Mozart-La Finta Giardiniera (Ohlmann, Reinprecht, Stuttgart, Zagrosek) (2006) (NTSC)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 13-Dec-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Opera Booklet
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 139:28
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:04) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Hans Hulscher
Studio
Distributor

Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Daniel Ohlmann
Alexandra Reinprecht
Norman Shankle
Cellia Costea
Helene Schneiderman
Irena Bespalovaite
Rudolf Rosen
Case PUSH-11
RPI $69.95 Music Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Italian Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
French
Spanish
Italian
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    La Finta Giardiniera was written by Mozart not long after his 18th birthday, to a libretto attributed to Giuseppe Petrosellini. The title translates as "the phony gardener" and it is an opera buffa, a work in comic style intended to have a broad appeal.

    As we see in the silent prologue to the opera Count Belfiore (Norman Shankle) has stabbed his fiancée Violante (Alexandra Reinprecht) in a jealous rage. I'm not sure that this part was meant to be seen on stage as it happens even before the overture, making literal something that is revealed in the text as the work unfolds.

    Belfiore mistakenly thinks he has killed Violante, but she has recovered and is masquerading as the gardener Servinda together with her servant Nardo (Rudolf Rosen) in the home of the Mayor, Don Anchise (Daniel Ohlmann) who is planning to marry his niece Arminda (Cellia Costea) to Count Belfiore. The mayor also has designs on Servinda. Meanwhile Ramiro (Helene Schneiderman) wanted to marry Arminda but was rejected and plots his revenge (this is a pants role for a soprano), while the mayor's servant Serpetta (Irena Bespalovaite) is in love with him.

    Of course all sorts of complications ensure. The Count is accused of having killed Violante, so she has to reveal herself in order to clear him. But she still refuses to accept his contrition. They go briefly mad, and some meetings in the dark result in confusion and, well, more confusion. But this is opera buffa after all and everything turns out alright in the end.

    This is one of Mozart's lesser operas, with plenty of lovely music but not anything really memorable or impressive. That would be saved for his later works. The libretto is also not up to the standard of those Da Ponte would supply, but even then it is fairly conventional and the only twists and surprises are quite unbelievable.

    This performance from Stuttgart conducted by Lothar Zagrosek has a production that is not as offensive as their contemporary Ring staging with the same conductor. The sets are minimal, consisting of a dozen or so large boxes that can be arranged in various ways, and each has a doorway to allow the performers to move in and out of the set. The sides are painted in different colours, so that in the first act in a sunny garden they are yellow, while in the night scenes they are blue. There are also some polyhedrons scattered across the stage in the first act. I suppose they were meant to be abstractions of trees and bushes in the garden. The performers are dressed in 18th century costume throughout though I suspect the glasses with torches on each side were not used in the first performance of this opera. The stage directions are often a bit unusual, especially the gyrations that some of the singers go through. However the production is more innocuous and curious than irritating in the best Eurotrash tradition.

    This isn't one of Mozart's best operas, but second rank Mozart is generally better than most. It is well sung by a mainly youthful cast and performed with some conviction, if lacking vivacity.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The opera is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The NTSC video is reasonably sharp and detailed in close-up. In wider shots there is a noticeable lack of detail, a sort of fuzziness to the image. Because of the variability of the stage lighting, especially in Act Two, the brightness varies in intensity. This would be a feature of the source material so this is not an issue with the transfer. However this means that shadow detail, which is already not very good, is poor during the darker sequences.

    There are unfortunately serious compression issues with the transfer. The most obvious one is the excessive amount of edge enhancement. There is noticeable haloing around everything, and it is often very distracting. This also contributes to the loss of detail mentioned above. Aliasing is also present, limited to the horizontal lines that appear on stage, for example the portion of the stage from which the fan appears. Gibb Effect is also present, albeit infrequently, while the backgrounds and sometimes the foregrounds exhibit posterisation. Low level noise is also regularly visible.

    The entire opera is contained on a single disc, which is RSDL-formatted. The layer change is well positioned at 60:04 in between the first two acts and I did not notice it on my viewing of the programme.

    Optional subtitles, off by default, are provided in several languages. The English subtitles are in a clear white text which is easy to read, well-timed and without any spelling or grammar issues. In the style of works of this era phrases and stanzas are often repeated, and subtitling is only provided for the first run through.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is Linear PCM 2.0 stereo.

    I could not find much to fault with the audio transfer. As would be experienced in the theatre, the balance is in favour of the instruments, though as this is more like a chamber orchestra the voices are not overwhelmed. Sometimes the placement of the microphones resulted in variations in the volume of the singing, but overall it is reasonably well balanced in the mix. Being used to listening to audio recordings I would have preferred the voices to be a little more forward, but this is not a major issue with this recording.

    The stereo sound reflects the position on stage of the singers, and as they move on stage the voices move between the speakers in a lifelike fashion. The audio is very good without being quite of CD quality. There were no issues with audio sync.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Booklet

    A 36-page booklet features photographs from the production, a plot synopsis, cast biographies and an essay that methinks ascribes rather too much intellectual sophistication to the 18-year old composer. The text is repeated in French and German.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This release is identical in all regions.

Summary

    A good if not definitive presentation of this early Mozart opera.

    The video quality is problematic.

    The audio quality is very good.

    No extras apart from a booklet.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS9100ES, using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-HS60 LCD Projector projected to 80" screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES for surrounds, Elektra Reference power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: B&W Nautilus 800; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Tannoy Revolution R3; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE