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Delius

A Village Romeo and Juliet (DVD)
Universal Music & VI

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The key question anyone considering buying this Delius DVD should ask is simply this -- do I want to see the two protagonists naked? Yes, folks, in these low-cost, hi-tech times, when DVD has proven itself the perfect medium for bringing opera into your living room, these are the choices.

 

It's too bad, because this would be the ideal version of Delius' most famous opera, A Village Romeo and Juliet, were it not for the over-the-top account of the finale. Sure, this is sensual music -- a kind of lighter Wagnerian "love/death" for the lovers -- however, having them strip naked and copulate may be a little more literal an interpretation than is necessary. I'm not saying sex has no place in opera, but especially when one gets to the close-up of the boy Sali's face as he climaxes, one gets the feeling this production may have gone too far.

 

Musically, the performances under the direction of Sir Charles Mackerras are outstanding. The orchestra paints an almost tangible image of the natural beauty of the Swiss countryside that is only enhanced by the excellent visuals. Instead of a recording of a live stage production, the DVD features an on-location movie with actors lip-syncing most of the vocal music. Only baritone Thomas Hampson as the Dark Fiddler both sings and acts his role. The story of two young people whose love is road-blocked by their selfish parents is vividly captured and portrayed. If only the proceedings hadn't stepped over the line between subtle sensuality and outright pornography.

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