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Rachmaninov - The Miserly Knight / Leiferkus, Berkeley-Steele, Schagidullin, Voynarovskiy, Mikhailov, Jurowski, Glyndebourne Opera

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Cavaliere Avaro (Il) / The Miserly Knight

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Sergei Leiferkus, Richard Berkeley-Steele, Maxim Mikhailov, Vladimir Jurowski, Albert Schagidullin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Russian (Dolby Digital 5.1), Russian (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Alliance
  • DVD Release Date: July 19, 2005
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009K7J5K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,849 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 27, 2005
This production of Rachmaninoff's opera, 'The Miserly Knight,' was part of a double-bill on the theme of avarice at Glyndebourne in July 2004. The other opera on the bill was Puccini's 'Gianni Schicchi,' already reviewed glowingly by me here at Amazon. Stage director Annabel Arden gets credit for making this exceedingly difficult-to-stage opera come alive. She did so at least partly by adding a character not in the score, a figure, played by aerialist Matilda Leyser, who personifies Greed and who also acts out, in a way, the kind of commentary on the action provided by Rachmaninoff's orchestral score. Leyser is stunningly creepy, bringing a kind of subtext to the action that might not otherwise have come across. Arden also gives less than noble instincts to the character of the Duke who in Pushkin's text is rather more of a cipher. In any event, the staging is perfect for this claustrophobic meditation on the power of greed, one of Pushkin's so-called 'Little Tragedies.'

As to the musical aspects of this productions, full marks all round. Vladimir Jurowski, an exciting conductor, is in complete control of the complicated musical textures. Rachmaninoff provided a very dense, almost a-melodic orchestral and vocal score that is psychologically astute; Glyndebourne's house orchestra, the London Philharmonic, has the full measure of it, as do the singers. The middle scene, a 24-minute monolog by the Knight in his cellar with his collection of chests of gold pieces, is masterfully done by baritone Sergei Leiferkus. Also outstanding is huge-voiced basso Albert Schagidullin as the Duke. Only slightly less effective is tenor Richard Berkeley-Steel as the Knight's son, Albert.
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Rachmaninov wrote only three operas, Aleko, The Miserly Knight (1906, written between the second and third piano concerti) and Francesca da Rimini. The story of 'The Miserly Knight' is essentially philosophical, presented as the tale of how greed robs people of their humanity. It is adapted from Pushkin, and retains most of the elements of Pushkin's blank verse poem.
This is a thought-provoking psychological work set to dark and haunting music. It is not the Rachmaninov of the piano concerti; less lyrical and more dramatic, but just as appealing, with great melodic orchestral sweeps. It is written in the style of German opera - no actual arias to remain in the memory, but very musical (read: listenable and enjoyable) recitative employing leitmotivs. The 'musical' progression comes more from the drama, which leads the music.
This is an opera that must be done well to succeed, and on this performance it succeeds in every respect. It is a masterpiece, and makes you wish that Rachmaninov had written more operas.
The original setting is England in Medieval times, but like so many productions, it has been modernized into an abstract setting of indefinite period. This works well, except for the appearance of one character in a modern suit. The musical performance, as others have observed, is wonderful. The opera was written for Chaliapin, and the Russian baritone, Sergei Leiferkus, is marvelous in that role of the 'miserly Knight', especially in a 20 minute monolog in the second scene. This amazing passage justifies buying the DVD just for that passage alone.
Most of the small cast is Russian and there is not one weak link. Jarowski, with one of the world's greatest orchestras, captures the unique Russian feel, and interprets every part of the score perfectly.
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Not much of a plot, but who cares. The music is great and the signing just beautiful. The long monologue (about 24 minutes) is opera at its best. The soul, and not necessarily the best moral one, put in music.

worth listening many times.
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With little in the way of plot this masterpiece has much in the way of drama. Greed, covetousness and entitlement make for this tragedy. Indeed, love of money is the cause of much evil and this senseless hording opens the door to disaster. There is a dancer, a muse, who haunts the main characters as they sing. The production is excellent and dark.
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