November 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Curio Corner

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD
Die tote Stadt Opera in three Acts  
(Recorded from the Opéra National du Rhin, 2001)
  Philharmonic Orchestra of Strasbourg conducted by Jan Latham Koenig; Chorus of the Opéra National du Rhin
  ARTHAUS DVD Video 100 342  Surround Sound    [145 mins]
Crotchet   Amazon UK

die tote stadt

Korngold had already composed four operas before he arrived in Hollywood in the 1930s.  The most successful was Die tote Stadt that was about a man who could not recover from the death of his adored angelic wife and how he meets another woman who resembles her closely but is totally different in character. The story has much in common with Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. Film references abound in this grotesque modern staging of an opera that is as melodic and powerfully dramatic as any composed by Puccini.  The production is weighed down with ridiculous, garish sets, costumes and effects (although there is no denying that sometimes they have a powerful fascination). Angela Denoke shines as Marietta/Marie despite everything that happens around her, and there is a memorable cameo from Stephan Benz as Fritz the Pierrot in one of the opera's great hit numbers. But Torsten Kerl cannot match René Kollo in voice (in the celebrated 1975 RCA audio recording) and his gross over-acting disappoints.

On our sister site MusicWeb, you can read a much more in-depth review of this DVD video release and it is compared with the recommended opulent premiere RCA audio recording made by Erich Leinsdorf, a more satisfying conventional production

If you must watch the DVD video just hire it from a library and buy the Leinsdorf  CD recording to treasure. 

Ian Lace

[Not rated]

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