James L. Zychowicz
, August 2012
This DVD is a transfer…The 1970 film benefits from the close angles and controlled sound of the studio in order to bring the audience into the stage action. While the result may lack the dynamic interaction with an audience, it still conveys the immediacy of an effective theatrical production.
All in all, the performances give a sense of the work, especially through continuity which remains an attractive element of the film. The action moves smoothly between the scenes and plays well into the timing necessary for the comic twists. In the first part of the work, the somewhat sentimental aria “Man liebt nur einmal auf der Welt” is nicely put across by Harald Serafin (Paul), and its repetition is not unwelcome. Yet its reprise is not allowed to halt the action, with the character Feodora played by Beata Hasenau nicely upstaging Serafin’s reverie by interrupting him and calling for a can-can. Other numbers are memorable, such as the letter scene in the first act underscored with the ensemble “Heute abend”, in which the women Helen Mané (Angèle), Maria Tiboldi (Marguerite), Tatjana Iwanow (Palmira) and Christiane Schröder (Hortense) compose the messages to the husbands and anticipate the excitement of the opera ball of the title. The patter songs of the nephew Henri, portrayed by Uwe Friedrichsen, suggest some aspects of Gilbert and Sullivan, especially in the first act number “Ich habe die Fahrt um Kap Horn gemacht,” with its use of nautical convention. Ultimately the “Chambre separée” waltz recurs sufficiently to identify its music with work, a feature that is not unwelcome. The timing in the film allows it to work cogently within this interpretation of the operetta.
The film also merits attention for the effective sets, which make use of the graphic style of fin-de-siècle Paris to reinforce the style implicit in the music. The conscious evocation of Toulouse-Lautrec is brought to life through the choreography, with its homage to the can-can immortalized in art. Beyond the spirit of the period, the film captures the spirit of Heuberger’s famous operetta. While this work is now staged infrequently, the release of this film builds a case for reviving Der Opernball so that modern audiences might enjoy its charms. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review