FRANCO CORELLI 1971 TOKYO CONCERT
ALFREDO KRAUS 1996 TOKYO RECITAL
Several years ago, Dynamic issued separate DVDs of Tokyo concerts by Franco Corelli and Alfredo Krauss. Now they are reissued as a "doubler" —two for the price of one. The Buy Now tags above are for the twin release.
Franco Corelli was 50 when he gave this Tokyo recital in 1971, at the height of his remarkable career. He gave the adoring Japanese audience what they wanted—a group of arias that showed off his unique vocal qualities. This DVD contains only his performances; doubtless there were orchestral interludes but there was little reason to include them. The program is one hour. NHK's video disappoints; images often aren't very sharp, but audio is satisfactory. No subtitles except those embedded on the picture in Japanese. Admirers of Corelli surely will wish to own this.
Alfredo Krauss was 69 in 1996 when this Tokyo recital was taped by NHK Television, he had been singing for four decades and was held in highest esteem by the operatic world as a tenor of taste and refinement. His admirers might wish to have this memento of him, but his vocal glories of the past are not to be heard here, unfortunately. The audience loved him. No subtitles except in Japanese, even for the brief interview. Playing time is well under one hour. Video is superb, audio just fine.
Acclaimed French stage director Nicolas Joel was named director of the Paris Opera beginning in 2009, and the first opera he wanted to present was Gounod's Mireille, a work for which he has a particular affection. It attracted more than a million viewers when shown on TV. Mireille was eighth of the composer's thirteen operas, written in 1864 to a French libretto by Frédéric Mistral's poem Mireio, a story taking place in Provence in the 19th century. It is a simple but beautiful country scene with a simple plot. The young girl Mireille wants to marry for love not money and is in love with the poor basket-weaver Vincent. After five rather uneventful acts, she dies from exhaustion in his arms and is called to heaven by a celestial voice, reminiscent of the fate of Marguerite in Faust written five years early— but not as effective. There's much very lovely music in this opera but it does go on—and on—for 2 1/2 hours. There are a few arias, particularly Mireille's Waltz Song, but there is good reason why this opera isn't presented very often. Joel should be commended for his taste, refinement and respect for composers and their operas and not subcomming to the unfortunate trend in many opera houses (including the Met) to hire designers and directors who do not. This lovely realistic production, . designed by Ezio Frigerio, is a beauty with its lovely scenic effects and costumes that doubtless would have delighted Gounod. Surely the Paris Opera did what can be done for Mireille; the cast is uniformly superb, video and audio could not be bettered; this is the definitive performance on DVD of this opera and doubtless will remain so. A 27-minute bonus offers Nicolas Joel, conductor Marc Minkowski and Christophe Ghristi discussing the opera. However, for most viewers, this is a rather dull night at the opera.
R.E.B. (May 2012)