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Dr. Irving Spitz
Education Update Online, April 2011

…succeeds more convincingly in bringing out the malevolence of Katerina’s father-in-law (sung by Vladimir Vaneev) and the baseness of his character. The true motives of Sergei (sung by Christopher Ventris), are also more fully explored. In this DVD, Eva-Maria Westbroek gives a masterful vocal and dramatic portrayal of Katerina. Despite her murderous spree, in this Dutch version, Katerina elicits some sympathy since it becomes manifestly evident that she was a victim of abuse by both the father-in-law and her lover. This fascinating DVD includes bonus material and interesting interviews with the director and cast members. Conductor Mariss Jansons succeeds in bringing out the brilliance of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Particularly impressive were the interludes between the different scenes, which Jansons explains are so vital to the score.

This 2-DVD set has deservedly received a Grand Prix du Disque Lyrique, as well as several other awards. It is a worthy addition to any collection.

Michael Carter
Fanfare, November 2009

I suspect I’d be enthusiastic even if the production were creakier, given the quality of the performance. It’s not easy to maintain sympathy for Katerina, but Westbroek so vividly captures the heartbreak of her contradictions—her loneliness, her tough feminist conviction, her passion, her homicidal anger, and her ultimate despair—that the last act is absolutely shattering. Even her ill-advised attraction to Sergey seems plausible, especially given the strength of Christopher Ventris, whose bravado nearly hides the sleaziness of his character. Both leads, too, manage to get through their long, loud, and often loutish roles without hectoring. The small parts are all splendidly cast, as well (I especially appreciated Lani Poulson’s poisonous Sonyetka and Vladimir Vaneev’s leering Boris). To top it off, this is, by a wide margin, the most compelling conducting I’ve heard from Jansons, who engages the score’s polystylistic brinksmanship without ever diluting the sense of crushing inexorability that holds it together. © 2009 Fanfare Read complete review

John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune, December 2007

One of the greatest 20th Century operas comes across as a gripping experience in this Amsterdam production from 2006. Orgasm and murder are the twin poles around which Martin Kusej's stark, contemporary staging revolves. The tragedy of Katerina Ismailova, who murders two men for the sake of passionate love, elicits the very best from a flawless cast headed by Eva-Maria Westbroek as the hapless Katerina and Christopher Ventris as Sergei, her cynical lover. Conductor Mariss Jansons heats the music to a scalding boil, while the video and aural production is a model of how to translate live opera to DVD.

Christopher Williams
Fanfare, November 2007

As a performance, there is certainly much to recommend this: Eva-Maria Westbroek is an intense and laser-toned Katerina, And veteran Shostakovich interpreter Mariss Jansons brings out the score’s symphonic dimension. It is truly miraculous to hear what a first-class orchestra can do with this score. Christopher Ventris is an animalistic Sergey, and the secondary parts are well, if not particularly memorably cast. © 2007 Fanfare Read complete review

Peter J. Rabinowitz
Fanfare, November 2007

the release that had the greatest impact on me…it would have to be Netherlands Opera’s searing production of Lady Macbeth. The centennial, of course, brought a surplus of Shostakovich, both new and reissued. But with Eva-Marie Westbroek’s richly characterized Katerina, Christopher Ventris’s charismatically loutish Sergey, and Maris Jansons’s blistering conducting, this DVD made a stronger case for Shostakovich’s genius than anything I’d heard in years.

To read the complete review, please visit Fanfare online.

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