I happen to just love Die Tote Stadt, the story is simple yet powerful and the music alone makes Die Tote Stadt one of Korngold's finest(and this is coming from someone who loves his Adventures of Robin Hood score to death). And this is an unforgettable production, on its own terms it is a simply brilliant performance, but seeing as Die Tote Stadt I don't think has got enough of the recognition it deserves it is important also. The production values are very striking, with a Expressionist-like first act and an authentic slightly-flooding approach to the second act. I loved the contrasts in the costumes as well, the ones in Paul's fantasy are much more opulent, emphasising perhaps the difference between reality(where it's all very drab) and idealism(much more colourful). The video directing is incredibly cinematic, making it even more interesting to watch, and the picture and sound quality are very good. I too wish there were English subtitles(especially for those new to the opera like my parents), but everything is so good here that I was still satisfied. The stage direction is always compelling, with Gotz Friederich's gift of giving depth to characters and his work with the singers coming through. The orchestral playing is sweeping and powerful in quality, and the conducting never too rushed or plodding. The singers are occasionally drowned out, but this is just occasionally and in fairness I have come across this many times in opera and almost all of them worse than this case. Regardless of that the singing is just amazing. James King is the best I've seen him, and I do love his Florestan in the 1970 Fidelio. His voice is still huge and in good shape, and his acting is very subtle and moving. Karan Armstrong's dual role as Marie and Marietta is a difficult one, not just because of the vocal and technical demands but also the two roles are completely different to one another. She is suitably outworldly as Marie, and her sensual figure is perfect for the more playful role of Marietta. Margit Neubauer is a loyal Brigitta, and William Murray with his sonorous voice splendidly makes the most of the other dual role of Die Tote Stadt, that of Frank and Pierrot. The ending has been altered for a more pessimistic one. This may cause some controversy and may make one wonder what point it was trying to make, but for me the pessimistic ending worked, as it did fit with Paul's torment and with his extreme obsession for his dead wife. In a nutshell, simply amazing, more than a must watch, a requirement is more like it. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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