Robert Schumann - Genoveva (Opernhaus Zurich)
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You don't have to know that the Faust scenes were written over many years to conclude that it's an artistic garage sale. Particularly frustrating are portions written shortly before the composer's death; they feel sketchy and detached from their dramatic needs. Yet Faust unquestionably has some of Schumann's most compelling non-symphonic music, particularly in the soliloquys, at which this smart cast excels. Though this recording has some starry competition, baritone Gerhaher's Faust is a trump card. -- David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer, January 10, 2010
Top Customer Reviews
Musically, people tend to think of Schumann as the composer of small miniatures. As a result, he is not easily associated with larger orchestral works such as Szenen aus Goethe`s Faust and the genre of opera. These works are therefore unfortunately hardly ever performed. When I heard that Mr. Harnoncourt wanted to do a scenic production of this opera and that it has been a 15-year old wish of his to do so I did not hesitate and drove the 600+ miles to Zurich to see this production twice.
Harnoncourt is a strong advocate of Schumann`s music and has been for a number of years. An older ecording of Genoveva with him is available on cd. This performance is completely different, though. Contrasts are much sharper, musical lines longer, tension more evident. What really stands out is the richness of the orchestral sound. The performance makes it evident that Scumann is a great composer, not only of miniatures but also, perhaps especially, of great vocal works. Every detail is audible in the orcestra as well as the chorus, singers stand out when the score calls for it and blend when this is indicated. What beautifull music! Why is this piece never ever performed?! And how is it possible that an almost 80 year old Harnoncourt still treads new ground in choice as well as performance? It is incredible how he takes you by the scruff of the neck, as it were, and forces you to see what a complete musical genius Schumann really is..
The music as well as the story has a sort of `holiness`to it that reminds me of the great oratoria sich as Haydn`s Creation, for example. In this respect Schumann breaks new ground with this opera.Read more ›
I knew that Harnoncourt has been an advocate for "Genoveva" for years, and I was really looking forward to seeing and hearing the opera. I found the music attractive, even moving. The plot stretched credibility, but no more so than "Norma" or "Il Trovatore," both of which I have seen repeatedly and love.
I found the performance superior musically, but I suspect that Harnoncourt's tempi, which have generally slowed in the past few years, were too slow to present the opera at its best.
The staging, however, was a major disappointment. It was Eurotrash at its very worst. Medieval knights and peasants were garbed in Edwardian(?)dress. Most of the performance took place in a white box with only a chair, a sink, and a mirror. All the major characters stood on the chair at one time or other, and most of them hid behind it from time to time. They also stood on the sink, and Genoveva climbed into and out of it several times while the libretto said that she was being forced by peasant captors to struggle up hill. Characters who left the scene, according to the libretto, often simply remained in the box and looked bored. And then there was the chorus throwing fish at a nude Genoveva--whatever that meant.
I found the staging almost unwatchable, and had great difficulty sitting through the entire opera. I certainly was not going to sit through it again, and immediately sold it back to the store from which it was purchased. If you're curious about "Genoveva" rent or borrow the DVD, but don't buy it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As the overture begins, we see four characters in a brilliantly lit, antiseptically white room, reminiscent of an operating theater. Read morePublished on August 14, 2011 by Nostromo
Honestly, these must be dreadful times for opera lovers with fuddy-duddy taste. Those whose hearts and ears are indelibly imprinted with late 20th C Romanticism, I mean, who... Read morePublished on October 25, 2010 by Gio
The problem with this opera is director Martin Kusej. I tried to watch it to the end, but in vain; it's just too bizarre and boring. Read morePublished on February 22, 2010 by P. Sutherland
Martin Kusej is one of my favourite stage directors and although I have to admit that I didnt get everything he tried to convey here, it is nontheless a very clever... Read morePublished on May 28, 2009 by Thomas Pollak
I absolutely agree with the previous reviewers,specially with Mr.Cahill.
This DVD is pathetic and why would someone watch it or go see the production at the opera house is... Read more
Sean Mathey is outstanding! All of the principle voices are excellent. The show is a bit weird.Published on January 12, 2009 by TicketSpigot
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