David McVicar’s powerful 2008 production of Strauss's opera – based on a play by Oscar Wilde – takes the controversial and disturbing film 120 Days of Sodom as its visual reference. The action is set in a debauched palace, which has suggestions of Nazi Germany. Strauss’s ravishing and voluptuous score adds to the sexual alchemy that is conjured by an international cast led by Nadja Michael in the title role. Salome is filmed for the big screen with High Definition cameras and recorded in true surround sound.
Götz Friedrich’s 1981 Elektra film sets Richard Strauss’ opera in a dark and dingy abandoned 20th-century factory populated by grungy denizens in psuedo-Greek garb. Elektra herself appears like some deranged homeless woman reeking with sweat and slime (in the rain). And the depravity doesn’t stop there. Friedrich plays up the work’s sado-masochistic elements, with bloody whippings and an orgy sequence involving nude lesbians bathing themselves in the blood of a sacrificial ram. Now you might think that all of this detracts from the score, but on the contrary, the production matches image to music so brilliantly that anyone seeing this opera for the first time would think they were created for each other (which allows you to ignore the occasional useless, almost silly gesture, such as the frequent and prolonged shots of Agamemnon’s bloodied visage during Elektra’s opening monologue).
Filmed live in Baden-Baden by the veteran director Brian Large, Renée Fleming makes her debut in the role of Ariadne together with fellow key Strauss interpreters Sophie Koch and Christian Thielemann, following on from their Rosenkavalier triumph. Thielemann conducts the Staatskapelle Dresden, the orchestra to whom Strauss dedicated his Alpine Symphony and which premiered Feuersnot, Salome, Elektra, Der Rosenkavalier and Daphne. Fleming's voice might have been made for Ariadne and she achieved a great personal triumph in this production: “The chief glory of the evening was hearing Renée Fleming, the Straussian soprano par excellence, making her role debut as Ariadne… As the possessor of what is, possibly, the most beautiful soprano voice in the world, she put her vocal treasures in the service of an empathic, nuanced interpretation of the role. From the creamy top, through a rich, warm middle, to the bewitching, darker colours of her lower register, Fleming poured her magnificent sound into Strauss’s enchanting melodic arcs, animating the sadness, vulnerability, and desire of the bereft princess…” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The epic grandeur of Der Rosenkavalier stems not just from its immense length (over three hours) but from the all-too-human complexity of its characters–each of whom is smitten with someone else–and the endless stream of graceful melodies the composer conjures. After the tonality-stretching dissonance of Salome and especially Elektra, Strauss moved onto a different musical path here: the music's sheer gorgeousness has given this most heartbreaking of 20th-century operas its pride of place in the repertory.
Teresa Stratas has been called the world's greatest living singing actress, and she is seen and heard at the peak of her powers in the title role of director Götz Friedrich's spine-chilling version of Salome. on of the most highly acclaimed opera films ever made - with Strauss's score in the expert hands of his protégé Karl Böhm, conducting the Vienna Philharmonic.
Under the conducting of Herbert Von Karajan, the Vienna State Opera Ballet, the State Opera Chorus, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the famous singers Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Otto Edelmann, all combine to give a colourful and inspiring performance of Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. The story is set in the Royal Court of Vienna, where the Princess is being wooed by Octavian, a handsome young cavalier, despite her married state. Complications arise when Octavian falls in love with her younger sister, Sophie, whom another is trying to win. Set to a rousing musical score, this opera is a classic love story.
The creation of Daphne was not a simple affair, especially for what concerned the poetic text (due to the modest talent of the librettist Joseph Gregor), but on 15th October 1938 the opera was finally premièred at Dresden’s Staatstheater. On the podium was the young conductor Karl Böhm. Daphne is a masterpiece of early 20th-century vocal music. Structured in a single act, this opera is a solid work with a rich musical vein. Strauss’s orchestration appears, as always, remarkably refined. The vocal writing is demanding for all the main characters, but especially so for the protagonist, here interpreted by a magnificent June Anderson. Filmed in high definition at Venice’s La Fenice, the present production is directed by Paul Curran.
This DVD of Ariadne is a 1978 film based on Filippo Sanjust’s Vienna State Opera production. The bustling Prologue is set in the backstage area of the mogul’s palace and the 18th century costumes fit neatly. In the opera proper, the stage is transformed into a very stagey desert island with an improbable set of stairs leading to the heroine’s cave, the action spilling over into the theatre’s side boxes at times. While there’s nothing particularly imaginative about the production, it never distracts from the main event–the music. Strauss was profligate in his melodic gifts, his ability to make a reduced orchestra sound big, and his wonderful obsession with the female voice, which yields many glorious moments in the opera. Lavish casting helps.
The leading Strauss soprano of our time, Renée Fleming stars in one of her most acclaimed stage roles, the countess in Richard Strauss's Capriccio. This sumptuous production was specially mounted for Ms. Fleming by the Met, and Decca is proud to present it on DVD.
When the curtain fell at the Paris Opera premiere of Capriccio, the audiences rose to long and frenetic ovations. They unanimously applauded each singer in a cast of stars, but Renée Fleming was undoubtedly the leading light of this remarkable production. Every one of the performers in this production is outstanding and can be regarded as the best possible singer for the role - Opera fans from all over the world came to Paris to see this production. This Capriccio also served as a role debut for American star soprano Renée Fleming who took on the role of the Gräfin. The critics celebrated her performance as “ideal” in all aspects: musically, dramatically and above all vocally and she was cheered frenetically by the audience at the Palais Garnier of the Opéra National de Paris.