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Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 26th, 2011, 02:48 PM
Il Trovatore (1853), lyric drama in 4 acts, music by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), with an incomplete libretto by Salvatore Cammarano, finished under Verdi's guidance by Leone Emanuele Bardare, after the tragedy El Trovador (1836) by Antonio Garcia Gutiérrez.

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Since this is the next in-Depth opera, I'm watching today a poorly known production from the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, from April 2005, conducted by Carlo Rizzi, with Leo Nucci as Il Conte di Luna, Dimitra Theodossiou as Leonora, Mariana Pentcheva as Azucena, Miroslave Dvorski as Manrico, Andrea Papi as Ferrando, Bernadette Lucarini as Ines, Enrico Cossuta as Ruiz, and Rafaelle Costantini as the old gipsy.

Stage director Paul Curran. Scenarios and costumes Kevin Knight. Video director Gino Rossi.

Hardy Classic, 16:9, region zero, subtitles in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese. Sound DTS 2.0, DTS 5.1, and DD 5.1. Running time 130'. Insert with brief essay in Italian, English, and Spanish, nothing else (no synopsis, no track list). No extras.

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Sets for the opening scenes are sparse and not particularly compeling, with poor lighting. The first scene with Ferrando singing Di due figli vivea padre beato gives us a funny-looking Andrea Papi whose bass voice doesn't project very well above the loud orchestra. The chorus seems good (which is essential for a successful Trovatore).

Dimitra Theodossiou delivers a very good Tacea la notte placida and passes the difficult stretches with flying colors - she will certainly be an asset for this DVD. Bernadette Lucarini as Ines is pale in comparison but is vocally adequate without major mistakes, so far.

Dimitra follows up with impressive and agile coloratura in Di tale amor that matches well the orchestral tempi. She is in good control, and this is a lively orchestra (I like it, if only they'd lower the volume a little).

Leo Nucci makes his entrance and his baritone voice is a bit fatigued with a vibrato that is getting to be too large and loose. Miroslav Dvorski is a good Manrico, with a tenor voice with beautiful timbre, in spite of lacking potency.

Acting is not impressive by any of these protagonists. The trio Di geloso amor sprezzato again has the orchestra playing too loud and only Dimitra is able to soar above it.

*Very* good rendition of the Anvil Chorus Vedi le fosche notturne follows. Like I said, this is a good chorus, and and the fully resonant orchestra impacts on this gorgeous piece the right incisiveness. Movement on stage is well done. This chorus piece due to its overexposure is not that easy to get right, and here, they more than do.

Unfortunately we can't say the same about Mariana Pentcheva's rendition of Stride la vampa, which is pretty much a disaster, especially in the first half of the aria, when there are glaring pitch errors (she gets a bit better for the second half).

Condotta ell'era in ceppi is equally poorly sung. Ms. Pentcheva is sinking this production (well, when Caruso said that a successful Trovatore requires the four best singers in the world, we definitely don't have this, here - and shouldn't expect it, in this regional opera house production).

Leo Nucci does a good job with Il balen del suo sorriso in spite of the fatigued voice; he still partially has what it takes. His Per me ora fatale on the other hand is less good, probably suffering from the strain he had to take on while singing the previous aria - and here, in this fundamental aria, his voice loses volume and he is again overwhelmed by the orchestra and the chorus - a pity.

Dimitra ends the second act with aplomb. She is really doing very well in this production. The final trio in act II is a success for all three singers. Dimitra lowers her voice a bit and the orchestra finally realizes that they also need to play down the volume, so that we can hear the tenor and the baritone. A good scene.

Chorus-heavy third act is a good fit for this production which does have a good chorus. Even Ms. Pentcheva is doing a little better.

Mr. Dvorski does well with Ah si, ben mio coll'essere. Nothing to write home about, but pretty good, with adequate passion and musicality. I hope he's saving something for Di quella pira which is coming.

OK, not bad, especially the first part, before he gets drowned by the orchestra and the chorus. But not too good either. A so-so pira, these flammes are not scorching hot...

Ms. Theodossiou again steals the show with her D'amor sull'ali rosee. Very expressive, very passionate, with good breath control, good mastery of the musical line, good acting, and well executed coloraturas. She gets the biggest ovation so far and lots of "bravas." She is clearly several notches above everybody else in this production. We're about to get to my favorite part of Il Trovatore, the one I always wait for with goosebumps: the chorus and duet Miserere. I hope it is good.

Wow. They nailed it. This one that is one of the most beautiful scenes in all of opera was masterfully done, with a superb Theodossiou, the orchestra and chorus were very good, and even the sparse staging got a little better with a candlelit procession. Mr. Dvorski's voice in off with the orchestra playing softly was very good. This is a very good Miserere, which will turn my verdict into a 'recommended' one.

The duet Ai nostri monti ritorneremo between Manrico and Azucena is not bad. The whole prison cell scene is effective, and gets even better when Dimitra walks in. The quartet Prima che d'altri vivere is beautiful and well interpreted.

The final scene is a bit anticlimactic since it depends on Azucena who isn't well sung in this production.

Verdict - while this production is uneven, I've seen worse (Annie and Natalie know what I'm talking about, hehehe). Certainly for a regional opera company it is rather decent. There are some very good moments, thanks to a good soprano in the female leading role. We also get an energetic orchestra and a good chorus. Staging is primitive, lighting is dark, the image is not great, and the sound balance favors the orchestra too much. Worse of it all, casting for roles other than Leonora's are not as successful. It's a 3 stars out of 5, and an optional buy, but not terrible. It can be recommended to the Trovatore fanatic thanks to its very successful renditions of the Anvil Chorus and of Miserere, but the casual fan may want to look elsewhere for a better DVD version.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 2nd, 2012, 12:25 AM
La Traviata 'a Paris DVD (PAL)
Yay, I'm all excited.
I got my region-free PAL/NTSC DVD player, set it up with HDMI - 1080p, my import from Italy arrived in the mail, and I was able to watch parts of La Traviata a Paris with gorgeous image and sound (upscaling worked properly). The doors of the DVD-buying world are wide open for me!

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Now, I'm *very* impressed with the box. Are you Europeans always this good in terms of DVD packaging and inserts, or is this a special edition or something? There is a gorgeous booklet - it's actually a little book with hardcover, the box is all luxurious and all, looks like a chocolate box.

Then, the production itself. La Traviata is one of my favorite operas and I own several versions of it. None is this good looking. The settings in Paris and Versailles are spectacular, and this filmed version with *perfect* lip-syncing transports you into the story as if the "real" events were happening before your very eyes.

Talking about eyes, Eteri Gvazava is eye candy. She is almost as beautiful in this production as Anna Netrebko, and also seems skinnier and more frail, thus is a very credible Violetta; one can really believe that she is highly desired by the male characters, and that she is suffering from tuberculosis.

That's where the similitude ends, sadly. Anna in her 2005 Salzburg Traviata sings some ten times better than Eteri (who has a rather small voice and doesn't risk some high notes), and José Cura while not as bad is no match for Villazón either - and this, not to talk about other spectacular Violettas of the past. So, the singing in this production is really lacking, and it gets a little annoying due to the fact that everything else is so gorgeous - to the point that one wonders why they didn't select a better soprano and a better tenor, since they were spending that much money with all the other production values.

About the sound track - the balance between orchestra and voices is not ideal. Sometimes one smothers the other. I only tried the dolby stereo sound, not the DTS or the dolby 5.1, so maybe the other tracks are better (my cheap region-free DVD player does have HDMI to connect to the TV, but has no digital sound output to connect to the receiver so I had to rely on the TV speakers).

In terms of Zubin Mehta's conducting, it isn't bothersome, but I've seen better.

Still, in spite of the shortcomings above, I feel that having this Traviata at home will be lots of fun, especially when I want to introduce new people to opera. It is a very well made movie. It's better in terms of image than in terms of sound (technical problems with the stereo track, no brilliant conducting, and less than stellar singing are all much less spectacular than the images), but I'd still recommend this DVD for being so incredibly easy on the eyes.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 2nd, 2012, 12:27 AM
Verdi: I Lombardi
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No competition, only version on DVD. Carreras does well except for some high notes when he tries to match Dimitrova's power and spreads a little. Dimitrova is uneven. Big voice of course, which is her hallmark, but less agile in coloratura. And she doesn't look the part. Staging is traditional and well done.

Now, for the opera itself:

What a mess. Sorry, Maestro Verdi, but even this big fan of yours didn't like this one.

Yes, there are some good moments - La mia letizia infondere in Act II scene 1, Oronte's aria, and the one that just follows this one (I didn't catch the words, I was distracted - I only have the disc from Netflix, without the insert) are both very good tenor arias. But oh boy, I had to go through the rather dreadful Act I and wait a lot for this piece of good stuff.

Of the multiple choruses, most of them not too good, the one that opens act III, Gerusalem! Gerusalem! is quite impressive. Actually scene 1 of act III is quite good, with the duet between Oronte and Giselda bringing us some rather beautiful moments: (Per dirupi e per foreste, Oh belle, a questa misera.

Act III scene 3 is good too - very nice violin prelude, and a good trio with Oronte, Giselda, and the Hermit, in two parts, the first one decent (Qui posa il fianco) and the second one really good (Qual voluttà trascorrere) - in my opinion, this is the best moment of the entire opera.

Act IV sc 1 has some interesting moments: the opening chorus is quite celestial, followed by some beautiful arias Oh! Di sembianze eteree, and the one by Oronte's ghost (I didn't catch the words in this one either) and Non fu sogno!, a nice coloratura piece for Giselda.

This is pretty much the last of the really good parts, since from this point on, the last two scenes (2 and 3) are rather conventional and so-so, with more mediocre choruses and ensembles that are quite unremarkable (maybe with the exception of the last one in sc 2, Guerra! Guerra! which is a little better. Un breve instante, the trio in the last scene, is not bad, but not extraordinary either. Then, there is the final chorus, quite sugary. Curtain.

Anyway, there are too many choruses in this opera; and this, I'm saying in spite of the fact that I love choruses - by comparison, Berlioz's Les Troyens has even more choruses, but the difference is that they are *all* good, while here and atypically of him, Verdi isn't at his best in the matter of choruses, and the demanding La Scala audience even boos a couple of weak ones.

Overall, a minor early Verdi, with a rather confusing (one of the best Oronte arias comes *after* he dies, LOL), boring and weak libretto; and even musically, the good parts above only save this opera from earning a C in my personal scoring system, but aren't enough to raise it above a B-.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 2nd, 2012, 12:29 AM
Verdi: Ernani on DVD
I'm watching this as I type.

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I have seen another a version with Pavarotti and Mitchell not so long ago - now it comes back to mind sharply, and I remember how much I had enjoyed the vocal performance of a young Pavarotti at the peak of his mastery of his beautiful voice.

So, no surprise regarding the opera itself - a good example of a rather bad libretto set to pretty good music - but I'm curious to see how Domingo and Freni do.

Traditional production from La Scala, with their usual lighting problems (often too dark), and the sound balance is terrible, not to forget the huge, intrusive subtitles. Technically speaking, not a good DVD. The staging is unattractive, with ugly costumes and some weird props (like the shiny silver columns).

OK, Domingo is on, and no, he doesn't sound as good as the young Pavarotti. But on the other hand, Mirella Freni looks adorable and sings just as lovely. She rescues this otherwise weak DVD.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 2nd, 2012, 12:31 AM
Verdi: I Vespri Siciliani on DVD
I'm currently watching I Vespri Siciliani in a La Scala production with Cheryl Studer as Elena and Chris Merritt as Arrigo.

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So far so good, I've seen the first two acts.

Some of the positives: this DVD has a gorgeous PCM uncompressed sound track that sounds really deep and rich. One has the impression of being there, listening to the orchestra in person. This is made even better by Riccardo Muti's extremely energetic performance (unlike his usual self), and believe me friends, the sounds that come out of the La Scala orchestra are unusually good. Negatives: no surround sound, no wide screen, subtitles only in English, no bonus features. Therefore, a technically outdated DVD, but who cares, since the sound is really tops? After all, we're here for the music, right?

