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Mozart - Ascanio in Alba

1.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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(Jan 09, 2007)
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$29.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over $49. Details Only 15 left in stock. Sold by livingroom conductor and Fulfilled by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.


Editorial Reviews

CLASSIC MUSIC

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Diana Damrau, Iris Kupke, Sonia Prina, Charles Reid, Christian Benzhaf
  • Directors: Adam Fischer, David Hermann
  • Format: DTS Surround Sound, Classical, Color, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Italian (DTS 5.1), Italian (PCM Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
  • DVD Release Date: January 9, 2007
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 1.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000I8OFLY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,431 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Welcome to a world where gym mats are flying, where cloned chorus members robot-dance their way through the score, where the audience need to wear 3D glasses to appreciate the staging in Act II (wait, which staging?), where Ascanio and Venus appear in their sleeping bag, and where poor Silvia has to sing all her part in a rather ridiculous ballerina outfit...As my previous reviews of the M22 will certify, I am not at all opposed to modern staging. On the contrary, they can help us be enlightened on classical work (Finta Semplice and to a lesser extent Mitridate being two cases in point so far in this collection). But here it seems to me that both David Hermann and Christof Hetzer, responsible for this mise-en-scène, couldn't care less about the audience nor for Mozart's work for that matter. Like Joachim Schloemer in Semplice, Hermann uses actors to cut through the recitatives and make the piece more "actionable" from a theater standpoint. But while Schloemer had a concept (the artist in front of his/her creation) and an utter respect for the work (Semplice remains a comedy all along), Hermann simply makes the actors announce the numbers and mime their way through the piece. The actors also dub the singers during the recitative bit, which after a while is very annoying and tend to turn the singers into concert artists with a suit.

Is it a result of this very upsetting staging? In any case, the musical quality of the performance is not quite at par with what the M22 collection has offered us so far, which is a shame because the music of Ascanio is actually much better than the very static Betulia Liberata, for example. Iris Kupke and Sonia Prina are quite tame in the parts of Venus and Ascanio.
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The most annoing things about this production is that the actors, Voyager I and II, spoke most of the recitatives as the singers on the most part were making hand jestures to go along with the spoken words, and the Voyagers' weird distracting seizure movements, jestures and bodyslamming themselves to the ground while the singers sang. It's amazing how the singers could focus on their arias and keep their composure. I would have given at least 4 stars if the Voyagers were omitted. The great music and singing saved this production from complete disaster. I think Charles Reid and Iris Kupke deserved more credit than they received. I like their voices. It is too bad that they cut out Aceste's other aria from the second act. I wish that the role of Fauno was more involved with the other singers. There was no relationship to any of the other singers. Diana Darau just floats down from the rafters on a swing, sings, then floats away. Cutting out the recitatives made the singers detatched from all emotion and each other. Too plastic. I hope the next production of this opera is more true to life and true to Mozart.
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This could be a short review:
A) The Composer - a 15 year old Genius!
B) The Music - very beautiful and enjoyable.
C) The Conductor - Adam Fischer - Passionate and Excellent!
D) The Orchestra - Fiery and Virtuosic!
E) The cast - an excellent ensemble (Could have a better Tenor).
F) Diana Damrau - SPECTACULAR!!!
G) The production - REDICULOUS!!! I still can't figure out what it is supposed to be telling me. It is very confusing!
H) Sets and Costumes - Ludicrous.
I) The Stage Director - Should be SHOT!!!
J) WHAT A WAST OF MONEY, TIME AND TALENT!!!
K) The management of the Festival should be called to accountability!
L) MOZART AND THE PUBLIC DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS!
I would have given it one star only but, the singers, conductor and orchestra deserve five stars; the stage directing and production zero. The Salzburg Festival, Mozart22, the opera going public and especially the Home Viewing public, let alone the composer deserve better. APOLOGIES FOR THIS INSULT TO ARTISTIC TASTE AND WASTE OF OUR MONIES ARE IN ORDER! We have the right to expect better productions and direction than this!
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"Mozart is lucky he's dead" wrote one critic when reviewing David Hermann's M22 staging of Ascanio in Alba. The reviews for this have been universally dreadful. Ascanio in Alba is one of Mozart's most richly inventive and sublime early operas. Most disappointingly, however, Hermann's production is neither, and the scathing reviews are dead on.

Although Adam Fischer's conducting of Mozart's music is lucid, the Italian secco recitatives are disconcertingly replaced by monotonously tepid narration (supplied by two narrators). Christoff Hetzer's set design required 3d glasses for the premiere audience, which is a telling sign for what comes off like a first year art school student production that reduces transcendental mythology to inept, adolescent science fiction. The Star Trek-looking Alban shepherds appear as badly white-wigged robots who break into frenzied, epileptic seizures as they sing their chorus to Venus. Ascanio (Sonia Prina in bald wig) appears hopping across the stage in a sleeping bag and then gets plopped onto a stack of green, rubber gym mats (those mats reappear time and again for Ascanio to sort of dance with, on, and around). The Alban shepherds reappear, minus face paint but now with Groucho Marx mustaches, what looks like diapers on their heads, and potted plants in their arms. Diana Damrau is an all too brief, charming high point as Fauno on a swing. Silvia (Marie-Belle Sandis), adorned in an embarrassingly ill-fitting ballerina outfit, is thrown into a wheel-barrel, and wheeled onto stage by her chaperone, Aceste (Charles Reid), who wears a fur jacket over a golfing sweater.
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