Wozzeck [DVD]

Wozzeck [DVD]

Alban Berg's scalpel-like dissection of human baseness is compellingly captured in a 1987 Vienna State Opera production that emphasizes its often- overlooked lyricism. Based on George Buchner's play about a soldier's mad descent into murder, Berg fashioned a fast-moving exploration of both his protagonist's life and his own 12-tone music, utilized expressively throughout. As conducted by Claudio Abbado, the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus make Berg's usually difficult music utterly accessible. Franz Grundheber vividly conveys Wozzeck's descent into insanity, and Hildegard Behrens embodies his girlfriend Marie's mixture of innocence and sluttishness. Adolf Dresen's staging, thrillingly visualizing Berg's tense score, works its hair- raising magic best during the opera's climactic explosion of fatal violence. This performance of <I>Wozzeck</I>--sung in German with optional English subtitles, and with the Dolby 5.1 sound capably conveying the sheer aural creepiness permeating Berg's music--does justice to one of the true masterworks of 20th century opera. <I>--Kevin Filipski</I><p>