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James Reel
Fanfare, January 2010

Joel Kasow reviewed the DVD release of this production in Fanfare 32:3. My colleague is generally intolerant of updated stagings and Regietheater in general. Unlike Kasow, I believe that Puccini’s story of a kept woman in fairly high society still makes sense when transferred to the 1950s, so director Graham Vick has done absolutely no harm there. Some of his blocking, though, does the singers a real disservice. Fiorenza Cedolins has to sing the first half of her second major aria lying on her back on the floor, which does her tone and support no favors. Similarly, roly–poly Fernando Portari looks unintentionally comic when he’s playfully rolling around in the sand in the resort scene near the end (if he dropped a few pounds he could be a matinee idol, which is what every lead tenor should be).

Kasow couldn’t warm up to most of the vocalism in this production, and indeed it’s competent but not special. The singing on a recent Naxos video of this opera (not issued on Blu–ray) is apparently quite mediocre, judging from Ray Tuttle’s review in Fanfare 33:1. So this Arthaus release is clearly preferable. Alas, the surround–sound mix is cavernous and unpleasant, so stick to the PCM stereo. There were apparently no microphones over the audience, so during the applause we hear more chatter from the pit than clapping from the hall. There are no special video features, and the printed booklet consists only of a brief synopsis and background essay. Still, if you have Blu–ray capability, get this version, because the colors on the women’s party dresses in the first act really pop.

Billboard, October 2002

"Not only is it one of the most engaging entries yet in the expansive Arthaus DVD-Video line, this title comprises the most inventive set of classical films in memory. The stylish, attractive Schafer has gained renown for her performances in the title role of Berg's opera Lulu; in Pierrot Lunaire, set in a surreal vision of New York, she takes center stage in what should become another of her signature pieces. Schafer sings and acts with an intense sort of charm, and her accompanists are ideal (with the Schoenberg featuring the same Pierre Boulez-led recording as on the DG CD) The creators of this DVD deserve laurels for allying freshness and approachability to real, cutting-edge creativity; despite the very European character of these films, they hold appeal far beyond the usual classical audience."

Bradley Bambarger
Newark Star-Ledger, October 2002

"Young German soprano Christine Schafer has a perfect showcase for her talents as a new-century chanteuse with this elaborate DVD. Equipped with a bright, focused voice and an acute interpretive intelligence, Schafer also possesses as stylish, attractive stage presence, as has been noted in her acclaimed performances in the title role of Berg's opera Lulu. She also has a flair for the dramatically different, as demonstrated in a trio of arty collaborations with director Oliver Herrmann. Schafer sings like a fallen angel, and she is ideally accompanied by pianist Natascha Osterkorn in the Schumann and by Pierre Boulez and Ensemble Intercontemporain in the Schoenberg. This is great music, wonderfully performed, and presented in a fresh, evocative context -- more such projects would surely help classical music break out of the "complacent square-minded world" that Schafer rightfully complains about in the interview."

Black Enterprise Magazine, April 2002

"One life places the pierrot as a ghost in a surreal metropolis, and is the most satisfying of the films."

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