"What better legacy could an opera-house director leave behind him than a string of excellent theatrical productions! Rolf Liebermann (1910-1999), who was actually a composer, certainly succeeded in doing this – particularly during the 14 years from 1959 to 1973 that he spent in charge of Hamburg State Opera. During the Liebermann era the company in this northern German city embarked on a new artistic and administrative course that had - and still has - an impact on the entire operatic scene in central and Western Europe.
It is significant in terms of Rolf Liebermann’s artistic credo that he selected Joachim Hess’ 1969 production of Zar und Zimmermann to be included amongst the august ranks of his 13 opera films. What he was clearly trying to achieve was as varied as possible a documentation of the performing capabilities of the Hamburg opera company during this period. Millions of television viewers (in those days) were to be given the opportunity to share the experience.
It may seem strange nowadays, but all that needs to be said regarding the production is that the story, in terms of libretto and music, has been realised on a simple 1:1 basis – with all the technical skills available to film-makers in the late 1960s."