Second, the singing is fantastic. Chris Merritt is a great Arrigo, full of passion and volume with crystalline diction; one would think he is an Italian-born lyric tenor. While I've never particularly liked Cheryl Studer's voice (it's a matter of timbre, I don't find hers to be beautiful), she is technically flawless on this DVD and doesn't miss a single note.

The staging weirdly "updates" the action from the 13th to the 19th century with Napoleonic costumes. This is something I'll never understand. You either do a traditional staging, or an updated one to current times. Why on Earth would a stage director want to "update" something to a few centuries ahead, but still, in the remote past? What exactly is the advantage of having Napoleonic costumes???

The opera itself: it's Verdi in his patriotic mood, and it is majestic, full of chorus numbers. No big fireworks in terms of arias, but some pretty good ensembles and chorus music. It's very enjoyable, but not one of his masterpieces. I'd grade it a B. With one exception: the overture is A++, one of Verdi's best.

I'd grade this DVD a B as well, because as much as Cheryl Studer is technically perfect, she doesn't look the part. Lately I've grown used to not having to use my imagination to overcome a plain-looking soprano's physical appearance when someone sings of her extraordinary beauty. In this age of the Netrebkos and Perssons and Leonards and De Nieses, as shallow as this may seem, I don't enjoy as much a DVD with a plain-looking soprano.

Sure, when it's someone like Montserrat Caballé, you can disregard her looks. But Cheryl Studer isn't *that* good a singer that I'd forgive her for not being pretty.

Oh, God, I sound like a Chauvinist pig. Maybe I am one!

Anyway, still three more acts to go - the third act ballet in this performance is supposed to be gorgeous, with top level dancers; I shall see.

I may edit this post to add some other impressions after I see the whole thing.

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This is a top-singing studded production. And I can't stop feeling amazed by the gorgeous, deep sound track. I'm listening to this with my headphones, and the uncompressed PCM track is something!

The ballet is still ahead... as long as the ballerinas are good looking, I'm sure I wont mind it.

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This was absolutely spectacular! It's not every day that we see major dancing stars performing an opera ballet! Carla Fracci was phenomenal, with such delicate, light, precise movements! This was extremely elegant, and Verdi's music for ballet in this opera is a choreographer's dream! Bravo maestro, and brava, Ms. Fracci!!!

Not only the overture for this opera is A++, but it's ballet music is A++ as well. Sure, it breaks down the action, what opera ballet doesn't? This opera was made for the French stage, so, the ballet was mandatory. But here, instead of the conventional Meyerbeer sugary and uninteresting stuff, you have a master at the top of his powers, and Verdi surely delivers!

Great ballet, and this is being said by someone who loathes ballets in operas.

Long opera. A bit tiresome. I'll stop here.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 2nd, 2012, 12:35 AM
Verdi: Atilla on DVD
This is a traditional staging at the Arena di Verona, with mediocre singers (Veriano Luchetti as Foresto is rather bad; Silvano Carroli as Ezio is better; Evgeny Nesterenko in the title role is very shaky and uneven, he makes one long for Ramey), and a so-so orchestra conducted by Nello Santi. There is a cute soprano in the role of Odabella (Maria Chiara, with reasonable voice but weak acting), and of course the Arena di Verona is a magic place, but that's about all that goes for this otherwise outdated DVD filmed live in 1985. Well, at least it's cheap (used copies go for $11). Part of the incredibly bad acting is that when Odabella pierces Attila with her sword, Maria Chiara only managed to pretend to pierce him pretty much around his leg, which didn't stop him from dying immediately, in what is mocked as the fastest operatic death in the repertory, LOL. The opera itself is no sublime masterpiece but it delivers enough fun (early Verdi in his patriotic mode with some nice choral parts and a handful of good numbers).

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Here is a picture of Maria Chiara, who in her prime might be a candidate for a low rank lovely soprano:

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Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 2nd, 2012, 12:36 AM
Verdi: Stiffelio on DVD
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I'll start by talking about the opera itself.

Stiffelio is not a masterpiece but has its moments. Shortcomings include the overture, the libretto, the pace, and a certain heaviness combined with loudness that are both factors that decrease its lyricism. Strengths include some powerful scenes with psychological depth, beautiful arias for the lower registers of the male voice, some beautiful choral music, and improved orchestration in the last scene. As for the subject matter, I'd say that is both a shortcoming and a strength. Allow me to explain the above one by one.

First, the overture. It is the weirdest thing. It starts beautifully during its first third and actually at this early point delivers some of the most enjoyable music in the opera, and seems to progress to an end. But then it restarts, more formulaic this time, and again seems to end. Then it restarts again and becomes even more formulaic and bombastic, finally ending at 9 and a half minutes. It could be significantly shortened, and furthermore, it seems completely disconnected from the opera. It is lively and over-joyous, especially in its first third, for such a somber opera. Verdi would have been more successful if he had picked the ominous organ music from the last scene and presented some elements of it in his overture. As it is, this is one of the strangest Verdi overtures, since the maestro often went through special pains to make sure that his overtures connected with his operas and were custom made fore each specific one, which doesn't seem to be the case for the Stiffelio overture. I'd like to know more about this perceived incongruence from learned musicians, so I hope someone will comment on this for me.

The libretto by Piave is poetically weak, cliched, monotonous, and repetitious. This directly affects the pace, for nothing much happens. The opera goes through a number of back-and-forth moments on the issue of Lina's unfaithfulness - Stiffelio asks himself 'is she faithful? Is she unfaithful?' (while this is so obvious to everybody else that one wonders why in the hell he's still uncertain). Her father oscillates between disgracing her and covering up for her. She oscillates between confessing or not. This all goes on for too long. At the very end and after much grief, Stiffelio suddenly forgives her, curtain. The one thing that happens - the death of Raffaele, killed by Lina's father Stankar - takes place off-stage, which is weird because there was an earlier duel between Stankar and Raffaelo, and like Bellini used to say, opera seria needs a good murder on stage to succeed - a missed opportunity to do just that then and there, in front of the spectators.

Oh boy, is this opera loud! And it's not the good kind of loud as in majestic Aida, but rather, a loudness that takes away the psychological delicacy of the situations, thus what I said about heaviness - something that Verdi would learn later to avoid, with the piano piano scenes in Don Carlo and Otello, for instance, or in La Traviata's Forse lui sequence.

The good parts: the duel scene followed by Stiffelio's intervention is a good opportunity for running the gamut of psychological depth, with displays of anger, jealousy, surprise with denial (Ah no, è impossibile - one of the best tenor arias), despair, and restraint. Father-daughter interactions also provide good moments, a hallmark in Verdi's operas (the early loss of his baby daughter imprinted on him this uncanny skill to depict father-daughter relationships).

The opera opens with a superb aria for bass voice, Oh Santo Libro. Good arias for the baritone voice are numerous, the best one being Lina, pensai che un angelo.

We get treated to good choral music, another Verdi hallmark, especially in Non Punirmi Signor, part of the very effective final scene. The orchestration, which starts pallid, gains in strength as the opera advances, and by the last act the music becomes more ominous and solemn, especially during the beautiful organ parts.

Finally, a little comment on the subject matter: while the topic is not very appealing and we don't get to care much for this protestant minister whose wife is unfaithful - and this was not very well received in Catholic Italy, encouraging Verdi to rework the ending adding another act and implementing a revision significant enough (including a change in time) to rename the work Aroldo - there is also merit in the fact that this opera seemed to start the movement towards more realistic topics, resulting in Verdi moving away from mythology and royalty towards the common men and women - a trend that would result in the choice of subject for La Traviata and would ultimately influence the Verismo composers.

In summary, this is enjoyable enough for early Verdi but not one of his best, not even when we consider only the early period (I'd prefer Macbeth and Luisa Miller). But given the strengths named above, it's not unworthy of consideration, and is good enough to justify it being part of the collection of a thorough Verdi fan.

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Now, the DVD. It captures live a production from Covent Garden in 1993 sung in Italian, with the ROH orchestra and chorus conducted by Edward Downes, and sang by José Carreras (then 47 years old) as Stiffelio, Catherine Malfitano (then 45) as Lina, Gregory Yurisich as Stankar, Gwynne Howell as Jorg, Robin Leggate as Raffaele, Lynton Atkinson as Federico, and Adele Paxton as Dorotea. It is directed by Brian Large.

Technically speaking, it is deficient just like most Kultur releases: 1.33:1 format, no choice of sound track, no subtitles in original Italian language, only subtitles in English that can't be turned off, no insert (just a list of chapters), no extras or menus. The image is decent. The sound has ups and downs: we can discern too much incidental noise (score pages being turned during the overture, cough, stage floor creaking, etc.) and volume varies with microphone placement (particularly noticeable during the duel scene). On the other hand, the sound is still full and resonant, and somehow its unpolished nature gives the impression that we are at the opera house.

Now, the production. Staging is traditional, appropriate, and non-intrusive. Scenery is simple but tasteful. Scenes are separated by black and white panels that work well, and furniture and costumes are sober and fine. No Regie shenanigans.

Conducting and orchestra do a decent job, and often seem more lively than the acting and singing.

Acting is a mixed bag. Catherine Malfitano does a very good job, refraining most of the time from her usual weird facial expressions, thus managing to be convincing (but she doesn't look as pretty as when she was younger). Gregory Yurisich is also very good. José Carreras is his usual self: a better singer than an actor. Robin Legatte is a very, very bad actor. The others are unremarkable.

Finally, the singing. The best singer in the mix is by far the baritone, Gregory Yurisich, who doesn't miss a beat, has an impressive voice, and delivers it with dramatic intensity and good phrasing. Just as good is the bass, Gwynne Howell, but unfortunately he doesn't have many lines other than opening the opera with a gorgeous aria - he only comes back for not much more than short recitatives. Again, Robin Legatte is just as weak as a singer as he is as an actor, and is clear the outlyer in this otherwise fine cast. The brief singing lines for Federico allow Lynton Atkinson to show promise, and Dorotea is such a minor character that I don't even remember Adele Paxton's singing.

Now, the two principals. Catherine Malfitano has a difficult night in this live recording. She starts a little hoarse, and even though she gets rid of it pretty fast after she warms up, during the entire first act she seems to lack volume. She does improve significantly in the second and third act, and overall she pulls it off and delivers a fine performance.

José Carreras is clearly past his prime. His voice had darkened by 1993 (five years after the leukemia) and he visibly struggles both with the high and the low ends of his register. He is often too loud, not subtle, and his high notes are strained. We don't see his lyric sumptuousness of earlier recordings (such as my Don Carlo DVD with him conducted by Karajan in 1986, two years before the leukemia). Still, in the middle of his range he remains capable of singing beautifully, and the vocal writing here does keep most of his lines in the middle so the overall result is more than decent. The thing with his performance here is that he is his own rival. Because we know how good he used to be, we feel the difference and notice the problems. But if we didn't have his own self at his peak to compare, we'd say that what he does in this Stiffelio is still remarkable.

Verdict: recommended.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 2nd, 2012, 12:37 AM
Verdi: I Due Foscari on DVD
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2000(LI) - Nello Santi - Orchestra del Teatro di San Carlo (Naples)
Leo Nucci (Francesco Foscari), Vincenzo La Scola (Jacopo Foscari), Alexandrina Pendatchanska (Lucrezia Contarini)
Run time 114 minutes
Image 1.78:1, excellent color and definition
Sound PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, or DTS 5.1; full, clear, good balance, but there's a bit of ambiance noise.
Subtitles in several languages, extras include trailers of other TDK releases

It's a gorgeous, beautiful theater, and we're treated to views of its exterior and interior during the opening credits.

Traditional staging with gloomy (but stylish and beautiful) sets, appropriate to the mood of this rather somber opera.

Acting is of the park-and-bark kind.

I don't like Pendatchanska's voice at all, its timbre is not beautiful, and her vibrato is wide, unpleasant, too insistent. She is generally too loud and shrieky throughout the opera. She is not good-looking either. I think she pretty much ruins this production. Vincenzo La Scola is nothing to write home about, either, but not as bad as Pendatchanska. Leo Nucci, on the other hand, delivers an impressive performance, portraying accurately the tired old Doge, and saves this DVD, especially when annoying Pendatchanska is not on stage.

The orchestra seems to do well under Nello Santi, a Verdi specialist, but there are cuts that are hard to justify since even when complete, this is not a long opera. The cuts are such that parts of the plot are hard to understand if one doesn't read a synopsis of the complete story.

The chorus performs impressively, and the box under sliding panels from which they sing is ingenuous.

The opera itself is very far from being among my Verdi favorites. The Maestro himself didn't like it very much, with good reason in my opinion. Its pace is faulty, its subject matter is not compelling, its too bleak, nothing really happens except loss, grief, despair. The music has its moments but most of the time is rather unremarkable.

I'd only recommend this DVD to Leo Nucci's fans. The unpleasant soprano makes of it a product that I won't be watching again. I don't understand some Amazon.com customers; many have praised her performance. I guess they have no clue about what constitutes a good soprano.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 2nd, 2012, 12:38 AM
Verdi: Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio on DVD
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This is Verdi's very first opera, premiered when he was barely 26.
It is still composed in the Bel Canto style, with clear separation between arias and recitatives. It reminds me of Donizetti's serious operas.

One can sense Verdi's genius already in the beautiful overture, and the beautiful opening with a chorus. Then it becomes a lot more conventional. It is obviously not one of his best works, but I find it good enough, with some beautiful moments - especially strong are the finales for each of the two acts.

The plot is a bit over-the-top. Oberto's daughter Leonora has been seduced and abandoned by Riccardo, who is about to marry Cuniza. Oberto and Leonora go to Cuniza and tell her about her fiancé's infidelity. She confronts Riccardo who insults Leonora, prompting Oberto to defy him for a duel. Cuniza however is able to persuade Riccardo that he actually does love Leonora and should marry her. He agrees. Therefore there is no more need for a duel. However Oberto can't control his desire for revenge and insists on dueling Riccardo, in spite of Leonora's, Riccardo's, and Cuniza's pleas that all is well and marriage will restore Leonora's honor. Oberto goes ahead with his duel plans anyway, then Riccardo kills him. Leonora is mortified, which prompts Riccardo to exile himself and leave his fortune to Leonora. She refuses, performs a mad scene, and kills herself. Curtain. OK, this is opera, folks, but this libretto does stretch the necessary suspension of disbelief.

The product is an Opus Arte DVD, competently done as usual. Definition of the 16:9 image is very good however the lighting is very dark. Sound tracks are excellent and well balanced, provided in linear PCM stereo or DTS 5.1. Optional subtitles are provided in five languages including original Italian. Extras include an illustrated synopsis, a cast gallery, and interviews with the conductor and the stage director. The insert includes a track list with characters and duration of each track, and an essay on the opera and its context.

This is a live composite recording over two evenings, in January of 2007.
Yves Abel conducts the Orquesta Sinfónica del Principade de Asturias, and the Chorus of Ópera de Bilbao. Orchestra/conductor and chorus do a good job.

Singers include Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role - an adequate bass that sings well but is not spectacular (something that is generally true for the other singers as well). Evelyn Herlitzius is Leonora, Carlo Ventre is Riccardo, Marianne Cornetti is Cuniza, and Nuria Loranzo is in the minor role of Imelda, Cuniza's confident (and is the only good looking one of the the three females). Singing improves in the second act and is quite good in the final scene. Acting is not particularly convincing. No eye candy either - the mezzo singing Cuniza is particularly unconvincing in the matter of looks, too old for the role.

Staging is by Ignacio García, in traditional costumes and setting, and is neither imaginative, nor visually appealing, in addition to being too dark.

I wouldn't recommend this one except to Verdi fans who want to be complete in terms of owning his operas on visual media, since this product is the only DVD alternative. It's not bad, but it is not thrilling either, so it is not an obligatory purchase.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 2nd, 2012, 12:39 AM
Verdi: Otello on DVD
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I'm really disappointed in this production. I don't even feel like posting a full review. I was expecting a lot more of Vickers, Freni, and Glossop, as well as of Karajan, and even the Berliner Philharmoniker.

I think there was stock acting. Scenarios and film direction don't match Zefirelli's.

The Otello and Iago pair is unconvincing in Vickers and Glossop - the former is melodramatic, the latter not scary and evil enough.

Singing is of course good, but the poor acting keeps bothering me. Freni did better than the males.

I don't understand the praise for this version. I thought it lacked energy, engagement, commitment.

One of my very favorite operas was performed in a bland, meh kind of way.

It's gotta be something wrong with me since this gathers such generalized praise.

But I didn't like it.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 2nd, 2012, 12:40 AM
Verdi: La Forza del Destino on DVD
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I won't post a full review of this one (1978, Teatro alla Scala), I'm getting tired after a full day of opera.

Running time 192', region zero, picture format 4:3 NTSC, subtitles in Italian, English, French, and Spanish.

Suffice to say that it is a formidable musical performance with Caballé in her prime and Carreras pre-leukemia, good orchestra, good conductor (Carlo Rizzi). The singing is just exquisite and since the sound track is very decent (PCM mono, but also DD 5.1 and DTS 5.1), it is precious to have as a historical document a DVD of Caballé with good sound and in her prime (her recordings tend to be either with poor technical quality, or if with good quality, after her voice decline). This in itself justifies the purchase of this product. Very young Carreras sings beautifully as well.

The staging however is dark, unappealing, and the acting is of the park and bark modality.

So, it's a DVD to listen to rather than to watch, but the quality of the singers is such that one cannot refrain from recommending this one.

Edit - I'm finishing this now, and I must confess that my preference for visual media often limits my operatic pleasure because it's been a long time since I've listened to singing this good (which is more commonly found in hallmark audio recordings). Montserrat Caballe is an angel. Oh! My! God! It's quite incredible, and since Carreras is not far behind and the supporting cast is equally good, this is really superlative singing. I'm also reminded of how good this Verdi opera is, with the recurrent instrumental leitmotif. Superb!

I'm changing my verdict to "highly recommended" - poor staging/acting or not.

Edit 2 - Annie has reminded me of an interesting aspect: how acutely conscious of the changes in operatic staging/singing we get when we watch something like this from 1978 in terms of what we expect from stage directors and singers. These days, this opera would have been staged with modern techniques, good lighting, and visually striking scenarios, with good actors as singers, but someone like Montserrat Caballé might not make it due to her looks. Although, you know, one should probably say that she wouldn't make it if her voice wasn't so extraordinary because even today a plain looking obese woman which such a spectacular voice might still make it, but she'd at least have a lot more trouble imposing herself.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 2nd, 2012, 12:41 AM
Verdi; Macbeth on DVD
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So I'm watching another version of one of my very favorite Verdi operas, one I think is slightly under-rated as not as great as the wonders that came after it, but I like it just fine.

This is Glyndebourne, therefore should be good. I'm saying it before watching it, and I stand behind what I'm saying. Have I ever seen an opera staged at Glyndebourne that wasn't done at least correctly? I don't think so.

I'd say that Glyndebourne is the most consistent opera festival / opera house of all time, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra is also under-rated - it isn't the most brilliant of all forces, but it *never* disappoints. Glyndebourne/LPO = guaranteed quality.

ArtHaus Musik product (another indication of quality) with very good sound balance and clarity although the only choice is PCM stereo. The sound is so good that you don't believe it is old and stereo only. Optional subtitles in English, German, French, and Spanish. No Italian, though. Running time 126 minutes.

This is an old staging. 1972, live. So, no wonder the image is not the greatest. Format is 1.33:1. Lighting and scenarios are appropriately dark and atmospheric. Image is not as sharp as we're used to in modern times, but is OK.

John Pritchard leads the LPO with aplomb. The musical aspects are very satisfactory.

Acting is not very dynamic. You know, when you watch a staging from 1972 you need to understand what people wanted and presented, those days. For 1972, the acting is OK.

Nice spooky witches, the way I like them.

Josephine Barstow is Lady Macbeth - shrill, not my favorite Lady Macbeth in the least. Doesn't look good either. I'm afraid she'll sink this thing.

Kostas Paskalis is Macbeth. Stiff acting, good singing.

A young James Morris is Banquo. Good.

Keith Erwen is MacDuff. Good.

Oh well. I think Barstow *will* ruin this thing for me. Maybe I spoke too soon when I praised every and all Glyndebourne stagings.

I'll reserve judgment for now, watch some more, and will be back with a more consistent verdict.

----

OK, final verdict: recommended, with redeeming qualities, but not highly recommended due to a weak Lady Macbeth.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 2nd, 2012, 12:43 AM
Verdi: Giovanna d'Arco on DVD, recorded from TV
I saw this on TV Parma, live from the Teatro Regio di Parma, during the Verdi Festival of 2008 (October 7, 2008). Bruno Bartoletti conducts the theater's local orchestra.

Giovanna is Svetla Vassileva. Carlo VII is Evan Bowers. Giacomo is Renato Bruson. Delil is Luigi Petroni. Talbot is Maurizio Lo Piccolo. Subtitles are in Italian only. Mediocre image, sound is better but has a light hiss at first, then stabilizes.

Giovanna d'Arco is a dramma lirico in a prologue and three acts, music by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Temistocle Solera, sung in Italian, based on Schiller's play Die Jungfrau von Orleans.

It's Verdi's seventh opera, and premiered at La Scala February 15, 1845. It's set in 1429 in Domrémy, Rheims, and near Rouen, France. It is considered by many to be Verdi's least successful opera, with conventional music and theatricality problems.

The performance opens with the Italian anthem, and then the somewhat anemic, militaristic style overture plays. This gets us to a fairly beautiful chorus - we know how Verdi is good at this.

Staging by Gabriele Lavia with scenarios by Alessandro Camera is traditional, with period costumes, rather elaborate and elegant. In the initial scenes it's all in red, then turns all blue, etc. It is beautiful, sober, and very effective with numerous successful effects of light and shadow, interesting costumes, strange creatures, atmospheric settings. It is the strongest part of this production.

Evan Bowers as Carlo VII, king of France, is a generic tenor and his acting is not very 'royal.' Vassileva is clearly overwhelmed, and her voice is not dramatic enough for the musically demanding role of Giovanna. It's a poor casting choice. Since she doesn't have what it takes, she becomes strident, especially in Act II. Funny enough, she does look attractive, which again is not the point when portraying the Maid of Orléans who should be a bit boyish and ferocious, not exactly the most feminine character in history.

http://www.seattleopera.org/_images/bios/svetla_vassileva.jpghttp://www.sistemamusica.it/2006/gennaio/img/Svetla.jpghttp://www.tgcom.mediaset.it/bin/268.$plit/C_0_articolo_428729_immagine.jpg

Here she's got short hair and looks even more lovely.

Bruson as Giacomo has an unpleasant wobble and is nasal. On the other hand he is a good actor with impressive dramatic range, and gets to compensate this way for his aging voice, to the point that he gets applause from the public in spite of less than ideal singing.

Bruno Bartoletti does an excellent job with precise tempo and energy. The chorus does well.

So this is a weird production: it is visually very pleasing, and features a leading lady who has a very attractive face. There is a good conductor, good stage direction, and some good acting.

The problem is the singing! How can I recommend an opera production in which mostly everything else clicks, but the singing sinks the ship? We'd rather have the leading lady lip-sync to someone else's voice, since she's really good looking. As it is, however, with her voice struggling through the wrong tessitura, it's rather unbearable.

Not recommended.

A word about the opera itself. Yes, it's not among the best Verdi operas but it isn't terrible. It's still Verdi. A minor Verdi but a Verdi nevertheless, so I don't think it is as bad as its reputation. Had it been composed by some more junior composer, people would probably find it to be a decent effort. It's because we know that Il Maestro could do so much better that this one pales in comparison. But then, I love Verdi, others who aren't as fond of him may disagree.

