Like most of his later operas, Richard Strauss' Arabella ends with a meltingly lovely duet. But then criticising Strauss for composing melodically enduring operas is as pointless as lambasting Vermeer for painting only exquisite interior scenes. Those who say Strauss never improved on Rosenkavalier may be right but when such beguiling sounds kept coming from his music for the next 30 years of his life, there shouldn't be any quibbles. Arabella is, in a nutshell, the story of a woman who cannot make up her mind about a suitor. Taped at the Metropolitan Opera House in... 1994 under the baton of conductor Christian Thielemann, this production features Kiri Te Kanawa in the title role; her acting is mediocre but vocally she never forces anything and at least sounds like the perfect Arabella. Wolfgang Brendel does well with Mandryka, who finally ends up with Arabella and Marie McLaughlin makes a sympathetic younger sister to the heroine as Zdenka. Otto Schenk's production is sturdily conservative, the video transfer is acceptable if unspectacular and the sound mix is CD-quality. --Kevin Filipski, Amazon.com [show more]
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