Operetta in Three Acts sung in English.
Recorded at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden,
New Year's Eve 1990 on the occasion of
Joan Sutherland's farewell performance.
Conducted by Richard Bonynge
ARTHAUS DVD 100 134
2 DVDs [197 mins]
Cast in order of appearance -
Gabriel von Eisenstein
...... Louis Otey
Colonel Frank (Prison Governor) ....Eric Garrett
... Jochen Kowalski
Ivan (Servant to Orlofsky)
. Peter Archer
Frosch (The Jailer)
With special appearances by:
Joan Sutherland; Luciano Pavarotti and Marilyn Horne
The Royal Opera Chorus;
The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
What a glittering occasion this was - a gala performance of Johann Strauss's
ever-popular operetta enhanced by Act II guest appearances by Joan Sutherland
who made this special evening the occasion of her farewell performance, with
Luciano Pavarotti and Marilyn Horne. The setting was John Cox's lavish 1977
production with sumptuous costumes and beautifully detailed, colourful sets
- a triumph of stage management. The DVD presentation is one of the very
best that ARTHAUS has presented so far, the colour photography is first class
as is the sound with crisp picture definition and impressive yet unobtrusive
camera work, revealing all the spectacle as well as closing in on intimate
The cast is well-nigh lawless, all relishing Strauss's generous supply of
lovely melodies for this frothy tale of an upwardly mobile society keen to
cheat and take on different personas to enjoy Prince Orlofsky's party. Nancy
Gustafson is ideal as the knowing Rosalinde, bent on teaching her errant
husband, Gabriel von Eisenstein (Louis Otey) a lesson as she attends the
party masked and disguised as a Hungarian countess. Among the arias that
gained her rapturous applause was her Act II rendition of the 'Czardas'.
Judith Howarth is cheekily coquettish as Rosalinde's maid, Adele, who goes
to Orlofsky's party in her mistress's finery, keen to find a rich sponsor
to back her projected stage career. Her spellbinding coloratura Act II aria
in which she admonishes Eisenstein for thinking she is just a maid again
brought huge applause. Anthony Michaels-More makes a sardonic yet human Dr
Falke whose quest for revenge because an Eisenstein prank had made him look
a fool in front of his legal peers, is the cause of Orlofsky's party. His
meltingly beautiful 'Brother mine, brother mine and sister mine' in which
he encourages all the on-stage party couples to embrace, was another highlight.
Proud Orlofsky is sung by the fine counter-tenor Jochen Kowalski enjoying
himself tremendously as he encourages everybody to drink up. Bonaventura
Bottone makes Alfredo a charming clown and Eric Garrett's Colonel Frank,
the pompous and foolish prison governor, is another piece of perfect casting.
Space forbids me mentioning the many highlights like the sublime Act III
Trio between Alfredo, Eisenstein and Rosalinde when they all try to untangle
the web of deception.
Act II is enhanced with the entrance of the guests. Pavorotti sings Federico's
lament from Cilea's L'Arlesiana. Sutherland and Horne then sing
Semiramide and Arsace's duet from Rossini's Semiramide. Marilyn
Horne sings 'Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix' from Saint-Saën's
Samson et Dalila. Next there is Alfredo and Violetta's duet from Verdi's
La Traviata sung by Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti.
In conclusion, Joan Sutherland sings, appropriately for Covent Garden, where
she trained from 1952 and leapt to fame as Lucia in 1959, Henry Bishop's
"Home, sweet home".
As if this was not enough, Act II also has a brilliant ballet performance
by Viviana Durante and Stuart Cassidy. Then, in Act III, we have a comic
performance by John Sessions as the jailer, Frosch, poking fun at the current
political and arts scene. John Major, then Prime Minister, was in the audience.
The evening was rounded off with an on-stage tribute to Joan Sutherland by
A magical souvenir of a sparkling evening. A splendid, sumptuous performance
of Johann Strauss's evergreen operetta, with so many memorable, extra treats.
Don't miss this one!