From the House of the Dead

From the House of the Dead, Leos Janacek, Pierre Boulez conducting ★★★
An opera based on Dostoyevski’s “Memoirs from the House of the Dead”, is a storyline of men within a prison camp. I’ve heard the music before without the video, and it really doesn’t work — you must have the vision to see what’s happening. There are no arias or linear music such as one might be accustomed to with classic opera, but the music definitely fits the part. The staging is quite nicely done to form a very effective storyline of life in a Russian prison. This is not a “fun” opera, and you would not watch it, as though you were watching “The Marriage of Figaro”. Janacek’s other operas that I have on video, “The Cunning Little Vixen” and “Jenufa”, tend to not be so morbid, with CLV being a fun little comedy. This DVD had in addition an account of the making of the opera. I found it most interesting that they would spontaneously transform from German to English, to French, and then back to German, as though it were all one language.