I think the problems are more related to the libretto than to the music. It loses pace, it gets too long, there's all this business of Giovanna won, no, she lost, she's in jail and is headed to the stake, no, she won again, she's dead, no, she came back to life, no, she's dead again, no, she's ascending to Heaven. Whew! Just kill the wench already!

And yes, the orchestration gets to be a bit monotonous, but maybe Il Maestro was equally bored with the libretto.

Soave_Fanciulla
January 3rd, 2012, 03:53 AM
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A well-sung version of this rousing early Verdi opera. Samuel Ramey is outstanding in the title role, and Cheryl Studer does pretty well as Odabella, if a little unconvincing as a warrior maiden. The sets and costumes are luscious but the staging is utterly stultifying, in fact the most exciting thing about it is Ramey's bare chest:D; otherwise it's all park and bark. But there's not a lot of choice in DVDs of this opera so I'd still recommend it.

Soave_Fanciulla
January 3rd, 2012, 03:59 AM
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I don't know any really good version of Macbeth. This one has the excellent Shirley Verrett, the adequate if slightly constipated looking Leo Nucci, a couple of actors synching to Sam Ramey and Verriano Lucchetti, some atmospheric Belgian dungeons, marshes, caves and some severely creepy feral wolf-children witches. The problem is partly Verdi's - the music for the witches is so relentlessly up-beat and jolly that you'd really want them in sugar-hued cocktail dresses to match, whereas blue-tinted monkey-women crawling around the rocks and cannibalising rotting corpses don't really fit...

Actually I had more fun watching the accompanying "making-of" doco, with the chain-smoking Francophone director alternately snarling about missing cellphones and the method-acting bit-part thespian playing Macduff, and the next minute coaxing Shirley Verrett (who just managed to keep a straight face) into tugging on Nucci's sword as though she is pleasuring him sexually.

Soave_Fanciulla
January 3rd, 2012, 04:01 AM
Otello from the Liceu

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This production was directed by Willy Decker, the guy who gave us the Salzburg Traviata. Here we have the same minimalist sets, but the dominant symbol is a cross. The chorus carries it around, Iago sneers at it, Desdemona prays to it & goes to sleep on it, and Otello eventually breaks it in half.

Cura, as is often the case, doesn't have the technique or beauty of tone for the romantic arias (definitely missed PD for "Già nella notte densa"), but he comes into his own when he portrays Otello's slow descent into madness. This is a frightening but also weak Otello, prone to epileptic fits and a clear outsider in the Venetian populace he has been set to rule. I'd be terrified to be married to him. You can see how much this role took out of Cura at the curtain call, when he stands like a stunned mullet hugging his co-star.

Krassimira Stoyanova is moving as Desdemona and, as always, sounds lovely, but Lado Ataneli was a little weak as Iago. I like my Iagos Really Evil http://www.clicksmilies.com/s1106/teufel/devil-smiley-040.gif. Vittorio Grigolo as Cassio does his usual hot young buck performance. His singing is accomplished, but is it just me or does anyone else find his singing irritatingly monochromatic?

Soave_Fanciulla
January 3rd, 2012, 04:04 AM
Some good solid traditional fare:

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(chosen because I love Domingo and am not keen on Pavarotti, both from a voice and acting point of view). It’s a very faithful and opulent production, in the original Swedish setting, and sung with conviction if not great originality by the leads. I realised when I watched it that, fundamentally, Domingo always plays Domingo, he’s not very subtle. There’s heroic Domingo, anguished Domingo, ardent Domingo and lovable Domingo, and that's it. But I still love listening to him. And I got the impression it might have been under-rehearsed from a staging point of view, particularly in an unintentionally funny moment when Barstow, avowing her guilty love, flings herself enthusiastically at him and he looks astonished and staggers a little. But it is an attractive rendition of the opera, with lovely music and beautiful costumes.

Soave_Fanciulla
January 3rd, 2012, 04:07 AM
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Not my favourite Traviata - I dislike the heavy-handed symbolism, and some scenes are terrible: the party at Anina's is just too brutal, those weird bull people shoving Alfredo round and then Alfredo stuffing money down Violetta's dress.

I feel that it's pretty much sustained by the chemistry between the two leads. Netrebko plays Violetta as a woman past the point of caring, knowing that time is running out, but suddenly allowing herself to fall in love with the callow and inexperienced Alfredo. I think she's wonderful here and I love that dark Russian tinge to her voice. And of course she is at the height of her beauty in the famous Little Red Dress.

Soave_Fanciulla
January 3rd, 2012, 04:11 AM
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Was intrigued to watch this after another member put it at the top of his favourite opera list.

There are some lovely melodies, dramatic moments and a rather brutal story which ostensibly revolves around the liberation of Sicily from the French, but which I saw as being more about a relationship between father and estranged son (hey, it's Verdi, there has to be something about Dad in there).

La Scala have put on a totally traditional production, with a genuinely Sicilian feel (and the lighting technicians are back on the job after the deeply murky Donna del Lago). The singing is above reproach, performed by luminaries such as Furlanetto, Zancanaro and Studer. The romantic leads are rather physically unattractive (there's a hilarious near-kiss where you don't know who is more reluctant to actually get to the clinch) but the love story is not as central here as in other operas so it doesn't matter too much.

Just make sure you fast forward through the interminable ballet:rolleyes: which completely interrupts the action for about 20 minutes.

Aksel
January 5th, 2012, 05:40 PM
So, I've been planning to write this thing for a while now, but I've somehow never gotten around to it. But now I have!
It is a review of the Teatro Verdi di Busseto production of Falstaff.

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The plot, for those not familiar with it, can be found here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falstaff_%28opera%29).


The staging is very traditional. It is a reproduction of a production done at Teatro Verdi in 1913. It's also very small, which I think fits this opera very well. The sets are gorgeous, light and open, which is good since I find other traditional stagings of this opera a bit stuffy and dark. Also, it's an impressive feat since the stage is so small. When all the chorus and the soloists are onstage, it seems stuffed, but it does add to the intimate mood of the opera. The costumes are glorious, especially Falstaff's formal attire in the second act.

The conducting is done by Riccardo Muti and he does a fine job. The tempi seem very natural and I think Maestro Muti is one of the greatest conductors of this opera that exist on record.
I especially adore how he manages to turn the duet scenes between Fenton and Nannetta into oases of calm and tender love in between all the chaos of the wooed wives, jealous husbands and hunky knights.
The orchestra is also brilliant.

Now on to the singing.

The fat knight/mountain of lard (best line of the opera)/whale beached on the shore of Windsor is sung by Ambrogio Maestri, and he does a fine job indeed. He is funny and seems to fit the role of Falstaff, ultimate Shakespeare hunk so easily. He also sings the honour monologue very well and his acting is great. The beginning of the first scene with Ernesto Gavazzi's Doctor Cajus is quite frankly hilarious.
I kind of picture Doctor Cajus as a Lemming in that scene, storming into the Garter Inn in a rage without being really able to do anything, and Gavazzi does that almost perfectly.

Roberto Frontali's Ford is also amazing. Especially his aria in the second act. He certainly helps get the first scene of the second act along. I find it has a tendency to drag on after Mrs. Quickly leaves and Brook enters.

Bardolfo and Pistola, Falstaff's henchmen (at least in the beginning) are brilliantly sung by Paolo Barbacini and Luigi Roni respectively. They are hilarious, both in their acting and in their singing, especially Barbacini's Bardolfo, who has a voice that is perfectly suited for singing that kind of role.

The young tenor love interest of the opera (Doctor Cajus being the old tenor love interest), Fenton is played by Juan Diego Flórez, and he does it, unsurprisingly, beautifully.

As Nannetta, the object of Fenton and Doctor Cajus' attentions, there is Inva Mula, who sings the part seemingly effortlessly and very beautifully. She especially shines in her duets with JDF's Fenton.

The merry wives of Windsor are led by Barbara Frittoli's Alice Ford with Anna Caterina Antonacci's Meg Page and Bernadette Manca di Nissa's Mrs. Quickly. Especially di Nissa's Mrs. Quickly is excellent with her dark timbre being perfect for the older slightly maternal neighbour.

Now, the merry wives lead us on to a word or two about the ensembles. For those not in the know, Falstaff is a seemingly endless string of glorious, glorious ensembles; a quartet here, a quintet there, and before you know it, it's turned into a nonet. The opera contains only about four arias (Falstaff's honour monologue, Ford's jealousy aria (it's what it's called. Promise), Falstaff's aria at the beginning of the third act and Nannetta's fairy song), but it contains at least as many ensemble numbers.
Some of these are fiendishly difficult, like the act 1 nonet where the singers not only have different texts to sing, but they also sing it in different times. The five men sing in 4/4 and the four women sing in 6/8. The ensembles are also, at least in my opinion, what makes this opera so funny. With the Ford and Dr. Cajus' lemming-like rage and the women's chattering, hen-like scheming. The cast here does an amazing job indeed with these ensembles. Especially the women. I would have liked some more clarity in the men's ensembles.
But perhaps the most impressive of all the ensembles is the 10-or-so-part fugue that ends it all. In all its dense formality, it's really a thing of genuine comedy.


And so I say to you all, that if you haven't seen this this production of Falstaff, you should go do so as soon as possible. It's amazing.

Aksel
January 5th, 2012, 05:41 PM
So I just watched Verdi's Macbeth and I have the following to say about it:

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For anyone wondering about the plot, click here (http://www.amazon.com/Verdi-Macbeth-Metropolitan-Opera-Live/dp/B001D6OKUQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1296950751&sr=8-1-spell).

I really liked the staging and the updating of the plot. I though it showed the link between Macbeth's usurping of the throne in 11th century Scotland and the dictators of the 20th. The witches as 1950's women clutching their handbags were a nice touch, although I though the whole spinning-around-gyrating-pelvises thing a tad too much. I also found the "flow" in the first two acts to be a bit lacking, but it worked. A thing I really, really liked, was the sleepwalking scene, in which Lady Macbeth confesses her and her husband's crimes. In this production, she is standing on the remains of her now rather torn-apart kingdom, the chairs from the ball-room scene of the 2nd act, and the witches are all putting one chair in front of the other while Lady Macbeth walks on them, finally walking down and losing her kingdom when she starts to sing. It is a rather obvious touch, I admit, but I liked it.


Singing-wise, it's a bit of both worlds.
Zeljko Lucic sings Macbeth rather well. His voice was secure and is well-suited for the part, but I did not find his performance especially extraordinary. Very good, but not great. But his acting was very good.

Lady Macbeth, sung by Maria Guleghina is truly one of the most challenging roles in the whole repertory, and it requires a whole lot of the soprano; she needs to have good high notes, good low notes and some kick-*** coloratura skills to boot. Sadly, Ms. Guleghina does not have all these skills. Her coloratura did leave me rather wanting, and some of the more demanding passages seemed more like they were glissando than the almost euporic screams of a increasingly mad, not to mention blood-thirsty queen-in-waiting. In addition, some of the high notes required a bit too much "stepping into", as it were. The role of Lady Macbeth was meant to be shouted, but I think there are more effective ways of achieving that rather than skipping coloratura. But apart from this (and I do admit that this might seem like a lot, but bear with me), I do think that she does do a very wonderful job. And all of the crazy positions she is singing from certainly do complicate things. Her acting performance is utterly wonderful, and it does, to a very large extent, make up for her somewhat lacking vocal performance.
(Yes, I know it's long, but I do think Lady Macbeth is the most important role of the whole opera, and the one performance of this production with the most things to say about it)

Banquo was superbly sung by John Relyea. His singing was very good, and his acting was great. Really one of the, if not the best singing of the whole production.

Macduff was sung by Dimtri Pittas, rather well, although I didn't really care for his voice. Another thing that bothered me about his performance was the fact that his face in the final scene, when he was supposed to be all sad, his only facial expression was that of a five-year old boy hearing his hamster has been drowned.
(As a side note, Macduff's confession in that very scene; how's that for a plot twist, or what?)

Both the MET orchestra under James Levine and the chorus were spectacular.

