All of Richard Strauss' stage works inhabit a special world of their own and Arabella is certainly no exception. Set amid the flamboyant aristocracy of 19th-century Vienna, the story centres on Arabella whose family fortunes have come to depend on her managing a wealthy man.
Determined to marry for love rather than riches, she encounters a mysterious and foreign nobleman in the form of Mandryka and after several romps, the opera ends positively on a blissful note.
This 1977 filmed version has many positives going for it, a stellar cast led by the charming and radiant Gundula Janowitz, superlative playing by the Wiener Philharmoniker led by the indefatigable Sir Georg Solti, one of the best Strauss conductors ever to grace the planet and above all, a production of luscious opulence fastidiously directed by the formidable Otto Schenk.
The evocative setting and costumes are also a visual celebration. Arabella, is at present, well served on the DVD format, but this release is undoubtedly a front runner. Some may argue that the piece loses some of its luster due to the fact that the spontaneity of a live performance is missing. Indeed this might be the case but the superb cast and production amply compensates for such small misgivings. One to sit back and enjoy on all counts.
Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech