Rimsky-Korsakov - The Legend of The Invisible City of Kitezh (2011) [DVD9 NTSC]
Actors: Kazakov, Panfilov, Monogarova, Gubsky, Hakobyan
Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Naxos DVD
Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.0 / DTS 5.0
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Running time: 187 mins
No. of DVDs: 2 (DVD 5 + DVD 9)
DVD Release Date: December 13, 2011
Run Time: 187 minutes
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The Invisible City of Kitezh, completed in 1905, is a remarkable opera that fuses folklore, mysticism and realism. Its subject is the story of the advancing
Mongol army's entry to Great Kitezh and the city's subsequent miraculous survival. Rejecting archaisms and the more religiously inclined suggestions of
his librettist, Rimsky-Korsakov sought to create an opera that 'is contemporary and even fairly advanced'. It is therefore through-composed, hinting at times at
Wagnerian procedure, and flooded with the composer's rich, apt and brilliant orchestral palette, fully supportive of the powerful vocal writing.
Kitezh…deals with a national tragedy, the conquest of Russia by an unstoppable wave of relentless killers who were very good at their work, in the Mongol invasion of the 13th century.
The two scenes of the final act are the most convincing in terms of staging. For the opening forest scene we are given a couple of abstract representations of trees and two huge bird-like shapes above the stage. The final scene, in the transformed Kitezh, is very abstract but at least seems suggestive of the setting and reasonably effective.
…the musical results are more consistently rewarding. Most of the major roles are taken by capable Russian singers. Tatiana Monogarova is outstanding in the most important role, that of Fevroniia. She looks the part…and has an ample voice of pleasing quality. She spins her lines beautifully, with radiant tone, powerful, unstrained high notes, and the strength and weight in her lower register that is traditionally characteristic of Russian dramatic sopranos. The strong and sumptuous bass of Mikhail Kazakov is well suited to the role of Prince Yury, the benevolent ruler of Kitezh. His portrayal emphasizes dignity and nobility rather than the passionate anguish some others have displayed in this role when lamenting the fate of the endangered city. Mikhail Gubsky is excellent in the character role of the drunkard Grishka, effectively representing this tormented figure without becoming too grating. Gevorg Hakobyan gives a solid performance as Fedor Poyarok, the court huntsman, who after being blinded by the Tatars carries the news of their ravages to Great Kitezh. The Tatar chieftains Bedyay and Burunday are suitably gruff and coarse. The roles of the Page Boy and the Birds of Paradise, Sirin and Alkonost, are well sung. Conductor Aleksandr Vedernikov…paces the work deliberately but effectively. The Cagliari orchestra plays accurately, with good ensemble and coordination between stage and pit, and…produces a powerful enough sonority when necessary. The chorus is proficient and reliable.
The stereo sound is for the most part very good, with clarity, spaciousness, impact, and a balance that favors the singers. The voices are well focused and not shadowed by reverberation. The orchestral presence is always satisfactory, if not particularly detailed. Stage noise, too, is minimal. Picture quality is very good, and the camerawork provides a suitable balance between distance shots and close-ups…
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