Aramis
January 21st, 2012, 07:23 PM
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Not greatly in love with Te Kanawa in title role but it's overally very good recording. Not that Kiri would be somehow terrible here, it's just I couldn't connect her voice with Violetta in first act, my fault perhaps. She sings very well though. But this performance is all for male characters - Kraus gives one of most impressing examples of well preserved voice. Few high notes didn't sound as easy and clear as when he was younger but that's all, other than that his Alfredo here is beyond most of other tenor's abilities when they are on their prime. Hvorostovsky could be son of Kraus and Te Kanawa but don't think about it and he will be most fitting older Germont. The orchestral score is very well executed.

Aramis
January 24th, 2012, 06:51 PM
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I don't think I need to praise Verdi, Pavarotti or Gruberova, not even Wixell. Everybody knows Verdi writes great operas (not always though) and these three sing them wonderfully. And that Chailly supports them properly.

But Ponnelle. What a brillance. The third act is all visual masterpiece hardly to be matched with any other non-Ponnelle movie version of opera. Since the storm begins you get the peak of what can be done with visual side of the work to enrich the musical experience as much as possible. The lights when Gilda enters and gets killed, also the scenes of argument between bandit couple with her listening to it outside and contemplating her sacrifice. And finally the scene on the river during gray, sombre dawn.

Take away Ponnelle's DVDs and the invention of filming won't be of great worth in terms of opera anymore.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 25th, 2012, 04:13 AM
Yes, this is a great version, Aramis. I totally agree with you.

Aramis
January 25th, 2012, 06:47 PM
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Rigoletto Met Levine. They met in the bar they drive a car.

Some say Domingo doesn't fit the role. That Duca is not for his voice because it's more for "bel cantists". I'm not sure, if he sung Bellini and Donizetti, why wouldn't he make it for earlier Verdi? I didn't notice any stretching and no part made him sound out of place. Actually, I think he fits the role very well because of his voice timbre and presence. I was entirely conviced by his creation. Cotrubas is great Gilda, she had to play "pure" girl and how could she fail with her pure, heavenly voice? Finally MacNeil - splendid voice (which doesn't spoil character's meritum, Rigoletto doesn't have to sound creepy) and very proper appearance. Hear this ending sung powerfully and with strong dramatic gesture:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqGdLtRJIDs

The only flaw I can think of is occasionally bad sound from orchestra, but I suspect it may be more because of recording than the actual performance. Sometimes it doesn't sound full and clear enough, especially it striked me on the beginning (festive music).

Overally it's great DVD with all-magnificent cast of singers and very solid staging. Recommended for all who enjoy this work even a little bit (it will make them enjoy it a greater little bit).

Dark_Angel
January 25th, 2012, 09:14 PM
Some say Domingo doesn't fit the role. That Duca is not for his voice because it's more for "bel cantists". I'm not sure, if he sung Bellini and Donizetti, why wouldn't he make it for earlier Verdi? I didn't notice any stretching and no part made him sound out of place. Actually, I think he fits the role very well because of his voice timbre and presence. I was entirely conviced by his creation. Cotrubas is great Gilda, she had to play "pure" girl and how could she fail with her pure, heavenly voice? Finally MacNail - splendid voice (which doesn't spoil character's meritum, Rigoletto doesn't have to sound creepy) and very proper appearance. Hear this ending sung powerfully and with strong dramatic gesture:

The only flaw I can think of is occasionally bad sound from orchestra, but I suspect it may be more because of recording than the actual performance. Sometimes it doesn't sound full and clear enough, especially it striked me on the beginning (festive music).

Overally it's great DVD with all-magnificent cast of singers and very solid staging. Recommended for all who enjoy this work even a little bit (it will make them enjoy it a greater little bit).

Yes that is classic MET material, quality all the way in every aspect.........and I agree 100% that Cotrubas is a near perfect Gilda, the naive innocent who pays for the sins of others

Aramis
January 27th, 2012, 10:48 PM
Okay, now I'm really pissed off. Why nobody told me there is Falstaff with Flórez? Why, at first place, his official site didn't tell me? There is nothing about this position in his DVD discography.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 28th, 2012, 12:06 AM
Aramis, if we ever get a face-to-face interview with JDF, we'll need a fund raiser to pay for your ticket and fly you in from Poland to conduct the interview!

Do you plan on writing your first opera with vocal lines that are made for him?

HarpsichordConcerto
January 28th, 2012, 12:16 AM
The only flaw I can think of is occasionally bad sound from orchestra, but I suspect it may be more because of recording than the actual performance. Sometimes it doesn't sound full and clear enough, especially it striked me on the beginning (festive music).


I agree. It has that "1980's recorded live sound" feel. But otherwise an excellent production. I like these traditional staging that don't leave us guessing what the hell just happened.

Aramis
January 28th, 2012, 12:29 AM
Aramis, if we ever get a face-to-face interview with JDF, we'll need a fund raiser to pay for your ticket and fly you in from Poland to conduct the interview!

Or I'll just rob the bank. After they catch me, I shall have alibi because one of interview's questions will be "what do you think I did yesterday?" and Flórez certainly will give diffrent answer than "you robbed bank to get cash for tickets, I'm sure".


Do you plan on writing your first opera with vocal lines that are made for him?

Certainly, I mean: if I want to be XXIst century Bellini, shouldn't I write for XXIst century Rubini? But that's just fantasy, if I'll ever write first opera it probably will not be performed at all or performed by mediocre crew and before provincial audience.

Soave_Fanciulla
January 28th, 2012, 01:27 AM
Certainly, I mean: if I want to be XXIst century Bellini, shouldn't I write for XXIst century Rubini? But that's just fantasy, if I'll ever write first opera it probably will not be performed at all or performed by mediocre crew and before provincial audience.

A world audience Aramis, we'll fly in from four corners of the globe as long as you promise to sing in it.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 28th, 2012, 01:34 AM
A world audience Aramis, we'll fly in from four corners of the globe as long as you promise to sing in it.

A world audience Aramis, we'll fly in from four corners of the globe as long as you promise *not* to sing in it.

Dark_Angel
February 29th, 2012, 06:41 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61WDTZghKvL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000069DQD/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51wuPeNFjuL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000002RY8/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

Was finally able to get the Gheorghiu/Alagna Trovatore used from UK vendor.......its OK put I was expecting a bit more from these two stars in thier prime vocal era, Papano delivers orchestrally so not a lost cause, just not great overall

Callas on the other hand is the greatest Leonora I have heard, 1956 studio recording in very good mono sound. Everytime I hear this performance it reveals intricate vocal details and emotion insight that completely elude even the best singers, Stephano is a virile bold Manrico that is perfect match for Maria, what a pair in thier prime, this is one of the great Verdi opera recordings

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
March 1st, 2012, 05:08 AM
Was finally able to get the Gheorghiu/Alagna Trovatore used from UK vendor.......its OK put I was expecting a bit more from these two stars in thier prime vocal era, Papano delivers orchestrally so not a lost cause, just not great overall

Callas on the other hand is the greatest Leonora I have heard, 1956 studio recording in very good mono sound. Everytime I hear this performance it reveals intricate vocal details and emotion insight that completely elude even the best singers, Stephano is a virile bold Manrico that is perfect match for Maria, what a pair in thier prime, this is one of the great Verdi opera recordings

Here is my opinion of Roberto Alagna: pretty nice guy. Someone I'd love to have a cup of wine with over some nice food. He seems to be just cool and friendly. He needs to put up with a bitchy wife, he's gotta be very patient and laid back. As a singer: *capable* of reaching some strikingly good performances, but *as a rule*, *most of the time*, not that good. Seems to not always try hard.

Angela Gheorghiu: outstanding singer. One of the few sopranos in her generation who actually can compete with some of the greats of the past in terms of vocal technique. As a rule, most of the time, very good. But always seems to be trying too hard and to be too self-absorbed in some ego trip. *Not* someone I'd like to gave a cup of wine with.

Callas: Don't even talk to me about any flaws. For all practical purposes, she was perfect. I don't think I'd stop at having a cup of wine with her. I'd marry her today, if she were still alive and wanted me.

So this is pretty much how I'd approach these recordings. Call it the Almaviva method for gauging singers.:biggrin:

Dark_Angel
March 1st, 2012, 12:51 PM
Here is my opinion of Roberto Alagna: pretty nice guy. Someone I'd love to have a cup of wine with over some nice food. He seems to be just cool and friendly. He needs to put up with a bitchy wife, he's gotta be very patient and laid back. As a singer: *capable* of reaching some strikingly good performances, but *as a rule*, *most of the time*, not that good. Seems to not always try hard.

Angela Gheorghiu: outstanding singer. One of the few sopranos in her generation who actually can compete with some of the greats of the past in terms of vocal technique. As a rule, most of the time, very good. But always seems to be trying too hard and to be too self-absorbed in some ego trip. *Not* someone I'd like to gave a cup of wine with.

Callas: Don't even talk to me about any flaws. For all practical purposes, she was perfect. I don't think I'd stop at having a cup of wine with her. I'd marry her today, if she were still alive and wanted me.

So this is pretty much how I'd approach these recordings. Call it the Almaviva method for gauging singers.:biggrin:

Oh no, now you are really in trouble cruel one.....Anna wants a word with you

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-c2B5dXzpXZE/TZ7CPnPCweI/AAAAAAAAJ8g/BrkmzSD7txw/s400/ANNA%2BBOLENA%2B%25288%2529.jpg

Aramis
March 1st, 2012, 01:20 PM
Call it the Almaviva method for gauging singers.:biggrin:

Almaviva's? I used it long before you hatched from egg.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
March 1st, 2012, 05:05 PM
Oh no, now you are really in trouble cruel one.....Anna wants a word with you

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-c2B5dXzpXZE/TZ7CPnPCweI/AAAAAAAAJ8g/BrkmzSD7txw/s400/ANNA%2BBOLENA%2B%288%29.jpg

Oh no, Anna would still be a more senior wife. I practice soprano poligamy (it's a new religion I've created).

jflatter
March 1st, 2012, 07:56 PM
I quite like the Pappano recording Trovatore. The main let down for is Hampson as the Count. I think it is one of Draculette's best recordings. Again though, I don't remember her doing this role on stage which is like Butterfly and if I recall an Aida is the pipeline.

HarpsichordConcerto
March 5th, 2012, 09:44 AM
An adequate but not great Verdi collection of five operas plus one gala; fitting present for the mother-in-law (or to be).

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41tsYrlM83L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Five operas: (1) Nabucco (2) Ernani (3) Il Coraso (4) I Vespri Siciliani (5) La Forza del Destino (6) Verdi Gala

Adequate productions by all accounts from Dynamic featuring five of Verdi's operas. All staging were traditional in spirit but modern in mood. Most singers were well accomplished as were the orchestras. The weakest was probably the recorded sound with La Forza. The strongest out of the lot was Nabucco. The Verdi gala (disc #6) was enjoyable featuring numbers from different operas. What the hell, it was not expensive at all.


