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Opera Night Deutsche Oper Berlin 2007 - for the German AIDS Foundation
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
[7.49], Cruda Sorte [3.35] from L’Italiana in Algeri (1813), La calunnia è un venticello [4.43] from Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1816)
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Sempre libera
[3.42] from La Traviata (1853)
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Pourquoi me réveiller
[2.40] from Werther (1891)
Umberto GIORDANO (1867-1948)
Nemico della patria
[5.07], La mamma morta [5.39] from Andrea Chenier (1896)

Carl ORFF (1895-1982)
O Fortuna!, Fortuna plango vulnera [5.12] from Carmina Burana (1935-36)

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
O mio babbino caro
[1.58] from Gianni Schicchi (1918), Si. Mi chiamano Mimì [4.46] from La Boheme (1896)
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Una furtiva lagrima [4.16] from L’Elisir d’Amore (1832)
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)
Ah! Non credea mirarti... Ah! Non giunge
[7.52] from La Sonnambula (1831)
Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948)
Lippen schweigen
[2.51] from Die Lustige Witwe (1905), Freunde, das Leben ist lebenswert! [3.27] from Giuditta (1933), Dein ist mein ganzes Herz [3.55] from Das Land des Lächelns (1929)
Agnes Baltsa (mezzo); Franz Grundheber (bass-baritone); Angela Marambio (soprano); Krassimira Stoyanova (soprano); Marina Rebeka (soprano); Nino Machaidze (soprano); Matti Salminen (bass); Pavol Breslik (tenor); Piotr Beczala (tenor); Stefan Kocán (baritone)
Orchestra and Chorus from the Deutsche Oper Berlin/Lawrence Foster
Gala presented by Max Raabe
Directed by Georg Wübbolt and produced by Michael Dillmann
rec. live, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Berlin, Germany, 10 November 2007
Picture format: DVD 9/PAL/Colour/16.9
Sound format: PCM Stereo
Languages: German, English (menu only); no other languages, no subtitles
Booklet notes in German only
ARTHAUS 101455 [122.00]


Experience Classicsonline

This DVD is a recording of the 14th Opera Gala, at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, in support of the German AIDS Foundation, which took place in November 2007. As is customary for concerts of this kind, the programme offers a selection of popular pieces from opera and operetta, with a couple of choices that are a little more unusual for the average gala performance.

The DVD is predominantly in German, although the menu is in both German and English. One can choose to watch the whole gala or just the music, as well as a choice by chapter. If you are fluent in German, as there are no subtitles, then the full gala is interesting, as long as one skips the speeches, due to stylish, humorous presentations of the various pieces by German singer, comedian and presenter Max Raabe. Cleverly, he uses some of Loriot’s original texts, delivering them with almost as much flair as the great man himself who was actually in the audience. Loriot, whose real name is Bernhard Victor Christoph Carl von Bülow (short: Vicco von Bülow) was born in 1923 in Brandenburg an der Havel, near Berlin, in Germany. He is a humorist, graphic artist, director, actor and writer who became famous mostly for his cartoons, the sketches from his 1976 television series Loriot and his two movies: Ödipussi (1988) and Pappa ante portas (1991). The pseudonym "Loriot" is derived from the French word for the Oriole, a bird, which is his family's heraldic animal. His texts are genuinely funny, sometimes ironic; others even a little sarcastic but always witty and intelligently observed. If however, you do not speak German then I advise you to go for the music only option where you have the entire gala performance but without the speeches or the presentations. The musical pieces are clearly displayed on the screen and therefore you will still know the work and the composer’s name, as well as the singer.

The booklet accompanying the DVD lists the full programme and has interesting notes about all the performers, the history of the gala, the orchestra and chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin as well as the conductor and the presenter, however, again if you are not fluent in German, you will not be able to read it, as there are no translations.

The evening suitably opened with Rossini’s overture to L’Italiana in Algeri, one of his most popular and accomplished pieces, vibrantly delivered by the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper under the experienced baton of American-born conductor, Lawrence Foster. This is the first fine moment for the orchestra; the second comes at the opening of part 2 of the gala, together with the chorus of the Deutsche Oper, for an excellent rendition of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

Generally, the soloists deliver what they set out to do: an evening of good singing of some of the most popular pieces in opera and operetta for the benefit of a worthy organisation: the German AIDS Foundation. The performances, however, are not all of the same calibre and though there is some truly great singing, there are also some slightly disappointing moments, as for example Agnes Baltsa’s rendition of Puccini’s O mio babbino caro from the opera Gianni Schicchi. It was not quite obvious if the tempo was faster because she requested it or if the conductor just went ahead of her; either way the beautiful emotional line of the aria, its sentiment and lyrical legato were lost. Though Baltsa was back on top form with her second piece Cruda sorte, from Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri.

The gala is enjoyable throughout but there are some particularly wonderful performances, which deserve to be mentioned separately. First, Don Basilio’s, La calunnia è un venticello, from Act I of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, an aria for bass, perfectly delivered by Slovac baritone Stefan Kocán, though I think his voice cannot be described as a baritone. He sounds much more like a bass or at least a bass-baritone. Second, Pourquoi me réveiller from Massenet’s Werther, excellently performed by Polish tenor Piotr Beczala, clearly demonstrating why his interpretation of the title role was so successful and critically acclaimed both in Frankfurt and Munich. And finally, Si. Mi chiamano Mimi, from Act I of Puccini’s La Bohème, performed by the marvellous soprano Krassimira Stoyanova from Bulgaria. She sang the aria to perfection and deservedly drew the biggest applause of the evening.

Also worth mentioning are the appearances of two young artists: tenor Pavol Breslik and soprano Nino Machaidze. He is a promising young singer at ease with high notes, who does a pleasant rendition of Donizetti’s Una furtiva lagrima from Act II of L’Elisir D’Amore, though his legato technique is still a little unsure, at times weak, however, the level of sentiment and his easiness in controlling the beautiful crescendos effectively balanced his delivery. He seemed much more at home with Lippen schweigen from Lehár’s Die lustige Witwe; and not only his singing; he appeared more comfortable with German than Italian. Breslik should have been joined in this piece by soprano Anette Dasch who was indisposed and forced to cancel. This meant that the female voice was solely played by the violin in a lovely, tender rendition by the first violinist from the Deutsche Oper orchestra: Reinhold Wolf. As for Nino Machaidze, her performance of Amine’s aria in act II of Bellini’s La sonnambula is confident, well supported by a touching interpretation and good dramatic skills. Her coloratura is excellent though there is still room for improvement, as she sounds slightly strident in the highest register of her voice, but her attractive presence and her assured legato technique more than made up for the little shortcomings.

The finale to this very enjoyable gala is the ensemble piece Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from Lehár’s Das Land des Lächelns, one of the loveliest melodies ever created by the composer. Unfortunately, the piece does not completely succeed as it becomes obvious that some of the soloists that form the ensemble are not familiar with the work. However, the two tenors, Piotr Beczala and Pavol Breslik, literally shine, standing out from the rest in a piece that they both appear to know rather well. Although not fully accomplished, the finale is pleasant and suitable for the conclusion of such a gala concert. The public responded warmly and one is left with an uplifting, cheerful feeling.

Margarida Mota-Bull


Margarida Mota-Bull has written a novel set against the background of opera and structured within a musical frame, entitled "Canto di Tenore" see


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