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Handel - Agrippina / Daniels, Kuebler, Hall, von Kannen, Ostman, Schwetzingen Opera Festival

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Guenter von Kannen, Barbara Daniels, David Kuebler, Janice Hall, and Carlos Feller star in this Schwetzinger Festival performances of the Handel opera with Arnold Oestman conducting the London Baroque Players.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Barbara Daniels, David Kuebler, Arnold Ostman, Janice Hall, Gunter von Kannen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • DVD Release Date: October 18, 2005
  • Run Time: 150 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000B6N5Z0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,641 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Handel - Agrippina / Daniels, Kuebler, Hall, von Kannen, Ostman, Schwetzingen Opera Festival" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
This is a comedy with a ridiculous plot (modeled after Roman History). The music direction and orchestra are very good as you would expect of Ostmann and the Schwetzingen festival orchestra. The sound is good and the four principal singers are good to excellent. The music is good Handel. The plot is the machinations of Agrippina (Barbara Daniels) in order to put her son Nerone (David Kuebler) on the throne or as her husband's (Claudio, Gunther von Kannen) successor. At the same time, Poppea (Janice Hall) is learning from Agrippina and trying to become a major power behind the throne or empress by the methods of Agrippina. Poppea was a mistress of the miserable Ottone who is cut out of the succession during the action, and is juggling both Claudio and Nerone as lovers currently. The emperor Claudio is a bore with inflated ideas about his sexual attractiveness and generally not too bright. Agripinna is a hypocritical manipulator who pulls out all the stops a middle aged woman can to get her husband to do what she wants. Nerone is a silly self-centered kid who also isn't very smart and seems to be handled by his mother. All the same, he has a suitably sinister air when he isn't at the center of the action. Poppea is the brightest star of the group with really superb singing as an amoral courtesan who will do whatever it takes and be as hypocritical as she needs to be to get to her goals. The acting that conveys this is excellent in a broad comic way. Poppea's singing is outstanding and she is the one we want to here about. The remaining principals also sing well, especially Claudio who manages to sing accurately while carrying out the role as a bufoon. The only complaint I have about this production is the singing of Ottone who has several arias. His baritone is wobbly and terribly inaccurate. The only real remedy is to fast forward through these and realize it doesn't mar the action.
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Format: DVD
While this 1985 performance by the Koln Opera at the Schwetzingen Opera Festival shares a few of the faults of its only other DVD competition, most notably in the transposition of roles, the direction by Michael Hampe is unobtrusively enjoyable and, as usual with his productions, boasts breathtakingly beautiful sets and costumes by Maruo Pagano. The orchestra and conductor are exemplary period performers and are a delight to listen to and while none of the rest of the cast can match Barbara Daniels' high level of dramatic and vocal delivery it is, by and large, a most enjoyable experience. I'd have been quite happy to sit through this performance in the theatre and, until a better recording comes along, will be content revisiting this DVD.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
... between an old-and-old-fashioned staging with pleasing costumes but mediocre singing and a newer staging with marvelous singing but hideous costumes and dopey props. Me, I'd have no hesitation; I'd go for the musical values and grit my teeth at the fright wigs. In fact, I've already done so; you can read my review of the French production starring Veronique Gens and Philippe Jarrousky - Handel: Agrippina - right here on amazon.

This production at the Schwetzingen Opera Festival was filmed in 1985, with Arnold Östman conducting the London Baroque Players. The colors are a bit dingy, suggesting that it was filmed for TV, but the sound recording is quite good, better in fact than most opera films of that era. Unfortunately, that high fidelity serves mostly to expose the singers' shortcomings, particularly their rather inconsistent tuning. Barbara Daniels has the largest role, as Agrippina, and she doesn't come close to the vocal virtuosity of Veronique Gens in that other production. Baritone David Kuebler sings the role of Nerone an octave lower than Handel would have expected, since the music was composed for a castrato. Philippe Jaroussky, the premiere male soprano of our times, sings Nerone in the other production, and yes, his is the fright wig even I have to sneer at, but his singing is luscious. Kuebler wears a smirk on his face throughout that evokes the malformed character of Nero quite aptly, but his singing is too blunt an instrument for Handelian arias. Gens and Jaroussky are so much better musically than their counterparts that I'd recommend taking off your glasses or dimming your TV screen to hear them if you simply can't bear their costumes.

Comparing these two productions is quite a clear revelation of how much higher the standard of vocal technique in baroque operas has become over the last 25 years.
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