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Barry Brenesal
Fanfare, November 2010

With Arthaus Musik releasing so much of the legacy of that great opera director Walter Felsenstein, one of his film productions seemed mandatory for inclusion here. The question was, which? There are five I regard as superior examples of his craft: Fidelio, Ritter Blaubart, Otello, Hoffmanns Erzählungen, and Das schlaue Füchslein (The Cunning Little Vixen). In the end, I opted for Hoffmanns Erzählungen as the most balanced example of concept, execution, directing, singing, and acting, though arguably Otello is more virtuosic, Ritter Blaubart more clever, and despite horrific cuts, his Fidelio goes straight to the heart. In any case, it is a discriminating production that follows the director’s cry of “back to the sources,” removing the Guiraud-composed recitatives, and employing dialogue from the five-act play that inspired the opera. Excellent performances all around.

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