CILEA: Adriana Lecouvreur
Angela Gheorghiu (Adriana Lecouvreur). Jonas Kaufmann (Maurizio). Olga Borodina (Princess de Bouillon). Alessandro Corbelli (Michonnet). Ian Paton (Poisson). David Soar (Quinault). Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House/Mark Elder, cond.
DECCA DVD VIDEO B0016696 TT: 150 min. + 23 min. bonus

Al Di Meola, Larry Coryell and Bireliu Lagrene, with Chris Carrington (guitar), Arto Tunchbotyaci and Gumbi Ortiz (percussion)

WAGNER: Parsifal
Poul Elming (Parsifal). Falk Struckmann (Amfortas). John Tomlinson (Gurnemanz). Wal;traud Meier (Kundry). Gunter von Kannen (Klingsor). Fritz Hüybner (Titurel). Deutschen Staatsoper Chorus; Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim, cond.
EUROARTS DVD VIDEO 2066738 TT: 243 min.

Adriana Lecouvreur contain two show-stopping arias for the heroine as well as opportunities for vocal display by all four principals. The plot is rather absurd. Two women, the temperamental actress Adriana Lecouvreur and the regal Princess of Bouillon are in love with the soldier Maurizio, who at one time was in love with the Princess but now prefers Adriana. The rather simple minded elderly Michonnet is secretly in love with Adriana and stands by her in spite of her delusions. The Princess kills her rival by sending her a bunch of poisoned violets which gives her the luxury of an extended death scene in the arms of her lover, just what prima donnas cherish. Much of the music is gorgeous, but the opera seems not to appear on opera stages unless an influential diva wants to star in it. The premiere took place in Milan in 1906 with Angelica Pandolfini, leading verismo soprano of the time, in the title role, with a golden cast that also included Enrico Caruso and Giuseppe Di Luca. The Met presented it three times in 1907/08, but it was neglected until 1963 when it was revived for Renata Tebaldi who sang the ill-fated diva in than 30 performances. In 1978, there were a dozen performances with Renata Scotto (available on DVD, as well as Montserrat Caballé who sang 7 performances that year. The Royal Opera House hadn't given Adriana for a century; this revival was for Angela Gheorghiu who impresses as the opera star heroine. And the supporting cast is outstanding. Jonas Kaufmann is perfect as Maurizio, Olga Borodina a conniving Princess, and Alessandre Corbslli's Michonnett could not be bettered. David McVicar's direction, Charles Edwards' simple sets and Brigitte Reiffenstuel's costumes are excellent. This is a superb production in every way with the camera almost always in the right place, excellent audio, and plenty of tracks for easy access. The bonus features interviews with singers and production staff.

This jazz-rock program was taped May 24, 1990 at Nightstage in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Playing of the trio justifies their being called "The Super Guitar Trio," and in two selections they are joined by another guitarist and two percussionists in music by Coryell, Di Meaola, Piazolla, Rodrigo and Chick Corea. It is an exciting concert in every way, with modest video that often focuses on the instruments, audio that is satisfactory although hardly "surround." It you are a fan of this kind of music you'll not find it better presented elsewherre.It seems odd that playing time is only an hour—surely more music was presented at the concert—but the price is fairly modest.

This Parsifal dates from 1992, with Daniel Barenboim who had been appointed artistic director ofg the Berlin State Opera, a position he still has as "conductor for life." For this production, German stage director Harry Kupfer provided an imaginative and not too radical (for the time) visual experience, that today would not offend anyone although some might object to seeing the flower maidens on scattered TV screens. Still, compared with many modern Wagnerian directorial atrocit6iew, Kupfer's ideas are inoffensive. Lighting is terrific, and the huge on-stage blocks, walls and patterns move with nobility and effect (and no cranking sounds as heard in the new Met Ring). Musically, this performance could hardly be bettered. The entire cast is outstanding,particularly Waltraud Meier's Kundry, and Daniel Barenboim's Wagner is powerful—he has recorded all of the composer's operas, some more than once. Video is remarkably clear, and the stereo sound well-balanced, full and satisfying.

R.E.B. (May 2012)