(1) Nabucco
Live recorded at Teatro Carlo Felice of Genoa in June 2004. Subtitles: IT/EN/FR/DE/ES/JP/ZH - 140 min. Alberto Gazale, Susan Neves, Orlin Anastassov & Yasuharu Nakajima. Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova, Riccardo Frizza (conductor) & Jonathan Miller (director)

(2) Ernani
Live recorded at Teatro Regio of Parma in May 2005. Subtitles: IT/EN/FR/DE/ES - 126 min. Marco Berti, Susan Neves, Giacomo Prestia & Carlo Guelfi. Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Regio di Parma, Antonello Allemandi (conductor) & Pier‘Alli (director)

(3) Il Corsaro
Live recorded at Teatro Regio of Parma in June 2004. Subtitles: IT/EN/FR/DE/ES/JP/ZH - 107 min. Zvetan Michailov, Renato Bruson, Michela Sburlati & Adriana Damato. Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Regio di Parma, Renato Palumbo (conductor) & Lamberto Puggelli (director)

(4) I Vespri Siciliani
Live recorded at Teatro Verdi of Busseto in February 2003. Subtitles: IT/EN/FR/DE/ES - 159 min. Amarilli Nizza, Vladimir Stoyanov, Renzo Zulian & Orlin Anastassov. Orchestra and Chorus of Fondazione Arturo Toscanini - Balletto del Teatro di Torino, Stefano Ranzani (conductor) & Pier Luigi Pizzi (director)

(5) La forza del destino
Live recorded at Teatro Comunale of Modena in January 2006. Subtitles: IT/EN/FR/DE/ES - 181 min. Susanna Branchini, Renzo Zulian, Marco Di Felice, Paolo Battaglia Tiziana Carraro & Paolo Rumetz. Orchestra Filarmonia Veneta “G. F. Malipiero” Chorus of Teatro Sociale di Rovigo, Lukas Karytinos (conductor) & Pier Francesco Maestrini (director)

(6) plus a Verdi Gala featuring José Cura, Leo Nucci, Tiziana Fabbricini, Zvetan Michailov, Vladimir Stoyanov Adriana Damato, Alessandra Rezza, Valter Borin & Franco De Grandis

Dark_Angel
March 10th, 2012, 09:27 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71lInzeutTL._AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/B0000041YI/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_0?ie=UTF8&index=0)http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61YyVGpM9CL._AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/B0000041RB/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_1?ie=UTF8&index=1)

Pavarotti sings Trovatore (Manrico) comparing the 1990 Mehta vs 1976 Bonynge......

Luciano had a long singing career where he could sing at a very high skill level, his 1990 performance still sounds quite good at least 90% of his earlier 1976 performance level.....but there are numerous problems with 1990. The Leonora is weak (Banaudi) and Mehta is often too relaxed in tempo and singers are sometimes too closely miked and emphasized , the best part is Verrett's searing Azucena which really jumps out.


For $9 I paid the 1990 is OK for collectors but there are many better Trovatores including the 1976 Pavarotti

Aramis
March 16th, 2012, 07:14 PM
http://pixhost.me/avaxhome/eb/95/001595eb_medium.jpeg

HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

We should be grateful that this titanical performance was recorded and we can hear it in listenable quality. One doesn't get a cast like this too often - almost perfect, where's the flaw? Even that minor role of Tebaldo, which doesn't have anything of major importance to sing, is staffed with singer of the highest order, that is: Fredericka von Stade. Corelli is Corelli here, loving and suffering like few can, Siepi and Milnes buzz and hum so nicely, with dignity and strenght fitting their roles of high nobility, then Caballe which is absolutely stunning in the final scene with great soprano aria, she's young here and her voice is pure, it could be first time I thought WATATAVOE because of her. And what applause did she get in the end:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-_ensE0QoI

Not to mention her legendary last note.

Aramis
March 18th, 2012, 09:05 AM
http://pixhost.me/avaxhome/ec/4a/00144aec_medium.jpeg

Mixed feelings.

Orchestra - class, as you would guess. Domingo is to tall. Freni is shorther but I didn't feel her creation of Elisabetta. Posa - stands out in negative way, not very bad singer but for me he lacked certain nobility, you doesn't feel Posa to be such magnificent person as you do when you see and hear him as performed by Cappuccili in Salzburg (Karajan, Carreras, d'Amico DVD - surely the best Carlo DVD I can think of). This is longer version though and if one want to hear this one, well, I wouldn't want to discourage him too much, this DVD has some extraordinary qualities, splendid scenography and few extreordinary singers who are good even if not at their best. For Domingo's Don Carlo, still, I guess the CDs with other cast are to be prefered over this one, musically.

Aksel
March 18th, 2012, 10:20 AM
http://pixhost.me/avaxhome/ec/4a/00144aec_medium.jpeg

Mixed feelings.

Orchestra - class, as you would guess. Domingo is to tall. Freni is shorther but I didn't feel her creation of Elisabetta. Posa - stands out in negative way, not very bad singer but for me he lacked certain nobility, you doesn't feel Posa to be such magnificent person as you do when you see and hear him as performed by Cappuccili in Salzburg (Karajan, Carreras, d'Amico DVD - surely the best Carlo DVD I can think of). This is longer version though and if one want to hear this one, well, I wouldn't want to discourage him too much, this DVD has some extraordinary qualities, splendid scenography and few extreordinary singers who are good even if not at their best. For Domingo's Don Carlo, still, I guess the CDs with other cast are to be prefered over this one, musically.

Apart from Agnes Baltsa (and to a certain extent Cappuccilli), that production is a right snoozefest. A well-sung snoozefest, but still.

Aramis
March 18th, 2012, 11:15 AM
You mean poor acting? Well, you don't get it much better on other DVDs if you ask me. Besides:

- Carreras' dramatic look of power (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYAjXxXMS_E - here at 0:16)
- Carreras' looking good in his custome
- Carreras waving his hands and looking at them like he would have words of arias written there (it's always a spectacle on it's own rights)
- Flame Izzo of Friend is beautiful
- Evocative, stirring dark stage in first and last scenes

All in all I find it very good visually, despite some flaws.

sospiro
March 18th, 2012, 12:40 PM
You mean poor acting? Well, you don't get it much better on other DVDs if you ask me. Besides:

- Carreras' dramatic look of power (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYAjXxXMS_E - here at 0:16)
- Carreras' looking good in his custome
- Carreras waving his hands and looking at them like he would have words of arias written there (it's always a spectacle on it's own rights)
- Flame Izzo of Friend is beautiful
- Evocative, stirring dark stage in first and last scenes

All in all I find it very good visually, despite some flaws.

I have this DVD as Carreras was my first 'opera love' & even though it's the Four Act it's one of my favourites.

As is this:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41ZpXQiknqL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Aramis
March 18th, 2012, 12:44 PM
Must check this Villazon one. I can easily imagine him as good Don Carlo.

sospiro
March 18th, 2012, 12:47 PM
Must check this Villazon one. I can easily imagine him as good Don Carlo.

Yes he is. And Keenlyside is a great Posa.

Amfortas
March 18th, 2012, 07:30 PM
I like the old Met production, partly because it was my first encounter with Don Carlo. I agree, Aramis, that Luis Quilico's Posa is the weak link, and I suppose you could take Freni to task as well for too reserved a performance. Still, I wouldn't be without it in my DVD collection.

I also like much of the Nicholas Hytner production mentioned above--saw the Met broadcast with Alagna in the title role. Will eventually get the DVD of the Royal Opera House incarnation with Villazon.

Dark_Angel
March 24th, 2012, 03:49 PM
I think I just accidently discovered one of the very best Aidas available......:respect:http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51C4YD5687L._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B0007SWPO4/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

A live 1961 recording currently offered by Gala Label, the sound quality is really amazing one of the very best live recordings I have heard and better than many studio recordings for sound quality....you can hear everything and audience is like a church mouse!

Del Monaco, Tucci, Simionato are really great here with the extra excitement of a live performance, I have most of the highest rated Aidias and this yields nothing to them....it is a gift from the opera gods. Amazon USA has it new for $8.75 and used for $3, you will not regret this purchase

Schigolch
March 24th, 2012, 04:09 PM
Tucci was a very good Aida, indeed.

Dark_Angel
March 28th, 2012, 05:37 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BnILtAa9L._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B0000012WQ/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51XIjhgazmL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00579EKGY/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

Trovatore live versions: Karajan 1962 vs Cleva 1961
Two excellent live versions both in very good sound, both featuring Corelli and Price as leads

Cleva carries a noticeably faster tempo and Corelli is much more dramatic and show stopping (some say excessive showmanship but not for me) in his performance, I had read that Karajan was always trimming his sails when working with him. Price about equally impressive in both versions during her peak years of singing ability.

Karajan cast for Count di Luna and Azucena are stronger especially Simionato who is very powerful and dramatic Azucena, during duets with Corelli the fireworks are launched, magnifico! Overall Karajan is superior but this is one of the very best MET series released to date in very good sound and cheap.....well worth buying, you cannot have too many great Trovatore performances!

Dark_Angel
March 28th, 2012, 06:31 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=miq4WNIByd8

1963 TV performance of Leonora's opening aria describing her mysterious troubador, you can see why Price during her peak was a great singer combining velvet smooth tone with powerful delivery (Callas remains the greatest Leonora for me)

HarpsichordConcerto
April 8th, 2012, 09:52 AM
Giovanna d'Arco (1845)

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51bMy3ogh3L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Renato Bruson, Susan Dunn, Vincenzo La Scola, Orchestra Communale Di Bologna, Riccardo Chailly (1990).

Another one of those relatively rare Verdi operas based on a religious theme. A reasonably adequate production with fine singing though not the best acting, with much stiff walkings and postures on stage. Traditional costumes and traditional feel on stage marred by obviously modern looking perfectly constructed staircase going across the stage reminded me of a production that looked like it was done on a budget. That said, Riccardo Chailly directed the score with fine energy. There were several fine arias and duets all featuring Giovanna d'Arco giving me the sense that Verdi did his best during what was still his early years with opera. Quite a number of chorus numbers (like in Nabucco and in I Lombardi alla prima crociata, all semi-religious theme operas featuring the chorus depicting the mood of the people and nations). The quality of the DVD showed its age but it didn't really bother me. As there is no other version on DVD/Blu-ray to compare with, it's a decent and fitting one to add to a Verdi collection.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
April 8th, 2012, 12:17 PM
Nice, this is one of the Verdi's that I don't know, good to know that there is a commercial release.

sospiro
April 8th, 2012, 03:06 PM
Nice, this is one of the Verdi's that I don't know, good to know that there is a commercial release.

I have all of Verdi's operas on CD but several I don't have on DVD & this is one of them. I intend to get it eventually - can recommend this CD.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Zm7koBTeL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Aramis
April 22nd, 2012, 07:25 PM
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_OW_dl3D9BXQ/SjM6JyDSjFI/AAAAAAAAAVk/iIfmt93D-OY/s320/il+trovatore.JPG

Greatest recorded Trovatore in my book - only Corelli is perfect: I'd say that Cappuccilli was more lyrical and sensitive di Luna than Merrill (though hardly as powerful and brutal when needed), that Callas, Ricciarelli and few other sopranos had more sublime vocalizes than Tucci in sighing aria, but it's still rare combination of various kinds of greatnesses. The recording quality is awesome, orchestral score realised as one could desire, there are three absolutely great singers and one singer out of this world breathing notes each of which is pure gold (I don't belive there was ever stronger pre-wedding scene than here, both aria and cabaletta are stunning). I think of it so much higher than of the other Corelli Trovatore with Price.

sospiro
April 22nd, 2012, 07:53 PM
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_OW_dl3D9BXQ/SjM6JyDSjFI/AAAAAAAAAVk/iIfmt93D-OY/s320/il+trovatore.JPG

Greatest recorded Trovatore in my book - only Corelli is perfect: I'd say that Cappuccilli was more lyrical and sensitive di Luna than Merrill (though hardly as powerful and brutal when needed), that Callas, Ricciarelli and few other sopranos had more sublime vocalizes than Tucci in sighing aria, but it's still rare combination of various kinds of greatnesses. The recording quality is awesome, orchestral score realised as one could desire, there are three absolutely great singers and one singer out of this world breathing notes each of which is pure gold (I don't belive there was ever stronger pre-wedding scene than here, both aria and cabaletta are stunning). I think of it so much higher than of the other Corelli Trovatore with Price.

Is it live or studio?

Aramis
April 22nd, 2012, 07:57 PM
Is it live or studio?

Studio, naturally. That's one of it's greatest advantages.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
April 22nd, 2012, 08:50 PM
Good. I also gave a favorable review of it in our Trovatore in-depth files, and I've copied and pasted your review of it there, side by side with mine.

Dark_Angel
April 22nd, 2012, 09:08 PM
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_OW_dl3D9BXQ/SjM6JyDSjFI/AAAAAAAAAVk/iIfmt93D-OY/s320/il+trovatore.JPG

Greatest recorded Trovatore in my book - only Corelli is perfect: I'd say that Cappuccilli was more lyrical and sensitive di Luna than Merrill (though hardly as powerful and brutal when needed), that Callas, Ricciarelli and few other sopranos had more sublime vocalizes than Tucci in sighing aria, but it's still rare combination of various kinds of greatnesses. The recording quality is awesome, orchestral score realised as one could desire, there are three absolutely great singers and one singer out of this world breathing notes each of which is pure gold (I don't belive there was ever stronger pre-wedding scene than here, both aria and cabaletta are stunning). I think of it so much higher than of the other Corelli Trovatore with Price.

