Very strange, but very exciting
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording of Berg's posthumous opera, Lulu, is quite a thing one would take in as masterpiece or despise. That is, barring the singers themselves. Some call it unpleasant and jarring, others say it has more depthful beauty than any other opera.
I say, first, of the opera itself. I was deeply into romanticism before this point, and now I rethink my tastes. True, Lulu can have intensely romantic stretches, but also something more. Something more real, that is. The 12-tone composition can be difficult, but just listen, and it dawns. It is face-paced and exciting, and always very convincing dramatically, due to the tendancy of the format to follow patterns of speech rather than melodies that are "pleasant to the ear," Of course, through this all, Lulu manages to be very pleasant to the ear, if you have an open mind.
First, I was hooked in by the very abstract and interesting story. Lulu, I thought at first, was just one of those "chew them up and spit them out" heroines, but that is not father from the truth. She lives in an innocent world of her own, completely oblivious to the princples of right and wrong. It is the twisted desires, devious actions, character flaws and infortitudes of those surrounding her that give her the illusion of being corrupt. The libretto, writtten by the composer, is brilliant. It brings out a captivating and very risque story-- banned later in Nazi Germany for being "degenerate art."
As for the singing, I have a few comments as well. I've heard some rather harsh criticisms concerning Teresa Stratas in the title role. I think they are unwarranted. Stratas is an artist I have immense respect for, and I think her the perfect Lulu. She has a remarkable meekness in her stage-presence and voice that draws sympathy and pathos. This, in conflict with the character's actions, show what Lulu was intended to be. Her voice is glorious in this recording, and she sends a chilling stillness through her occasional coloratura that give perfect effect. Many claim she's too unsure too be Lulu, but I think that makes this recording. Of course, the other singers are top-rate as well. Kenneth Reigel as Alwa never falters on the high notes, but barrages them gracefully. Yvonne Minton plays a warm Geswitz, though not as adapted to sprechstimme as the rest of the crew. However, her final dying plea to Lulu, after Jack the Ripper leaves is intensely haunting and moving. And, lastly, we have a properly ill-tempered Dr. Schon.
If you wish to try sopmething new, grab a copy of this recording-- a great rendition of a sadly neglected opera."
Most effective opera I've ever heard
Androcleas | GB | 04/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an amazing set, well recorded and well played. It is Boulez conducting the full three act version of the opera, and it was Boulez who conducted the first performance of the three act version of this opera, so the performanc can be regarded as authoritative.
I am not really an opera fan, and generally I can't stand opera at all, but for me there is something about this opera and its companion Wozzeck which set them apart from other operas. They are revolutionary in the way they deal with real people rather than mythical kings and fairy tales, or 'big' historical events. This can make the emotional impact of the music far deeper psychologically, as it strikes closer to home without pretentiosity of any kind- it seems to be more real, as you can identify with the failings in the characters, and the neuroses and psychological problems with which the characters are afflicted seem to come as a direct result of their immorality.
The music and the extreme speed with which the words are sung, overlapping with high intensity make the piece very exciting. For some, perhaps younger people, this stuff could serve as a good introduction to opera, as it moves at a far greater pace and has a much more exciting storyline than a Wagner, a Puccini or a Richard Strauss.
The style in which the work is written is Alban Berg's twelve tone style, which scares some listeners, and to be fair, if all you've ever listened to is 19th century or 18th century music, the style will be a bit unfamiliar and sound odd, but Berg is not really difficult like say - Webern. Once you are used to his style , which will take quite a few listenings, he comes across as one of the most emotionally intense composers ever - makes Mahler sound like chicken feed.
So this is highly recomended if you like your music exciting, intricate and emotional"