Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

The Two Iphigenies from Amsterdam

Véronique Gens/Mireille Delunsch (Iphigénie), Salomé Haller (Diane), Nicolas Testé (Agamemnon),Anne Sofie von Otter (Clytemnestre), Laurent Alvaro (Thoas), Jean-François Lapointe (Oreste),
Yann Beuron (Pylade)

Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble & Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera/Marc Minkowski (conductor) &
Pierre Audi
(stage director)

Opus Arte - OABD7115D (Blu-ray) 267 minutes

This was a brave conception shared between Pierre Audi and Mark Minkowski, given in one night at Amsterdam in an abstract staging by Michael Simon.

The double live experience is reviewed, very positively by OperaClick; I guess that we, and many others, would have found it riveting if a heavy and harrowing experience to sit through.

The DVD (I have the blu-ray version, on a single disc) allows one to take these intense operas separately; we streched our viewing over two days, and with the unusually engrossing explanatory Extras twice more, with cumulative appreciation and admiration.

The acting stye is naturalistic and the cameras tend towards close observations of the intense conflicting emotions of the protagonists in a world when Sophocles' Gods and their believed wills dominate humans. So it is all about sacrifice and attempts to deny terrible fates, with Iphigenie (played by a soprano, then a mezzo), Agamemnon, Clytemnestra and Oreste the protagonists in sometimes unfamiliar guises.

The discussion Extras are searching and should not be missed.

Pierre Audi tells why this ancient world is relevant now, and some of the costuming bears this out; Iphigenie as Priestess of death wears a suicide bomber's belt! Of the two Iphigenies, the mezzo Gens relishes Minkowski's use of Gluck's original very low pitch; but the soprano Delunsch tackles it as a problem for her voice. Both admire what Minkowski brings to Gluck and to the asumptions of their parts, and Mireille Delunsch values what the German Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck brings to the future of French opera.

Afterwards, we returned to the Christie/Guth version of Iphigenie en Tauride, with huge masks; admired when new, it no longer quite bears comparison with the naturalism of Audi/Minkowski's, which disposes of any thoughts about Gluck's operas being "boring" as against the future Mozart's, which Mireille Delunsch articulates in discussion.

Recommended strongly.

Peter Grahame Woolf