Saturday, 4 October 2008

DVD: Tannhäuser in Zurich - a nightmare

Tannhäuser. Zurich Opera House 2003. Director: Jens-Daniel Herzog. Cast: Peter Seiffert (Tannhäuser), Roman Trekel (Wolfram), Solveig Kringelborn (Elisabeth), Isabelle Kabatu (Venus), Walther (Jonas Kaufmann), Alfred Muff (Hermann). Conductor: Franz Welser-Möst. Further information here.

In brief, I find this production virtually unbearable to watch, reflected in the extraordinarily low overall rating below.

First of all, the camera work is quite easily the worst I have yet encountered in opera, jumping back- and forwards between backstage shots of the characters in their dressing rooms (even in the middle of the opera), overhead shots of the pit, close-ups of the sweating Peter Seiffert (whom we also see putting on his final costume during the ouverture before he heads downstairs) and Franz Welser-Mösts wedding ring, shots from the stage aiming at performers waiting backstage etc etc. Furthermore, fans of Jonas Kaufmann, beware: During his only aria we do not see him at all, as the camera only focuses on the faces of Tannhäuser and Elisabeth. Extremely annoying..

This moving back and forth between pre-production and performance shots, takes away a significant part of the potential pleasure of the staging, which I cannot even describe properly due to the odd camera angles. The sets are simple, the stage is bare, but aesthetic it is not. I simply cannot imagine that, visually, this DVD will appeal to anyone.

Musically things are rather better, though not exceptional. Solveig Kringelborn does make a rather fine Elisabeth (though I personally find her irritating), not entirely matched by Isabelle Kabatu as Venus. Fine performance from Roman Trekel (slightly neurotic) and Peter Seiffert (equally boring). Franz Welser-Möst is more than competent though not overly imaginative.

The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):

Peter Seiffert: 3
Solveig Kringelborn: 3
Roman Trekel: 3
Isabelle Kabatu: 2

Franz Welser-Möst: 4

Jens-Daniel Herzog: 2

Overall impression: 1

7 comments:

Adina said...

"In brief, I find this production virtually unbearable to watch"

Absolutely right!!!

Gonzalo Tello said...

i rated this DVD after it was released, and i noted that the stupid tv direction was from Cloe Perlemuter. In that time, Jonas Kauffman was not famous yet. After reviewing the cast and seeing his name, y watched again the act two scene, finding that during his whole aria he was not at all (!!!) , instead, watching for more than 3 minutes non stop (something inthinkable for professionals in tv) the face of a sweaty Seiffert, that is unbereable y disgusting to watch. I think theres another DVD available, directed for this opera criminal, CLOE PERLEMUTER. i think is a Rosenkavalier from Zurich too.

So , as this post says: Beware, and just in case, watch the name of the tv director, because sometimes, like in this case, is very important to consider.

Adina said...

As an admirer of Jonas Kaufmann it makes me mad to see that many commercial blogs are currently advertising this DVD with his name and the text “if you like watching Seiffert and Kaufmann” or something like this. There is virtually nothing of Kaufmann to watch except of a short glimpse before he starts to sing (singing is fine). And it happens not only in this scene that the TV direction shows Seiffert, who is really not easy to watch all the time, instead of the other singers. I posted a comment in one of those commercial blogs but I doubt that it will appear. Fortunately I never bought this DVD, I only have it from TV.

mostly opera... said...

I hadn´t even seen these advertisements. I completely agree, of course: The only place Jonas Kaufmann appears on this DVD (apart from the 1 second glimpse you mention) is on the cast list. Must have been seriously irritating for him to be cut out like that...

Adina said...

Would be fun to ask him :-).

I checked again and found a blog which doesn't seem to advertise but offers free watching though I wouldn't click on the button for the download. I'm almost sure that it is a link to some other stuff. I now remember that I also saw sites like this offering "Nina" with Bartoli and Jonas for free watching as well.

Anyway the text on the site is quite "funny" to say the least. The person who wrote this text never watched the video but is using Jonas name to get more hits:
"Jonas Kaufmann and Peter Seiffert are a good team in this movie and are some of my favorite actors! Jonas Kaufmann & Peter Seiffert must have really loved making this film."
You may find the site by searching for the text in Google. I wouldn't post the link here.

mostly opera... said...

Adina - I just took a look at the site you "mentioned". It looks like the sort of site with approximately 5 readers per day..

lou said...

Seiffert's performance is one of the best I've seen it many a year...I have watched it many times and never tire of it...on the contrary it get better and better with each viewing.

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