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Menotti: Der Consul / Bauer-Theussl, Muszely, Ferenz, Fischer, Welitsch, Waechter

Menotti / Muszely / Ferenz / Orch Of Weiner
Release Date: 10/26/2010 
Label:  Arthaus Musik   Catalog #: 101525  
Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
Performer:  Alois PernerstorferEva PilzHilde KonetzniRes Fischer,   ... 
Conductor:  Franz Bauer-Theussl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Volksoper Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Gian Carlo Menotti
DER KONSUL (The Consul)
(Sung in German)

John Sorel – Eberhard Waechter
Magda Sorel – Melitta Muszely
Mutter – Res Fischer
Polizeiagent – Willy Ferenz
Sekretärin – Gloria Lane
Kofner – Friedrich Nidetzky
Italienerin – Ljuba Welitsch
Anna Gomez – Laurence Dutoit
Vera Boronel – Hilde Konetzni Zauberer – László Szemere
Assan – Alois Pernerstorfer
Sängerin – Eva Pilz

Vienna Volksoper Orchestra
Franz Bauer-Theussl, conductor

Rudolph Cartier, director
Robert Posik, set designer
Edith Almoslino, costume designer

Historical studio production,
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Gian Carlo Menotti was one of the most important 20th-century composers of opera working in the United States. For his opera The Consul he won the Pulitzer Prize for Music and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. This unique studio recording from the early years of television is performed by an extraordinary cast featuring Melitta Muszely, Eberhard Waechter, Res Fischer and Hilde Konetzni. The plot of the politically charged drama takes place in Europe of the 1950s. The Orchestra of the Wiener Volksoper is conducted by Franz Bauer-Theussl. An important document of operatic and film history, this restored recording is available on DVD for the first time.

- Interview with Gian Carlo Menotti.

Picture format: NTSC 4:3 B/W
Sound format: PCM Mono
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Italian
Running time: 99 mins (opera) + 4 mins (bonus)
No. of DVDs: 1

R E V I E W:


MENOTTI The Consul Franz Bauer-Theussl, cond; Melitta Muszely ( Magda Sorel ); Eberhard Wächter ( John Sorel ); Res Fischer ( Mother ); Gloria Lane ( Secretary ); Willy Ferenz ( Secret Police Agent ); Friedrich Nidetzky ( Kofner ); Ljuba Welitsch ( Italian Woman ); Hilde Konetzni ( Vera Boronel ); László Szemere ( Magician ); Alois Pernerstorfer ( Assan ); Eva Pilz ( Singer ); Vienna Volksoper O ARTHAUS MUSIK 101525, mono (DVD: 99:00 Text and Translation)

& Interview with Gian Carlo Menotti (4:00)

MENOTTI The Old Maid and the Thief. 1 The Medium 2 1 Wolfgang Rennert, 2 Armando Aliberti, cond; Otto Schenk, dir; Elisabeth Höngen ( Miss Todd, Madame Flora ); 1 Olive Moorefield ( Laetitia ); 1 Eberhard Wächter ( Bob ); Hilde Konetzni ( Miss Pinkerton, Mrs. Nolan ); 2 Maria José de Vine ( Monika ); Norman Foster ( Mr. Gobineau ); Vienna Volksoper O ARTHAUS MUSIK 101 515, mono (DVD: 127:00 Text and Translation)

Receiving these from Fanfare turned into a huge surprise. My first reaction on seeing them was something along the lines of “Who needs Menotti operas in German?” However, I dutifully put them in the DVD player, and was totally hooked.

These are co-productions of the Austrian Radio and, in the case of The Consul , the SDR (South German Radio, now part of SWR), and in the case of the other two, the Bavarian Radio. The Old Maid and the Thief dates from 1961, The Consul from 1963, and The Medium from 1964. As a bonus on the two discs there are interviews with Menotti (with The Consul ) and director Otto Schenck (with the others). These are rather simplistic Austrian radio interviews that do not offer much insight.

But the productions are, in a word, phenomenal. Menotti has rarely received such luxury casting—look at the names! Who would ever have expected to hear a young Eberhard Wächter in these works? Every singer is perfectly cast, thoroughly into his or her role, and directed with extraordinary effectiveness for the television screen. It is important to note that these were not staged performances filmed for TV. They were created with the television medium in mind, and the works are perfect for that medium.

If you are at all a fan of Menotti’s operas, you must see these. Despite the German language (of course, English titles are provided), they are extraordinarily powerful renditions of all three works. Even Menotti’s comic opera The Old Maid and the Thief has its dark undertones, all of which are brought to the surface by Schenck. The camerawork is excellent, the restored video quality is fine (they are black and white), and the monaural sound is fine.

Highlight performances include both of Wächter’s, Gloria Lane’s infuriating Secretary in the Consul’s office (I wanted to slap her because of the vividness of her portrayal of the unfeeling bureaucrat), Maria José de Vine’s gorgeously sung and touching Monika, and all of the roles taken by Hilde Konetzni and Elisabeth Höngen. Norman Foster (remember him from Horenstein’s Vox Mahler songs?) sings and acts wonderfully as Mr. Gobineau, and an astonishing portrayal of an old Italian lady in The Consul is turned in by none other than Ljuba Welitsch.

It is time for a serious reevaluation of Gian Carlo Menotti, and perhaps these European performances, where the music and the drama were taken seriously by some of the most important operatic artists of the 1960s, will help. Menotti may not have carved new ground in his work, but that is not always essential (just look at Mendelssohn for an example of an important composer who created no new paths). His music is high in inspiration, his sense of theatrical pacing is superb, his orchestrations colorful, and he wrote in a very gratifying way for the voice. It would be hard to imagine any opera lover watching these videos and not coming away deeply moved.

There are excellent notes about the productions and the operas—in short, Arthaus Musik has done itself proud. Consider this a very enthusiastic recommendation.

FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

The Consul by Gian Carlo Menotti
Performer:  Alois Pernerstorfer (Bass Baritone), Eva Pilz (Voice), Hilde Konetzni (Soprano),
Res Fischer (Mezzo Soprano), Willy Ferenz (Baritone), Franz Waechter (Baritone),
Melitta Muszely (Soprano), Gloria Lane (Mezzo Soprano), Friedrich Nidetzky (Voice),
László Szemere (Tenor)
Conductor:  Franz Bauer-Theussl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Volksoper Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 
Language: German 

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