Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin -- film version/Solti DVD|
It's a common complaint that opera singers can't act, and actors can't sing opera. In this handsome 1988 film of Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin, director Petr Weigl attempts to solve the problem by letting each group of performers do what they do best. Thus the music is a studio recording with some great voices in the principal roles, and the film is a lip-synched performance shot in stunning locations by a good-looking cast of players. On the positive side this means that the whole thing looks gorgeous, and sun-drenched dachas, glittering ballrooms and snowy steppes are all captured with painterly verve. The musical performances are also splendid, with Bernd Weikl making a passionate, tortured Onegin, Teresa Kubiak a honeyed, fresh-sounding Tatyana, and Solti conducting with driven intensity. But realism and opera rarely make happy bed-fellows, and the down-side of this film is that the naturalistic "speaking-style" lip-synching and understated acting are entirely at odds with the grand musical gestures, and occasionally give rise to a somewhat absurd alienation effect. Thus while Kubiak's voice is at full blast, Magdalena Vasaryova looks like she's making polite chit-chat at a cocktail party. But the project feels like a brave experiment, nonetheless, and if the whole isn't quite the sum of its different elements, those elements are still jolly good. On the DVD: Eugene Onegin on disc has excellent picture quality (which is fortunate in such a visually exquisite film), though the sound is a little distant and muffled. The film starts with the entry of the peasants in Act 1, but the DVD includes the Prologue and music before this point as an audio bonus. There are subtitles in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Chinese, and a series of trailers for other Decca DVDs. --Warwick Thompsonfrom£14.78 | RRP:
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Tchaikovsky's opera, based on the poem by Pushkin, is performed at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, with Kubiak, Weikl, Burrows, Hamari, Ghiaurov, Senechal and the Orchestra of The Royal Opera House.
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