Amazing performance of one of the best operas of the 20th century
The Hamburg State Cult Operas DVD set promised a number of gems, and sure delivered them. Even my least favourite Orpheus in the Underworld was excellent. Die Teufel Von Loudun didn't disappoint for a single second. The opera by Penderecki I was not familiar with until a short time ago, and now I consider it one of the best of the 20th century in a list that includes Wozzeck, Lulu, Die Tote Stadt and The Rake's Progress. And this is a most amazing TV production of it, with little I have to criticise. I loved the dark landscapes, you really feel the sorrow and despair that the story and music convey so magnificently, and the demonstrative close ups don't undermine this atmosphere in any way. Some of the effects and hairstyles may seem on the corny side now, but considering the times also acceptable. The orchestral playing is very rich in sound, making the music terrifying and poignant in equal measures, while the conducting is very commanding indeed.
The staging and dramatic elements is appropriately oppressive and often frightening, when done right that is what is so intriguing about Die Teufel Von Loudun in the first place, while the lip-synching is remarkably good and the sound is at least clear. The performances are just wonderful. The late Tatiana Troyanos, responsible for so many great performances and I think having even more to give before her untimely passing, is the embodiment of Jeanne. She sings with her usual velvety richness(even with a hump that could easily constrict things), and dramatically she is just fearless, throwing herself about while showing integrity as well. In short it is a thrilling performance, one of her best. Standing out also is Heinz Blankenburg, whose doctor is incredibly creepy. Hans Sotin towards the start of his career is superb, his voice sonorous and his acting exuding command. Andrzej Hoilski's Grandier shows a strong voice, and he convinces as a victim of torture if perhaps not as lustful as one would want. Ursula Boese and Kurt Marschner are typically characterful as well.
All in all, amazing performance. If you are seeking this opera and a performance or recording to see what the fuss is about, look no further than this. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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