Supraphon 1981 Sung in English, subtitles: Czech, German, French
Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.
“Supraphon's film… was made for Czech Television… as a kind of outside broadcast, set around a real stone-built village and church. The recording still sounds sumptuous, the elision of certain segments has been done expertly and for those unfamiliar with Martinu's radiant score, this film - ending with the iconic image of the dead Manolios on the church steps, should prove a compelling and moving experience.”
“The vocal performances are without exception magnificent: John Mitchinson as Manolios and Helen Field as Katerina, respectively Christ and Mary Magdalen, deliver near definitive readings of their roles. The transfer to a realistic open air set with actors taking the vocal roles is not particularly successful.”
“The story of Martinu's penultimate opera begins with a priest allotting roles in the local Passion play to various congregation members. When a group of refugees arrive begging land (their village having been sacked by the Turks) the would-be actors begin to assume the roles of their characters. Thus, after the priest rejects the refugees on the pretext that they carry cholera, Manolios, assigned to play Christ, directs them towards Mount Sarakina where there is room to spare, while the pedlar Yannakos, playing Peter, repents of a scheme to deprive the refugees of their valuables in exchange for essentials. Panait, allotted the role of Judas, is incensed by the change of heart of Katerina, playing Mary Magdalene, who is drawn into a close spiritual bond with Manolios, who rejects his fiancée, Lenio, who in turn becomes engaged to another. In the end, Manolios's identification with Christ and sympathy for the plight of the refugees becomes too much for the priest, who excommunicates him. In a confrontation outside the church, Manolios is killed by Panait and the Passion play ended. Supraphon's film is not of a stage or even studio performance, but was made for Czech Television in 1999 as a kind of outside broadcast, set around a real stone-built village and church. The recording is that made in 1981 in Brno using the local orchestra and Czech choruses by Sir Charles Mackerras with soloists from Welsh National Opera. The live actors, for the most part Czechs, mouth the English text very well, though differences in mime technique are at times striking. The outdoor setting works remarkably well, centred on the village square, the church, various cottages and the hillside where the refugees attempt to eke out a new home. The recording still sounds sumptuous, the elision of certain segments has been done expertly and for those unfamiliar with Martinu's radiant score, this film – ending with the iconic image of the dead Manolios on the church steps, should prove a compelling and moving experience.”
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