The Berlin Concert: Live from the "Waltbühne"


The Berlin Concert---Live from the "Waltbühne". Stars Plácido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, and Rolando Villazón singing opera favorites at the Berlin Waltbühne, (Forest Theater) in July 2006. Marco Armiliato conducts the Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin.  (This show should not be confused with the annual Waltbühne summer concerts put on by the Berliner Philhamoniker.)

Here are the selections performed:

  1.  Verdi Overture to Nabucco
  2.  Cilea "È la solita storia del pastore" from L'Arlesiana
  3.  Puccini "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi
  4.  Massenet "Ah! Parais! Parais, astre de mon ciel" from Le Mage
  5.  Verdi "Già nella notte densa" from Otello
  6.  Bizet Entr'acte from Carmen
  7.  Bizet "Au fond du temple saint" from Les Pêcheurs de perles
  8.  Rossini Overture to Semiramide
  9.  Grever Júrame
  10.  Lehár "Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiss"  from Giuditta
  11.  Ernesto de Curtis "Non ti scordar di me"
  12.  Puccini "O soave fanciulla" from La Bohème
  13.  Mascagni Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana
  14.  Furio Rendine Vurria
  15.  Bernstein "Tonight" from West Side Story
  16.  Rossini La Danza
  17.  Puccini "Quando men vo" from La Bohème
  18.  Pablo Sorozabál "No  puede ser" from La tabernera del puerto
  19.  Verdi "Libiamo ne' lieti calichi" or "Brindisi" from La traviata 
  20.  Lehár "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" from Das Land des Lächelns

Directed for video by Frank Hof. Released  2008, disc has 5.1 PCM and 5.1 dts-HD sound. Grade: B+

The Waldbühne, part of the Olympic Stadium complex in Berlin, seats 20,000 in Greek-style outdoor amphitheater discomfort. There's a utilitarian stage topped by a high-tech circus tent canopy---Berlin is famous for these edgy/ugly architectural experiments. To their credit, the producers of this event dressed up the stage quite well, the orchestra wore white tie, and the show looked as elegant as possible outdoors. Still, this one-shot performance had be miked and amped with wires everywhere supporting giant screens with images of the action.

The weather is rarely perfect for these events---this time it was hot and humid with Armiliato about to die from heat stroke. The singers had to mug and ham it up in an effort to connect to the vast sea of ants all over the mountain side before them. All this doesn't mesh too well with the new high-definition cameras showing what everything really looks like.

Well, nobody could complain too much about the 3 stars doing stuff like "O mio babbino caro", and Netrebko is movie-star beautiful in this film. But we still got the impression that our heroes seemed a bit harassed, unrehearsed, and jet-lagged. We note also that the producers included more than a few shots taken with standard definition cameras, and this is anathema to us HDVD fans. If you want to add a singing concert to your collection, we suggest you skip this title and start at Baden-Baden with the Deutsche Grammophon The Opera Gala. But if you can afford two discs of opera arias, you will probably be happy with the Berlin Concert also.

There's a  ton of clips about this show on YouTube, but all  of them are in poor to fair SD and not worth highlighting here.