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Recording Date: 2000
Place of recording: Théatre Musical de Paris - Chatelet
Running Time: 147 (Opera 119 min; Documentary 28 min) min
Picture Format: 16:9
Sound Format: PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Menu Languages PAL: D, F, GB, SP
Subtitle Languages PAL: D, F, GB, SP
Menu Languages NTSC: F, GB, JP, SP
Subtitle Languages NTSC: F, GB, JP, SP
“'An opera by John Adams' says the packaging. Not quite. This is the composer's multi-cultural, post-feminist, quasi-minimalist take on Handel's Messiah, drawing on sources ranging from the pre-Christian prophets to 20th-century Hispanic women writers. While designed to allow fully staged productions, the concept and its musical realisation bring us closer to oratorio. Adams's musical language is predictably inclusive. There's a prominent role for three Brittenish countertenors, Broadway and popular idioms are more or less willingly embraced, and the use of repetition is sometimes reminiscent of Philip Glass in his heyday. El Niño's sound world is delicate and lustrous, and, although Part 1 can seem a mite static with a surfeit of vocal recitative, there are fewer longueurs in Part 2. If not perhaps the unqualified masterpiece acclaimed by some critics, this is an effective and often truly affecting score: derivative, to be sure, yet obstinately fresh. The performance as such is pretty much beyond criticism. The main characters are on top form, combining absolute vocal assurance with dramatic flair – and none more so than Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. The crisp DVD images certainly help explain the sensational impact of the European première, a multimedia extravaganza from Peter Sellars' top drawer in which dance and film interact quirkily with the exertions of chorus and soloists. If you haven't yet acquired a player, the remarkable success of El Niño is as good a reason as any to take the plunge. Strongly recommended. The Death of Klinghoffer The Death of Klinghoffer Sanford Sylvan bar Leon Klinghoffer Stephanie Friedman mez Omar James Maddalena bar First Officer Thomas Hammons bar First Officer Thomas Young sngr Molqui Eugene Perry bar Mamoud Sheila Nadler mez Marilyn Klinghoffer London Opera Orchestra Chorus; Lyon Opera Orchestra / Kent Nagano Nonesuch b 7559-79281-2 (135' · DDD · N/T) F How many living composers do you suppose would happily watch their scores lead a short life, relevant but finite? Not many; but John Adams might be one. First Nixon in China, then The Death of Klinghoffer: rarely before has a composer snatched subjects from yesterday's news and made operas out of them. Admittedly, themes of lasting significance lurk beneath this work's immediate surface: conflict between cultures and ideologies, rival claims to ancestral lands, human rights in general. Specifically, however, it takes us back no further than October 1985, when Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro and murdered wheelchair-bound passenger Leon Klinghoffer. The opera guides us through those events, albeit in an oblique fashion. Whatever the long-term fate of the opera, Alice Goodman's libretto certainly deserves to be spared from oblivion. It's eloquent and beautiful, compassionate and humanitarian, rich in imagery and spacious in its sentence-structure. If TheDeath of Klinghoffer finally disappoints, it's because the marriage of words and music is so fragile. The opera's musical language is firmly rooted in tradition, but it's doubtful if anyone will come away from it with a memorable lyric moment lodged in the mind. The recording uses the cast of the original production, and contains no weak links. As you expect from Adams, the score has been superbly orchestrated, and it's done full justice by the Lyon Opera Orchestra.”
“Nagano's unfussy direction...ensures maximum clarity...Willard White shakes the heavens while soprano Dawn Upshaw and the late mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson sing with ferocious intelligence and physicality. Neither has sounded better. Like Nixon in China before it, El Niño already feels like a classic.”
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