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Ritter Blaubart

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 20, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

.Brand new, sealed, audio CD

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 1. Introduction
  2. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 1. Was willst du?
  3. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 1. Eine seltsame Gesellschaft
  4. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 1. Interludium
  5. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 1. Halt, Josua!
  6. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 1. Interludium
  7. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 1. Darf ich euch bitten, verehrte Gäste
  8. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 1. Daß ich diesen Tag erleben mußte
  9. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 1. Werner? Bist du allein?
  10. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 1. Ich habe dich beleidigt
  11. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 1. Hast du den Vater nicht gesehen, Agnes?

Disc: 2

  1. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 2. Welch ein goldener Tag!
  2. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 2. Rate, wer ist das!
  3. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 2. Was bedeutet dies alles!
  4. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 2. Hab' ich denn niemanden und nichts
  5. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 2. Das ist ja Wahnsinn
  6. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 2. Zu Hilfe! Was war das!
  7. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 2. Still! Still! Herz!
  8. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 2. Interludium
  9. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 3. Gott gebe dir Frieden, toter Mensch
  10. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 3. Halt' ein!
  11. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 3. Komm', Hinz!
  12. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 3. Interludium
  13. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 3. Wie wird das enden, Rainer?
  14. Ritter Blaubart, opera: Act 3. So hetzt ihre Seele den andern nach


Product Details

  • Conductor: Michail Jurowski
  • Composer: Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek
  • Audio CD (May 20, 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: CPO
  • Run Time: 133 minutes
  • ASIN: B00008WD64
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,271 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Eric D. Anderson on January 4, 2005
Reznicek's score for his 1920 opera "Ritter Blaubart" is a blockbuster! Wow!! I can't say a single negative thing about it. It was a refreshing change of pace after alot of listening to Mahler, Zemlinsky, early Schoenberg, etc. Not because I don't love those guys, because I really do! But they all come from the Mahlerian strain of German music--lots of
yearning, angst, and introspection.

But Reznicek's music rings with the noble horns and heroic air of Richard Wagner. Reznicek aligned himself with Strauss and Pfitzner, and I heard some Strauss in "Ritter Blaubart" as well. But the overriding impression, which grew and grew as I listened, was that of a die-hard Wagnerian. It's really a very old-fashioned score for 1920, though it's none-the-worse for that. It has ensemble scenes, and a wonderful, almost "Forging Song" like aria for Bluebeard's servant Joshua just before the denoument--a wonderful dramatic stroke.

For the libretto, though, my enthusiasm isn't as unmixed.

The story is a variant of the same Bluebeard story set by composers such as Bartok, Offenbach, and Dukas. In this telling, Bluebeard is set to marry Judith (having killed and beheaded his first 5 wives), and gives her a key to a door which she must promise not to open. Of course, when Bluebeard goes travelling, she can't resist. The key becomes irreversably stained with blood, and when Bluebeard discovers this, he murders her as well. After the funeral, Bluebeard starts to woo Judith's sister Agnes, but Bluebeard's guilt-ridden servant Joshua burns down the Castle with Bluebeard inside, while Agnes leaps to her death.

The language itself is very skillful. But the plot seems unfocussed. Who are we supposed to identify with? Judith, Agnes, or Bluebeard? Hard to say.
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Urged and encouraged by the previous reviewer's honest, detailed and enthusiastic advocacy of this virtually unknown opera, premiered in 1920, I made the modest investment necessary and agree that this is worthy, interesting and even absorbing in parts.

It is really too rich and overloaded a concoction, reminiscent of Strauss in "Salome" and "Elektra" mode and also even of Bartok - not just from the obvious thematic connection with "Duke Bluebeard" but also musically - but full of arresting effects and unexpected instrumental colouring: restless, mercurial and disjointed, expressionist violence alternating with lyrical or melodic flights and punctuated by extended orchestral interludes. Amidst all the inventive note-spinning, one occasionally wishes for a more palpable attachment to melody. Otherwise, with sobbing, gypsy-violin riffs and manic, percussive outbursts, big brass blares and spooky, gothic scene-painting, there's no lack of variety of form or mood in this music and it requires playing and singing of virtuosic standard. In that regard, neither the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin or the singers let us down: I was really struck by the beauty of the orchestra's sound and none of the singers, despite nary a name being known to me, is less than competent while some are really impressive. Michail Jurowski's spirited direction is unflaggingly pointed and attentive. The climactic ensemble ending Act 1 is a real belter, rivalling anything in Strauss. The opening two Act 2 sounds like a blatant rip-off from a judicious amalgam of the start of "Gurrelieder" and the beginning of Act 2 of "Tristan und Isolde". The grave-robbers' short scene seems to be a smaller-scaled homage to the appearance of the grave-digger in "Hamlet".
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The CPO revival of the music of Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek continues with this full-blooded grand opera slightly reminiscent of Schreker or Strauss (although somewhat more conservative). It is no masterpiece, not by a long shot, but Reznicek's unerring sense of dramatic pacing and his ability to score effective, fiery orchestral parts saves much when invention starts flagging (which it admittedly does at a couple of points in this opera). Bluebeard is here clinically insane from the very start, providing the opportunity for some migraine-like turbulent fin-de-siecle coloration and gloom which persist throughout the whole work. After murder, gore and madness aplenty, the whole work culminates in the castle going up in flames (consuming Bluebeard while Agnes, sister of the main female character Judith - murdered and decapitated earlier in the opera - throws herself into a ravine upon learnin the truth). In short, plenty of room for musical firework and turmoil.

While Reznicek doesn't display, say, Schreker's mastery in the musical setting of grandiose decadence, the dramatic tension and urgency never really flags and the vocal parts, which, while not containing any really memorable stand-alone arias, are violently expressive. And the soloists here are really good. Pittman-Jennings in the title-role is superb, both in his characterization of the insane Bluebeard (full of horror, but without turning him it into anything parodic) and in his ability to tackle the hurdles thrown at him with aplomb. Celina Lindsley as Judith is dramatic and powerful, but lacks, perhaps, some subtlety and tender innocence. Andion Fernandez as Agnes, on the other hand, is suitably nuanced but perhaps without the fiery edge one might think her character needs.
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