Yes indeed that is a great one aided by very good studio sound, Tucci does great job as Leonora (Callas remains my gold standard) I would also give it a slight edge over any of the Corelli/Price live Trovatore's form early 1960s. The problem is very expensive to purchase it now........

I am listening to this 1956 Decca stereo studio version now:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/618T6%2B%2BxCSL._AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/B00000E2QV/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_2?ie=UTF8&index=2) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51dVBz2yV5L._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00006LENP/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

Simionato sings a wonderful Azucena for both Tucci and Tebaldi versions, Tebaldi is slightly out of her comfort zone here lacking some of the dramatic fireworks and impressive agile runs of say Callas, but one can easily adapt to her more refined charms and enjoy her mastery. Del Monaco is a dramatic heroic Manrico similar to Corelli, they are both great although I will give edge to Corelli, one should own both of these.

sospiro
April 23rd, 2012, 04:16 AM
Studio, naturally. That's one of it's greatest advantages.

Thanks Aramis. The only copy I've found so far is a bit expensive but I've put it on my wish list.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
April 29th, 2012, 07:18 PM
La Traviata, opera in three acts (1853), music by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Francesco Maria Piave

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41%2BLS%2BNcUsL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Virgin Classics release, April 3, 2012, region-free, co-produced by Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, Arte and BelAir Media
NTSC, 16:9, good color and definition
Running time 139 minutes, 1 DVD-9
Sound formats LPCM Stereo, DTS 5.1 (good quality but I had to turn down the subwoofer volume; too much bass)
Optional subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian
Available from Amazon.com, click [here (http://www.amazon.com/Verdi-La-Traviata-Natalie-Dessay/dp/B006LPI0KU/ref=sr_1_3?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1335726438&sr=1-3)]

New co-production of Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, Wiener Staatsoper, Opéra de Dijon, and Théâtre de Caen
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Louis Langrée
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, choir master Mikk Üleoja
Filmed at the Théâtre de l'Archevêché, live, 2011, film direction Don Kent

Stage director Jean-François Sivadier
Settings Alexandre de Dardel
Costumes Virginie Gervaise
Lighting Philippe Berthomé

Cast

Violetta Valéry - Natalie Dessay
Giorgio Germont - Ludovic Tézier
Alfredo Germont - Charles Castronovo
Annina - Adelina Scarabelli
Flora Bervoix - Silvia de La Muela
Gastone de Letorières - Manuel Nunez Camelino
Barone Douphol - Kostas Smoriginas

----------

The ouverture is *very* well rendered by the orchestra, which is not always the case in many of the existing Traviata DVDs, including my favorite (Anna Netrebko's, in Willy Decker's production). Lush, vivid, energetic sound (although a bit much, since the overture is, of course, a very melancholic piece).

The opening scene is very clever, with Ms. Dessay looking good and showing her acting talent from the very beginning. Settings and costumes are current-day, simple, but what they do with a large blue curtain at the beginning is interesting.

Very good acting in this production. Alfredo has the physique-du-rôle, and looks like a shy and awkward youngster. The entire opening party scene is very well done with good dynamic use of the space. The orchestra and chorus do well. So far, very satisfactory.

Unlike her fragile and full of pathos first scene at the Met recently, Ms. Dessay here looks very flirtatious and lively. She is the kind of singing-actress who can impact whatever approach she feels more fitting for each production. Impressive (but expected, we all know how good an actress she is).

Some reviews have praised Mr. Charles Castronovo's singing as Alfredo. I find it only correct, coming fresh from Mr. Matthew Polenzani's spectacular rendition at the Met. Beautiful lyric tenor voice, but nothing remarkable about it. The problem is that he doesn't "act with his voice" in terms of interpretative phrasing as well as Mr. Polenzani did. Also, his high C cracked in Act II.

What about Ms. Dessay's voice? Well, it is not what it used to be a few years back. Volume and projection are hard to gauge on DVD but by comparison with the other singers, she does produce a softer sound. This is of course helped by the recording / sound engineering, with a better end-user result than when I heard her at the cavernous Met three weeks ago.

Agility, her hallmark, is also slightly diminished (although better than when I saw her at the Met and she was recovering from illness - but still less than her meteoric speed that I've seen in the past). But there is no doubt that her voice remains beautiful, and any difficulties are more than compensated by her spectacular acting. Watching a Dessay Violetta in close-ups provided by the DVD medium is a pleasure, with her incredibly well-managed and nuanced facial expressions and body language. Furthermore, this experienced and accomplished artist is intelligent enough to take her performance where she wants it, and she is able to administer quite nicely a voice that is not as brilliant now as it was at her very vocal peak. Anyway, give me Ms. Dessay slightly passed her vocal peak any day, she is still great to see and hear.

One interesting thing to notice in her Sempre Libera scene: oh my, the lady has very toned biceps. Ms. Dessay must hit the gym quite frequently and is in excellent shape!

Great, great acting decision: when Alfredo serenades her from outside during Sempre Libera, she mouths silently his words.

I like the settings for the first scene of the second act - simple panels with a spring scene, blu sky with clouds.

OK, we get to what generates most complaints about this production: Ludovic Tézier's acting abilities, or rather, lack thereof, with his traditional approach to acting that is as nuanced as the one produced by a fish in a bowl.

In spite of Verdi's and Piave's spectacular first act, I've always considered the Violetta-Giorgio Germont scene in second act to be the core of this opera, with the most psychological impact, and the pivotal moment of the story. Well, if you get a Giorgio Germont who can't act, no matter how well he sings, it is a problem. And I confess that I'm not even very fond of Mr. Tézier's singing either (it is technically correct but I don't like his timbre), and have never been. So, his presence in this production takes down several notches the overall quality.

So we get one of the most (or *the* most) gifted acting artist(s) in the current operatic field, alongside with a cold fish. The contrast is simply mind boggling, when Ms. Dessay's Violetta reacts strongly to Mr. Tézier's Giorgio, while the latter keeps bringing down the tension with his nonexistent acting.

Another positive aspect of this production is that they have included a few stanzas that are often cut from other shows, so I got some nice surprises along the ride.

The lady doing Flora is great eye candy (Silvia de La Muela - I've seen her before in Lulu with Patricia Petibon).

http://www.kaputz.com/newkaputz/tbimgs/silvia-de-la-muela.jpg

Supporting roles in general are OK; nothing remarkable or terrible.

The main problem - and also main quality - of this production is that Ms. Dessay is so much better than everybody else here! Certainly a regional opera festival in the countryside of France doesn't have the same casting power of the major houses, so what we have here is a star of the first magnitude with some second stringers and unknowns. The orchestra is good, though. Overall this is still a good production, I suppose (I haven't finished watching it yet, may edit this later).

Very anemic "Di Provenza il mar, il suol" by Tézier. Another major bummer, since this is one of my favorite moments in this opera.

The two musical reliefs provided by Verdi - the gypsy and the matador scenes - are extremely well done and interesting in this production - including with very beautiful young people (not all of them, but still) with slightly revealing clothes. I liked these scenes a lot (this production is proving to be uneven).

By the way, in the matter of eye candy, the ladies will like Mr. Kostas Smoriginas as much as I liked Ms. Silvia de La Muela, I guess.

Ms. Dessay's wig in the second act is not flattering, but her singing and Mr. Castronovo's are more solid in Act II, with proper warming of the voice. The orchestra continues to produce beautiful, lush, resonant sounds - certainly a high point of this show.

Great opening for the third act, with Annina removing Violetta's outfit, wig, and make-up while the orchestra plays the pungent introduction, and Ms. Dessay switching effortlessly to a sick and despondent figure (what an actress!).

The letter scene is great, "Addio del passato" is equally good, with Ms. Dessay making good use of the fact that these scenes have a quieter orchestra. A clever staging detail is that while she sings of her pain, a man silently washes out the happy words that characters had written on a wall during the party scenes, and slowly erases the words Violetta and Traviata.

Scenery is the falling-apart loft kind with some dirt (leaves, flower pieces) on the ground, very low chandeliers, very atmospheric.

Alfredo's arrival is another powerful scene from the acting standpoint - Mr. Castronovo shows good acting here. This is proving to be a very successful act III.

It continues rather well. The death scene is magnificent, with her final fall to the ground being slightly delayed.

The end.

Certainly this third act went a long way in increasing the desirability of this DVD.

Overall, recommended, A-. It looked like a B or B+ all along, but when one factors in the great orchestra, Ms. Dessay's fabulous acting and beautiful (although aging) voice, Mr. Castronovo's very decent singing and good acting, some eye candy, and good staging, it does reach A territory, in spite of Mr. Tézier's fishy acting with prevents this from being A+. Funny enough Mr. Tézier seems to have a big following in Aix-en-Provence, drawing lots of applause during the curtain calls. Go figure! Only Ms. Dessay got more applause than him.

Anyway, a good Traviata. Not essential, but a nice recommended buy (and quite obligatory for Ms. Dessay's fans).

Dark_Angel
April 30th, 2012, 05:42 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51rpNHdRvgL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

This modern Rigoletto completes my JDF collection, and overall a very good modern production that has visually interesting scences and some clever abstraction of physical settings.

Right off the opening prelude has stage action (a plus for director) instead of orchestra generic footage, the jester Rigoletto prepares for another day in the dukes service dressing and smearing on his buffon face, let the orgy begin.....

Great fantasy costumes for act 1 orgy patrons, partial nudity and a fascination for birds seems the theme, nice visual touches seems like a groovy time for all. JDF as the duke appears (with silly mullet hair piece) and causes trouble immediately pursuing married women. Rigoletto incurs the curse of a protective father thus sealing the fate of his own daughter Gilda eventually. This was most effective act of this production for me, great start......

JDF singing is commanding as expected, I wish he was a bit more evil and lecherous in his acting, almost seemed like a nice guy. Lucic as Rigoletto was good without being great, but he acted the part well as the unwitting fool that brought about his own misfortune. Damrau is very good Gilda and can easliy sing the part to very high standards as well as great sympathetic acting as the lovestruck innocent.

Interesting abstract visuals for act 2 as we have light blue room with single bed and many "x" figures all over the walls, a small room next door is also used during some shots. As the act progresses in time to night the room darkens and the "x" are backlit to become stars, nice effective visuals. The vengeful patrons now exchange fantasy costumes for partial devil masks when abducting gilda, another nice visual and symbolic touch.

Act 3 has some problems with temptress Maddalena being neither beautiful nor very good acting having little seductive chemistry with the duke, brother asassin Sparafulcie much better portrayal and effective acting. You had to use quite a bit of imagination during murder/discovery of gilda scence, lost some visual impact of more traditional production....but overall this works well as modern production.

I prefer the Pavarotti and Domingo traditional productions over this, but as an alternative to add to a collection well worth getting. Virgin unfortunately does not offer blu ray option

Act 1 orgy with cool costumes:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4v18ZIOgeU&feature=player_detailpage

Dark_Angel
May 5th, 2012, 05:59 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51oh4a2e73L._SL500_AA280_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000TGVJSW/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=163856011&s=dmusic)

Just listened to 6-7 famous versions of Rigoletto this week and came away again with greatest appreciation for this recording.

1955 mono studio recording with EMI "alpha" trio of Callas - Stephano - Gobbi, we catch all three at near peak performance in a gift from the opera gods. Gobbi is the gold standard for the jester Rigoletto, he goes where no others can go show us the dark soul of this tormented character, such masterful insights. Stephano gives us a darker edge to the duke, and his forte tenor is in full display. Callas gives a heartbreaking soulful performance, such deep realistic emotional feeling are painted by this great artist....they leap from your speakers and demand your full attention!

