interviews with Loy among others.
Set up an Amazon Giveaway
Look for similar items by category
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Arts & Entertainment
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Performing Arts
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Special Interests
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts > Classical
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts > Opera
- Movies & TV > TV