We turn to Kultur, who keeps releasing the unusual and unique.
Franz Liszt is considered to be one of the first superstar’s of music. The power of his performances on stage made the ladies swoon, and his fans were so fierce that his contemporaries gave a name to this phenomenon: Lisztomania.
This young Hungarian prodigy was often compared to Mozart and helped to revolutionize the world of the piano. He was a composer, conductor, pianist and teacher and was the inventor of the symphonic poem.
In the Footsteps of Liszt takes us in the footsteps of the indomitable virtuoso throughout Europe. From Parisian salons to the sublime shores of Lake Como, from Budapest to Weimar via Rome or Geneva, this revealing program then meets supporters of the memory of Liszt and pianists who dare to confront his work.
But if the composer of the famous Hungarian Rhapsodies was a tireless traveler, he was also that way in his love life. Among his many female conquests were the two major women in his life, the Countess Marie d’Agoult and Princess CarolyneSayn-Wittgenstein. Liszt’s life was full of turmoil, but it was also one of great brilliance and genius.
An opera buffa, a comedy, a masterpiece of intrigues, lies and love! Kultur offers (on Blu-ray and DVD) Il Barbiere di Siviglia, an opera in two acts by Gioachino Rossini, from the Teatro Regio di Parma. The production stars Dmitry Korchak as Il Conte d’Almaviva, Ketevan Kemoklidze as Rosina, Luca Salsi as Figaro and Giovanni Furlanetto as Don Basilio.
The aging Doctor Bartolo longs to marry Rosina, his beautiful and wealthy aid of the energetic and enterprising barber Figaro, the Count succeeds in gaining entry to Bartolo’s house disguised first as a soldier then as a music teacher.
When Bartolo becomes suspicious, he quickly summons the notary to set the seal on his marriage to Rosina. But Figaro and Almaviva are already one step ahead and the marriage contract is signed by the Count, who at last reveals his true identity. Bartolo receives generous compensation, however: the Count waives the dowry that Bartolo ought otherwise to have paid as Rosina’s guardian–although he is made to share the sum with Figaro.
Another operatic gem from Kultur: Teatro Carlo Felice Production of Puccini’s Tosca. This production, filmed at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, boasts a stage set based on Adolf Hohenstein’s original design for the work’s premiere, and brings together the best contemporary soprano-tenor combination of Daniela Dessi and Fabio Armiliato who are set against a worthy opponent in the form of Claudio Sgura as Baron Scarpia.
Tosca is a classic example of Puccini’s three-person dramatic structure–a tragic pair of lovers juxtaposed with an interfering baritone! But these traditional roles are portrayed here in a much more realistic and psychologically accurate manner than usual.
Kultur has two new additions to the “Sites of the World’s Cultures Series” worth noting.
The Escorial: The Dream of a Devout Monarch.
It was to be a bulwark of the faith, a symbol of the greatness and power of the Spanish world empire. In a manner virtually unparalleled by any other building, the Escorial reflects the spirit of its age, the 16th century, and of its patron, Philipp II. Philipp II, driven by a blind faith in the Catholic Church and the burning desire to emulate his father, Charles V, had the Escorial built in a bleak, deserted landscape. From this remote vantage point he wanted to rule the world.
The architecture is a perfect reflection of this spirit, externally an austere building almost entirely without ornamentation. It is, moreover, no coincidence that the building is reminiscent of a cloister; part of which is still used today as a monastery.
And it was from this fortified cloister that Philipp sought the solution to one of the most intractable problems of his time – the schism in the church. He resorted to the means of the Inquisition. The building, and its whole style, exudes the relentlessness with which Philipp exerted his power.
Hue: The City on the Perfume River
Hue, the former Imperial City of Vietnam, lives with its river, the Song Huan, the river of perfume, the river of fragrance. Its enticing nickname probably came from the fragrant pollen which it carries at certain times of the year.
Numerous songs and poems sing the praises of this river and of the colorful life on its banks. Yet Hue is not only the city at the river, Hue is in fact the cultural heart of Vietnam.
In the 19th century, modeled on the Forbidden City in Beijing, an Imperial Court emerged which was intended to proclaim the power and the wealth of the Nguy dynasty. This unique program gives an unprecedented close-up look at the former Imperial City with its fascinating tombs, temples and citadel.
And just in time for Election Day 2012 comes Lincoln: The One Man Show starring Gary Saderup. The actor becomes Honest Abe as he encapsulates Lincoln’s entire life, from his early “folksy” frontier humor to the eloquence of word so well remembered from his Presidential years. He reveals how Lincoln formed his attitude towards life and politics, slavery and war, peace and reconciliation.
This acclaimed one-man show takes us from Lincoln’s years as a prairie lawyer, to the steps leading up to the Civil War and throughout the war years. We see and hear his Lincoln-Douglas debates; his Emancipation Proclamation; his Gettysburg Address, as well as events in his personal life with Mary Todd and his courageous determination to preserve the Union.
Saderup is magnificent as Lincoln and delivers a memorable performance that brings Lincoln back to life in a way like never before. This unique program features a dramatic interplay of Civil War era photos, music and graphics to accompany Saderup’s unforgettable on-screen portrayal of Lincoln.