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Menotti: Goya / Villaume, Domingo, Breedt, Martinez [DVD]

Album Summary

>Menotti, Gian Carlo : Goya
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"Goya is strong, passionate, quite theatrical and overwhelmingly romantic....This opera is constructed on unabashed passion and most of all excitement... it's intensive theater - comic, probing, visually spectacular." Washington Post, 1986


Gian Carlo Menotti, who would have celebrated his hundredth birthday in the summer of 2011, was far from being a musical revolutionary - and yet he had a crucial influence on the history of 20th century opera. He wrote his first opera at the age of eleven and remained committed to this great art form for the rest of his life. His Amelia al Ballo, first performed in 1937, was an early example of the elements that were to bring him fame and lasting popularity: grand melodies, dense orchestration and an unerring sense of the dramatic. "What is important for me is to see living, singing people on the stage," he once said - and it was with this in mind that he wrote all the libretti for his own works. One can imagine the conversation about music - in particular modern music - that took place when Menotti invited Domingo to dinner in 1977. It wasn't long before the crucial question was raised: "Gian Carlo, why don't you write an opera for me?" As they thought about an appropriate topic, Domingo mentioned the life of the great Spanish artist Francisco Goya, whose work he admired above all others. "Domingo suggested Goya and I agreed immediately", said Menotti later. "I think it was the only time I accepted someone else's idea."


Duchess of Alba: MICHELLE BREEDT

Maria Luisa, Queen of Spain: IRIDE MARTINEZ




Stage Directed by KASPER BECH HOLTEN

Stage & Costumes by STEFFEN AARFING

The work has a number of gorgeous arias and duets, and this performance should win it a new and enthusiastic audience. Kasper Bech Holten's staging is traditional, straightforward, and moving. Emmanuel Villaume's conducting has sweep, ardor, and firmness of pulse; the music never sags.

Even away from historical accuracy, we have the most important in the life of Goya, from the Duchess of Alba, a little sensual but dutiful Michelle Breedt, lfricoligera Iride Martinez as the histrionic sovereign Maria Luisa or less interesting but involved Andreas Conrad and Maurizio Muraro as Charles IV and Godoy respectively. Also have a luxury Gerhaher as Martin Zapater, or currently in high demand Nadia Krasteva in the role of Leocadia. However, here the stars go for a scenic monster as Sunday, in a role that being written especially for him, hidden defects and potential virtues.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 101 min.
Region: All
Picture Format: NTSC, 4:3, Color
Sound Format(s): LPCM Stereo,
Subtitles: Engish, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean


Wonderful Opera from a Modern Opera Composer
Gian Carlo Menotti is perhaps best known for his wonderful and chilling opera “The Consul”. In 1977, Menotti invited Placido Domingo to dinner while the latter was performing in Edinburgh and Domingo asked Menotti if he would write an opera for him – and the agreed upon subject would be Francisco Goya, the Spanish painter. Mr. Menotti chose the Countess of Alba as Goya’s love interest (which is not factually accurate), but certainly in this particular production the pairing of Mr. Domingo with Michelle Breedt as the Countess works extremely well indeed. Those two definitely have chemistry! And needless to say, Ms. Breedt is a wonderful singer and is a real treat to hear together with Mr. Domingo.

The opera itself features Iride Martinez as the Queen of Spain, who also desires Goya and is antagonized by the Countess, whom she eventually poisons. The painting scene between Goya and the Countess is playful and the Countess’ death scene is particularly powerful and moving. The last Act of this three act opera, where the Countess dies and where a much older Goya himself dies, is a fascinating combination of warmth and compelling sadness, mixed with forgiveness. The performers are wonderful, and the sets and music (performed by the Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien and Festival-Choir KlangBogen Wien) all work very well with this belcanto-style opera.

I was captivated by “The Consul” the first time I saw it, and was very pleased to discover this opera from Mr. Menotti…and it did not disappoint in the slightest. I sincerely recommend it.

Submitted on 01/23/12 by KlingonOpera 
One of Menotti's last operas worth a look!
This attractive production of one of Menotti's last - and lesser known - operas is well worth checking out. Written expressly for Placido Domingo and premiered in Washington in 1986, Domingo carries the weight of the brilliant but troubled artist quite well. At its premiere, "Goya" actually did not do well in the press. It was beat up a bit for a weak and psychologically scattered libretto, also by the composer (so they say) and for melodies that are quite typical Menotti (which is to say very Puccini-esque) but not very strongly memorable. I did not see that production. My only exposure to this score is the present production, by the Viennese Theatre, under the direction of Kasper Holten and conductor Emmanuel Villaume and I found much to admire. Menotti's Francisco Goya is largely fictional. The painter is seen in a sort of lifelong quest of eternal beauty and begins almost as a Rodolfo from "La Boheme" but ends in madness and despair in what is nearly a "mad scene." The dying artist has not found the lasting love he thought he would find in his infatuation with the Duchess of Alba (portrayed here wonderfully by Michelle Breedt) in part to the Duchess own liberte but because a very jealous Queen Maria Luisa has her poisoned! It is true that much if these plot elements never happened. Various women of import in early 18th century royal Spain found Goya talented and attractive, including the Queen; so it goes. It is also true that Goya did die deaf, alone, possibly suffering from dementia (see his later paintings and their brutal hallucinogenic visions) and on the outs with the Spanish monarchy due to Goya's political disagreements. The rest makes for melodrama in the imaginative of Menotti but I find it entertaining. Placido Domingo in 2004 is still a commanding figure and with a very strong voice and the subject is clearly one dear to him as a Spaniard (I think for an even more astonishing performance of the more recent - and older - Domingo, see his portrayal of Pablo Neruda in Daniel Catan's "Il Postino") However, soprano Iride Martinez nearly steals the show as the shrill, attention demanding, vindictive and darkly humorous Maria Luisa, Queen of Spain, wife of the somewhat mousy Charles IV (as portrayed here) The staging here is a bit minimal but nice with bright colors (The Washington National premiere was quite lush according to reports). Menotti's score does contain several extended intermezzi in which there are - presumably - some scenery and costume changes. They are actually a little long by opera standards and the video makes up for what would be sound only by showing some scenes from the preceding action done very well and almost like an old scrapbook. The Vienna Radio Symphony under Emmanuel Villaume plays very well and the final scene, in which the dying Goya envisions his lost love, Lady Cayetana, Duchess of Alba, assuring him of her devotion - if not eternal commitment - is quite touching. There are several good reasons to get this DVD; for lovers of Menotti who want one the master's last big works, to have another fine performance by Placido Domingo in their library - made all the more wonderful - because of his own advancing age and, lastly, for some great secondary performances, particularly that of Iride Martinez.
Submitted on 02/06/12 by Dan Coombs 
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Works Details

>Menotti, Gian Carlo : Goya
  • Performers: Michelle Breedt (Mezzo Soprano); Placido Domingo (Tenor); Christian Gerhaher (Baritone); Iride Martinez (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Emmanuel Villaume
  • Ensemble: Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1986