Saturday, 21 January 2012

Wonderful Salzburg - always worth a visit

Salzburg is Austria´s fourth-largest city, but internationally it is probably as wellknown as Vienna. There are of course many reasons for Salzburg´s fame and popularity. Here are some of them:

Salzburg is beautifully located on the banks of the Salzach River, at the northern boundary of the Alps. The closest alpine peak, the 1972 m Untersberg is only a few kilometres away from the city centre.

The mighty fortress Hohensalzburg, high up on a hill, dominates the view of the Altstadt, the "old town",  one of the best-preserved city centres north of the Alps. The Altstadt is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997.   

Kapuzinerberg, on the left, is one of the two smaller mountains that surround the city 

Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart, a fact that does not go unnoticed in the city, which also hosts the famous Salzburg Festival and the Easter Festival

The Residenzplats with its  fountain   

The Mirabell Palace with its famous gardens was built by Archbishop Wolf Friedrich Raitenau in 1606

Part of the geometrically arranged baroque gardens  

Several scenes of the Sound of Music were shot in the Mirabell Palace gardens

The gardens certainly keep the Mirabell gardeners busy!

Friday, 20 January 2012

"The Berlin Concert" with Domingo, Netrebko and Villazón on blu-ray

Domingo, Netrebko and Villazón in top voice in Berlin

The title of one of my recent posts is "The Baden-Baden concert 2007 - The best ever opera gala?". Now I am pleased to have at least added the question mark, because yesterday I watched another opera concert recording, which is at least as good, and in certain respects maybe even better!

The blu-ray I am talking about is the "Berlin Concert, live from the Waldbühne" amphitheater with Plácido Domingo, Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón. The three stars are accompanied by the Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin, conducted by the great Italian maestro Marco Armiliato (who, by the way also appears in the Baden-Baden recording).

I remember watching the Berlin concert in the live broadcast on 7 July 2006, timed as a prelude to the soccer World Cup final two days later. The blu-ray version of the concert, with excellent picture and sound quality, adds a new dimension to this unforgettable evening of opera.

Netrebko and Villazón, opera´s new "dream couple"

With Domingo,  Netrebko and Villazón in top form - and clearly enjoying making music together - no wonder that the over 20,000 opera lovers in the audience and also the critics were ecstatic. The Berliner Morgenpost aptly stated that "This evening is the stuff of myth".

The Berlin Waldbühne is a wonderful setting for summer concerts

Anna Netrebko once again seduced the audience with her version of Lehár´s " my lips kiss so hotly"

Plácido Domingo "still works his magic", wrote Die Welt am Sonntag

Netrebko and Domingo in Già nella notte densa from Verdi´s Otello

Marco Armiliato has become "the new Zubin Mehta" of mega concerts

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Red Shoes - A visual and musical masterpiece

Vicky Page (Moira Shearer), a young ballerina, torn between her love for composer Julan Crasher (Marius Goring) and artistic devotion to ballet dancing.

In several earlier blogs I have praised blu-ray versions of classical movies. Having watched the wonderfully restored "special restoration edition" of Michael Powell´s and Emeric Pressburger´s "The Red Shoes" I have reason to do it again.

Vicky Page here with the famous impresario Lermontov (Anton Walbrook)

This special edition is a visual and musical delight with its stunning technicolor colour, wonderful acting and dancing and great directing by Powell and Pressburger. It is easy to agree with director Martin Scorcese, whos had this to say about the film:

"Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger created a vision in The Red Shoes that has really never been matched. Truly the most beautiful technicolor film ever made."

The Red Shoes also offers beautiful Mediterranean panoramas ...
and this nice view of the Palais Garner, the Paris Opera House in 1948
Vicky Page and the composer Julian Craster discussing their future 

Moira Shearer shines both as a dancer and an actor

Buy this wonderful special edition blu-ray! You will not regret it, even if you are not particularly interested in ballet.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Denmark - Country of 600 castles and manors

The Bernstorff Palace, just north of Copenhagen, was the preferred summer residence of King Christian IX, the "Father-in-law of Europe". Visitors included Tsar Alexander III of Russia and Edward VII of the United Kingdom. The Palace is now converted to a congress hotel facility.

If you are interested in beautiful castles, palaces and manor houses, Denmark is most certainly worth a visit. There are more than 600 castles and manor houses in this small country! Kronborg, Amalienborg, Frederiksborg and Fredensborg are probably the most well known castles, but there are many other ones which are worth exploring. Several of them have been lovingly restored and converted to hotels. Others allow other kind of access for visitors.

Fredensborg  is the main spring and autumn residence of the Danish Royal Family.
Amalienborg, consisting of four identical palaces, is the winter residence of the Danish  royal  family.
The Marienlyst Palace in Helsingør is an architectural pearl.
Bregentved, close to Haslev, is Denmark´s largest estate with its 6,338 hectars of land. It has belonged to the Moltke family since 1746. The main building consists of three two-storey wings. The north wing is from about 1650 and was converted into the baroque style in the 18th century. The south and east wings were designed by Axel Berg and built in 1890. The large park from the 1750s is open to the public at specific times. 
Frederiksborg in Hillerød is the largest Renaissance castle in Scandinavia. The oldest parts of the castle date back to 1560, and were built by King Frederik II, after whom the palace is named. The castle, which also serves as Denmark´s Museum of National History, is adjoined by a formal baroque garden.
Kronborg, known all over the world from Shakespeare´s Hamlet, is the most popular castle in Denmark with over 
200 000 visitors annually
Egeskov  in Southern Funen with its park and garden (the garden has been described as "the most beautiful in Denmark") the Veteran Car Museum and several other museums which are part of the estate, are open to the public from the end of April to late October. 
Egelund castle, close to Fredensborg, is the youngest Danish  castle.  The Confederation of Danish Employers bought the castle from Prince Knud and Princess Caroline Mathilde in 1954. It is used as a conference center.

The website Danske Slotte og Herregaarde has excellent information about the castles and manors in Denmark. .

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Still another Øresund sunset

During the last few weeks we have been able to enjoy several nice sunsets here in the Øresund region. These pictures show the intensity of colour in today´s version of the sunset:

Here you can see the Danish rescue boat MHV 906 Fanø with the north Zealand coast in the background