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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



DVD REVIEW

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Johann STRAUSS (1825-1899)
Eine Nacht in Venedig (A Night in Venice) - operetta in two parts (1883)
Guido, Duke of Urbino - Anton de Ridder (tenor)
Annina, (a fisherwoman, Barbara’s foster-sister) - Sylvia Geszty (soprano)
Caramello - Jon Piso (tenor)
Ciboletta (Delacqua’s maid) - Julia Migenes (soprano)
Pappacoda (pasta chef) - Cesari Curzi (tenor)
Barbara (Delacqua’s wife) - Trudeliese Schmidt (mezzo)
Bartolomeo Delacqua (a senator) - Erich Kunz (baritone)
Agricola Barbaruccio – Ljuba Welitsch (mezzo)
Enrico Piselli (Delacqua’s nephew) - Michael Lenz
Stefano Barbaruccio - Karl Dönch
Testaccio - Kurt Sowinetz
Balbi – Erich Fiedler
‘Musik’ Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Josef Schmidhuber
Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Kurt Eichhorn
Filmed: BUFA, Berlin, 14-18 July 1973; soundtrack recorded Bavaria Studios Munich
Picture Format: NTSC 4:3; Sound Format: PCM Stereo; Region Code: 0
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON UNITEL 0734435 [96:00] 

 

Experience Classicsonline


This is an imaginative, sumptuous filming of Johann Strauss’s operetta set in a fantastical, studio-set, 18th century Venice at carnival time. Its theatricality is enhanced by artful devices designed to accentuate the drama and wit of the story: artifices that include mirrors, distortions and even a roving telescope to convey the deception being planned in the first finale’s opening ensemble. The sets and costumes are lavish and the splendid DTS 5.1 Surround Sound of this first international DVD release of the original Václav Kašlik (Czech producer, composer and conductor) film adds icing to a delicious confection.
 

A Night in Venice was first performed in Berlin in October 1883 but was a flop because of dramatic fumbling and calamitous, inane lyrics. Strauss demanded an immediate overhaul for the Viennese premiere, six days later, at the Theatre an der Wien. This was far more successful and the operetta has retained its popularity ever since. 

Unsurprisingly the plot is complicated. I will attempt a broad-brush description. It opens with middle-aged womaniser, the Duke of Urbino, taking an elixir - an early version of Viagra - concocted by Casanova so that he can fully enjoy the temptations of the Carnival in Venice. Senator Delacqua is keen to further his business ambitions by currying favour with the Duke. He has a young beautiful wife, Barbara who is lusted after by Enrico, Delacqua’s nephew. Enrico persuades pasta chef Pappacoda to take Barbara a note suggesting a tryst. Pappacoda’s girl friend, Ciboletta, is jealous when she catches Pappacoda flirting with Annina, Barbara’s foster-sister. Pappacoda after explaining to Ciboletta that Annina was looking for Caramello, the Duke’s personal barber, manages to win Ciboletta over with the hope that they can get married if the Duke employs Pappacoda as his personal chef. Tension also develops in the relationship of Annina and Caramello for she is none too happy with his slowness to commit to marriage. With the Duke determined to conquer Barbara during the masked festivities, the stage is set for complications galore particularly when Barbara duly runs off with Enrico leaving a masked Annina to pose as Barbara in order to meet the Duke and further Delacqua’s ambitions. Later Ciboletta arrives at the festivities claiming to be Barbara too, much to the confusion of the Duke and the jealous rage of Caramello and Pappacoda. 

Although A Night in Venice, cannot compare with Die Fledermaus, it nevertheless has delightful waltzes and other dance melodies. The international cast all impress and they clearly enjoy the fun of this sparkling production. The cherubic-faced Anton de Ridder is excellent as the ambivalent Duke of Urbino, his lyric voice gracing such highlights as the celebrated ‘Sei mir gegrüsst, du holdes Venezia’. The two other tenor roles shine too: Jon Piso as the quick-witted Caramello, especially in his lovely aria as he takes ‘Barbara’ in the gondola to the Duke’s party. Cesare Curzi’s Pappacoda delights as he tries to assure Ciboletta of his unswerving devotion. Sylvia Geszty and Julia Migenes - at the time, based in Munich - are fiery and spirited as Annina and Ciboletta, their long-suffering and vengeful ladies. The veteran singer, Ljuba Welitsch appears in a cameo role as Agricola the leader of a gang of ageing lady admirers of the Duke. 

An altogether delightful divertissement. Just right for a rainy afternoon.

Ian Lace





 


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