Janácek: From The House Of The Dead (Blu-Ray) - Peter Rose, Evgeniya Sotnikova

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Janácek: From The House Of The Dead (Blu-Ray) - Peter Rose, Evgeniya Sotnikova

Composer: Leoš Janácek
Artists: Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper, Peter Rose, Charles Workman, Bo Skhovus
Conductor: Simone Young
Director: Frank Castorf
Format: NTSC
Language: French, German, English, Japanese, Korean
Subtitles: English, French, German, Japanese
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Bel Air Classiques
Blu-Ray Release Date: February 14, 2020
Run Time: 97 minutes

Death is never far away in Leoš Janácek’s work, and From the House of the Dead makes no exception, especially since the composer knew he was living out his final days when he decided to adapt into an opera Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s eponymous novel, a literary work inspired by the time the novelist spent in a Siberian prison.

This painful feeling of ineluctability pervades through his disillusioned and savage score, recounting the hopeless life of the convicts in a Soviet concentration camp. Against this background that contrasts the empathic solidarity of simple men with the horrific brutality of the prison guards, stage director Frank Castorf embraces the aesthetics of the grotesque and absurd suggested by Janácek’s score, and chooses to crudely display with stark realism the physical and psychological violence at the heart of the opera.

In the pit, conducting the house orchestra, Simone Young underlines the power plays and the overwhelming lyricism unleashed by Janácek’s music. As the main protagonists, Peter Rose, Charles Workman and Bo Skovhus, all familiar with Janácek’s subtleties, bring back to life these agonizing anti-heroic characters forsaken by God and men.

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