Great for the Singers and the Drama on Stage
inoclafsemaj | W.C. PA United States | 04/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This recording of Berg's Lulu by the Vienna State Opera in 1968 is certainly worth aquiring. The sound is indeed clear. The microphones were placed very near the stage and certainly above and slightly away from the pit. The quality is comparable with digital (since it was mastered digitally). Curiously, the disc carries the DDD mark, which usually refers to a fully digital recording from the original to the final product. But we know this wasn't possible in 1968. (Most likely they took the tape recording and played it through speakers onto a DAT or ADAT digital recorder and proceeded with the final mastering from there - though this is only one way to do it). With that stated, the recording is mastered well enough to be comparable to the clarity associated with great digital recordings.
The microphone placement is the most immediate difference between this and other recordings. Because the stage is emphasized over the orchestra, the drama of the performance is more immediate and captivating. Footsteps can be heard, but it is not distracting. And, most importantly, the singers can be heard quite clearly. This is a different experience from the newer recordings on DG, etc. It is comparable with a good live experience of this opera (at least in the aural sense). At times the orchestra is overshadowed by the singers. Overall, it is a great recording for study of the libretto and the drama of the opera. This recording is also exceptional because it showcases the singers. Vocalists will find this to be a helpful recording. Also, it is worth picking up as a second copy because of its stage emphasis.
The cover of the recording claims that this a "legendary performance." It is a good performance - and effective in portraying the emotion and torment. The former claim of "legendary" is up for debate. After a preliminary listening, it is safe to say that all performers involed put forth a convincing effort. This is the first time I have heard the opera as a whole, so I can not compare it to other performances.
The 256 page booklet is very nice. It includes the full libretto, photographs from the performance, essays on Berg and Lulu, and brief biographies of the singers and the conductor (Karl Boehm). This 2CD set is definitely worth owning."