While not my favourite of Strauss' operas, it is a very elegant and charming opera with Strauss' music typically outstanding. Both this Glyndebourne production and the Met production with Kiri TeKanawa and Wolfgang Brendal are must sees. The stage is small, but the set designs are still delightful particularly the ballroom setting in Act 2 which is spacious and full of depth. The costumes are colourful and just splendid. The technical values of the DVD also satisfy, though the lack of any synopsises and stuff is disappointing. The orchestral playing is sensitive, transparent and full of lushness, and Bernard Haitink's conducting is subtle and authoritative.
Although they bring so much to the soaring, complex orchestration throughout the production, their crowning glory is the Act 3 Prelude, which left me speechless. The singing is wonderful, starting with Ashley Putnam who is a stylish and graceful Arabella, singing with beautiful, silvery tone. She has a great support cast, with the Zdenka of Gianna Rolandi almost stealing the show in Act 1, her light-bright singing perfect for the role. She and Putnam's Act 1 duet is magnificent. My only reservation was that Putnam is very tall and imposing and Rolandi is the opposite, making it not quite as believable when they "switch places".
John Brocheler is vocally firm and dramatically fiery if occasionally a tad too stiff as the boorish character of Mandryka. Keith Lewis portrays Matteo beautifully, while Gwendolyn Bradley is wonderfully coquettish as Fiakermilli, the cameo colouratura role. As the parents, Regina Sarfaty is a flirtatious and characterful Adelaide, and Arthur Korn is a dignified and conflicted father figure(Count Waldner). Overall, a wonderful production, with next to faultless singing, Haitink directing with a sure hand and first-rate production and musical-values. Strauss fans should get this, the Met production or both.
9.5/10 Bethany Cox
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