The opera retains no more recipe

Photo: Daniel Koch
“Lohengrin”, an opera by Wagner in a beautiful production erudite and wonderfully sung: it opens the eyes and ears.

The DVD is no longer the privileged channel for the dissemination of the opera at home, but it is to ask what replaces it really.


According to the national Institute of statistics of Quebec, the sales of videograms have dropped nearly 50 % between 2012 and 2016, from more than 10 million to less than 6 million. The specific figures of the classical music, concerts, ballets and operas, which were unfortunately drowned in the categories “other” or “unknown” in both tables, but, in the opinion of distributors, they are so bad that the sample of an expensive product with sales potential of embryonic is a commodity now rare.


Also it is impossible to provide a balance sheet sense of the ” DVD of the year “, since the overall vision and a balanced market is become impossible. At a time when the public is repaît opera in the cinema or watching Mezzo and Classica on the cable channels, so here is the point on five operas on DVD that we have titillated by 2017.


I Puritani (Bellini)
Evelino Pidò. Teatro Real de Madrid, in 2016. Bel Air.

These Puritans, expressed in a kind of Nineteenth-century aesthetically gratifying by the stage director Emilio Sagi, provide solutions in the capture of an opera that the Met would do well to ponder. Oh, nothing revolutionary, simply a rhythm of cutting, which conforms to that of the music, a little wider, the diving rather than the cons-diving. Everything on the technical side, however, is not satisfactory, since the sound is too confined and dull. The rest is very happy, starting with the decor, so well informed, and to continue with the singing, the Elvira of Diana Damrau in the lead ! Not being a bellinien fanatic, I appreciate the frank manner of Evelino Pidò, and the stamp is a wonderful tenor Javier Camarena, who, however, is not a beast of a scene. Interesting DVD, but not ideal, due to its dry and a few singers, however excellent, but to their limitations, such as Nicolas Tested, in better shape usually.

Così fan tutte (Mozart)
Philippe Jordan. Paris opera, 2017. Arthaus.

It was in February last year, live in Paris in the cinemas, and a reason for national pride, since of the six singers of Mozart’s Così fan tutte on the stage of the opera Garnier in Paris, three were in quebec, Michèle Losier, Frédéric Antoun and Philippe Sly. The spectacle : a vision of a priori disconcerting of the choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker in which the singers are doubled by dancers who express their deep thoughts and illustrate the music, creating a third reading grid, in addition to the text and the score. To do this, the stage is bare, stripped of any decor and accessory, but we quickly realized that we rarely “watched” the music of Mozart, his energy, with so much attention and acuity. The Così fan tutte absolute DVD remains one of Michael Haneke in Madrid, but it offers another vision exciting.

Norma (Bellini)
Antonio Pappano. Covent Garden, 2016. Opus Arte.

Commotion in London when the star Anna Netrebko announced that she was prepared to sing not the Norma rise to it in the opening of season 2016-2017. That’s not a problem, we now have the Norma of the great Sonya Yoncheva, and we’re so happy. This new Norma on DVD, we adopt as early as the first minute of the opening, whipped up by Antonio Pappano. From the sound point of view, it is the opposite of the Puritans Madrid : everything is wide, like the scene and the scenery and like the song, with Joseph Calleja magnificent in Pollione. Still the idea of the Romans in suit and tie, stigma of a transposition stage quite lazy in a totalitarian regime of the Twentieth century that would be exercised in a forest… no One can definitely not have it all !

Lohengrin (Wagner)
Christian Thielemann. Opera in Dresden, 2016. DG.

An opera of Wagner in a beautiful production erudite and wonderfully sung : it opens the eyes and ears. Here, in 2016, the resumption of a show staged in 1983, while Dresden state on the other side of the Wall. It will reassure all those who have fed up of seeing nonsense stage in the name of modernity. This Lohengrin is already a legend for its distribution : Piotr Beczala in Lohengrin, Anna Netrebko as Elsa, Elvelyn Herlitzius as Ortrud, Tomasz Konieczny as Telramund, and Georg Zeppenfeld as Heinrich. This was to be the entry door for Netrebko in Wagner : it has suspended its plans for the future, certainly not for problems of voice (the language, however, seems to bother). In the Face of the Lohengrin sleek aesthetic of Lehnoff and Nagano (Klaus Florian Vogt) and the more contemporary and provocative of Richard Jones, also with Kent Nagano (and Jonas Kaufmann), here is a traditional choice exciting.

Lulu (Berg)
Kirill Petrenko. The Munich opera, 2015. Bel Air.

The opera Lulu by Alban Berg is rewarding in the DVD, because the artists who rub can only do half, both from the point of view of the singers, as well as heads and directors. So we have already been on DVD a number of propositions. It is sure that with the hellion Dmitri Tcherniakov (see his disturbing Don Giovanni in Aix or her scandalous Dialogue des carmélites in Munich), there are no half-measures. Instead of the debauchery, Tcherniakov has chosen a maze, the decor cold and naked, frames, walls. A work centered on the players, no doubt magnified on the screen relative to the room, to know by those who have acceded to the Così fan tutte in Paris. Fabulous direction by Kirill Petrenko, and as a remarkable incarnation of Marlis Petersen as Lulu and Bo Skovhus in Schön.