Listen to this duet with Callas/Gobbi to close act 2, mercurial Maria takes full flight at 1:47


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=bJ96iv00wKw

Aramis
May 5th, 2012, 07:00 PM
I just listened to a new Rigoletto, too:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51oUBKWC%2B4L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Class. I already had two studio Rigolettos with Alfredo Kraus and I can't compare which is the best, but here he certainly doesn't fall behind these two other creations, at least. Then there's Bastianini for which I've picted this up. Being one of greatest recorded baritones he provides extraordinary interpretation, though I think that his voice sounds a bit too powerful at times for the role - you would think that he will beat up all those courtiers who try to keep him away from duke's chamber. Then there's Scotto. I liked her best of other three Gildas from Kraus Rigolettos, the other two being Moffo and Sills. The only complain is orchestra, very much like the Callas/Stefano mono studio recordings and choose of tempos, lots of fragments seemd to me as taken too slow (finale of 1st scene, Possente Amor cabaletta, Duke/Madalena duettino preceding the quintet...) and therefore lacking much of it's qualities. But all in all it's recording to be mentioned among greatest Verdi CDs, with four absolute legends of singing together it couldn't be much diffrent.

Dark_Angel
June 21st, 2012, 12:21 AM
Aida CDs all week...........

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51bDOfi64qL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000KLRUKC/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51js62tH31L._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000023ZF0/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/616nqkW5I4L._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000003EQ2/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51whfPzn9ML._SL500_AA280_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000TENDSI/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=163856011&s=dmusic)

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41KF92MWKPL._SL500_AA300_.jpg http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51xYX%2BpG6pL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00099BPOW/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51PDs740MxL._SL500_AA280_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B0026M28PA/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=163856011&s=dmusic) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51EuZEX7b5L._AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/B000002SDW/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_2?ie=UTF8&index=2&isremote=0)

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5111Nigw8IL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000028CS9/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41Zk9QQWyCL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Dark_Angel
June 21st, 2012, 12:28 AM
While still fresh in my mind the Solti goes to the top of the list of extremely strong field, the sound quality of this is amazing with Solti's brilliant brass section capturing the "italianate" horn sound perfectly as Verdi would have wanted. Individually the cast seems to be outclassed by others but in actual performance overall it goes to the top of my list.

Available as budget priced 2 CD set or the older 3 CD release......

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51js62tH31L._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000023ZF0/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music) http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/fa/54/4b4e225b9da077cb55257110.L._AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/B0000041RW/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_0?ie=UTF8&index=0&isremote=0)

Karajan made a couple attempts at recording the ideal Aida, but Solti is so much more expressive and powerful that he wins me over. Muti version is loved by many including me but I cannot deny the overall excellence of Solti....

Dark_Angel
June 21st, 2012, 12:32 AM
The best Aida most are not aware of is the 1961 Tucci / Del Monaco performance, live but sound quality is so good you will think it is a studio performance, any serious Aida fan really needs this (you must trust me on this)
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5111Nigw8IL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://go.redirectingat.com/?id=24931X841027&site=operalively.com/forums&xs=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2Fi mages%2FB000028CS9%2Fref%3Ddp_image_0%3Fie%3DUTF8% 26n%3D5174%26s%3Dmusic&xguid=0ed7110261721d688a75c041e4793cb0&xcreo=0&sref=http%3A%2F%2Foperalively.com%2Fforums%2Fshowt hread.php%2F292-Operas-by-Verdi-on-DVD-Blu-ray-and-CD%2Fpage7)

sospiro
June 21st, 2012, 04:07 AM
While still fresh in my mind the Solti goes to the top of the list of extremely strong field, the sound quality of this is amazing with Solti's brilliant brass section capturing the "italianate" horn sound perfectly as Verdi would have wanted. Individually the cast seems to be outclassed by others but in actual performance overall it goes to the top of my list.

Available as budget priced 2 CD set or the older 3 CD release......


Karajan made a couple attempts at recording the ideal Aida, but Solti is so much more expressive and powerful that he wins me over. Muti version is loved by many including me but I cannot deny the overall excellence of Solti....

Thanks D_A. As you say a budget price! Ordered today.

Schigolch
June 22nd, 2012, 10:59 AM
This is recorded in German, but glorious singing from Rosvaenge, and very solid performances from the rest of the cast. Interesting for Aida's dedicated fans:

http://c3.cduniverse.ws/MuzeAudioArt/Large/66/223066.jpg

Festat
June 22nd, 2012, 08:15 PM
Wow, Aida in German must really be something.

Dark_Angel
June 23rd, 2012, 01:30 AM
Verdi MacBeth CDs all week..........

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71FfnE4oYHL._AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/B000001GS3/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_1?ie=UTF8&index=1&isremote=0) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51hz%2BGRLGRL._SL500_AA280_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000TERMEY/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=163856011&s=dmusic)

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51O6KT%2BVBEL._SL500_AA280_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000TETMD8/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=163856011&s=dmusic) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512ngWs0aeL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00000E4VS/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/517cy4x28TL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000025WF9/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51gfnFPq6gL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B004QM8HTY/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/516-kSWnPPL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B006IOOXR8/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

Dark_Angel
June 23rd, 2012, 01:45 AM
While still fresh in my mind two overall favorites here are Muti and Schippers:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51hz%2BGRLGRL._SL500_AA280_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000TERMEY/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=163856011&s=dmusic) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512ngWs0aeL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00000E4VS/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

Both of these are thrilling bold dramatic performances, Schippers even tops Muti here in the manic sections going all out when needed and Decca has a fabulous sound quality recording. Great cast for Muti and his Lady MacBeth (Fiorenza Cossotto) is delightfully devious and dark, such dramatic flashes of energy...the best modern stereo Lady M for me. The men for Muti are also extremely strong cast making this overall best modern version....

Nilsson has never really impressed me outside of her Wagner roles, but this can make me a believer...what a performance! Men not quite as strong as Muti but Schippers conducts a commanding performance in spectacular stereo sound.....this is OOP so you must buy used or a CDR re-issue at Arkiv Music

Shirley Verrett would seem to be a natural Lady M but I am not really thrilled overall by either the famous Abbado or later Chailly sets...if she was in the Schippers set it could take over top spot.
Souliotis is excellent Lady M and Gardelli has spirited conducting, just misses the top spot overall

Special mention of the greatest Lady MacBeth I have heard.....Callas
This is live 1952 in decent sound and Callas is unstoppable here, like a supernova blazing in the heavens, fabulous!
Conductor De Sabata would next year work again with Callas for her legendary 1953 studio Tosca

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51O6KT%2BVBEL._SL500_AA280_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000TETMD8/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=163856011&s=dmusic) http://aprilemillo.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/callas-famous-lady-macbeth.jpg?w=261

Dark_Angel
June 23rd, 2012, 02:09 AM
BTW I despise the cheesey artwork used for these two budget opera series.....sometimes I will make my own artwork to use instead


http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51gfnFPq6gL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://go.redirectingat.com/?id=24931X841027&site=operalively.com/forums&xs=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2Fi mages%2FB004QM8HTY%2Fref%3Ddp_image_0%3Fie%3DUTF8% 26n%3D5174%26s%3Dmusic&xguid=57f3f57d3c04ff9d6544106245b488e9&xcreo=0&sref=http%3A%2F%2Foperalively.com%2Fforums%2Fshowt hread.php%2F292-Operas-by-Verdi-on-DVD-Blu-ray-and-CD%2Fpage8) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51hz%2BGRLGRL._SL500_AA280_.jpg (http://go.redirectingat.com/?id=24931X841027&site=operalively.com/forums&xs=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2Fi mages%2FB000TERMEY%2Fref%3Ddp_image_0%3Fie%3DUTF8% 26n%3D163856011%26s%3Ddmusic&xguid=57f3f57d3c04ff9d6544106245b488e9&xcreo=0&sref=http%3A%2F%2Foperalively.com%2Fforums%2Fshowt hread.php%2F292-Operas-by-Verdi-on-DVD-Blu-ray-and-CD%2Fpage8)

Festat
June 23rd, 2012, 02:20 AM
BTW I despise the cheesey artwork used for these two budget opera series.....sometimes I will make my own artwork to use instead

YES. That EMI Classics series is criminal! Drop-shadowed text!

Schigolch
June 23rd, 2012, 09:35 AM
http://www.freecodesource.com/album-cover/51WE62m7VaL/-Margherita-Grandi-sings-Verdi.jpg

For anyone interested in Lady Macbeth's role, this is a great CD.

Margaret Gard (Margherita Grandi) was an Australian soprano that moved to Europe as a teenager, and changed his name after marrying an Italian husband in the 1920s. Her finest moments came after replacing Lina Bruna Rasa as Elena (Mefistofele), performed at La Scala in 1934. Here we have a selection of an Edimburgh's Macbeth from 1946, singing with Francesco Valentino and Italo Tajo, with Berthold Goldschmidt conducting. There is also the sleepwalking scene recorded for EMI in 1948 (Beecham) and some fragments from Don Carlo and Trovatore.


Grandi was a real dramatic soprano, and we can hear in this CD how she had a balanced voice across all her range, from the low notes to the high D-flat, but singing with legato, and morbidezza. She was already 55 years old, but in great form.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oxV6ZMvCT4

sospiro
June 23rd, 2012, 01:33 PM
This was the cast I saw during my Macbeth experience in May/June 2011. It may not be the best version but will always be my favourite.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51st6MXlE7L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Dark_Angel
June 29th, 2012, 01:57 AM
Live Trovatore, added another great version with very good sound:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51iFOUjeS0L._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000X8NHH2/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41TMSW39ESL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

1964 strong cast with Gabriella Tucci as Leonora, Bergonzi (Manrico) Cappucelli (Di Luna) Simionato (Azucena)
Nothing to complain about as Tucci comes through like a champ and other cast are proven winners, conductor Gavazzetti delivers the goods.....I cannot get enough Trovatore

These are other great live Tovatores:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51XIjhgazmL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00579EKGY/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BnILtAa9L._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B0000012WQ/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51UqLSFEB3L._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00000K4HT/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

Schigolch
June 29th, 2012, 08:26 AM
An interesting alternative live version:


http://c3.cduniverse.ws/MuzeAudioArt/Large/41/1242141.jpg

Dark_Angel
July 5th, 2012, 08:18 PM
Callas Trovatore Mexico 1950..........Tacea la notte placida/Tale Amor

Excellent rip from vinyl found on youtube, cleanest I have heard, Callas was flying where eagles dare listen to those commanding high notes added at 3:22 and 5:48


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=z1HJNtoqLiI

Festat
July 5th, 2012, 09:05 PM
Does anyone know how good are the contents in this?

http://file-downloading.com/img_store/0/14/38/verdi_edition_complete_image-46.jpg

HarpsichordConcerto
July 21st, 2012, 10:12 AM
Jérusalem, French version of I Lombardi alla prima crociata. Verdi's first French opera.

This is the only version (I think) of Jérusalem on DVD/Blu-ray. Just a quick note to report that this is a very decent production, solid singing and more or less traditional staging with some bright costumes. Some not so well known singers taking the lead role, for example Ivan Momirov singing a very solid tenor role (Gaston). The version pictured below is released by TDK, but the same production is also available from Arthaus Musik. (The double DVD TDK set I received featured a different cover from below). The enclosed booklet does not contain a synopsis but if you are familiar with the original Italian version then all should be good, or you can simply read a summary from Wikipedia.

Ivan Momirov (Gaston, Vicomte de Béarn), Verónica Villarroel (Hélène, Fille du Comte), Federica Bragaglia (Isaure), Alain Fondary (Le Comte de Toulouse) & Carlo Colombara (Roger, Frère du Comte), Teatro Carlo Felice, Michel Plasson (conductor) & Piergiorgio Gay (stage director), 2000.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/510DPZFT15L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Dark_Angel
July 21st, 2012, 04:17 PM
HC
I waited a nano second and Verdi Jerusalem sold out at Presto super sale along with Tancredi :rolleyes1:

Nothing but scaps left now.....

Dark_Angel
July 22nd, 2012, 01:28 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/510nEfdGfXL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

I don't know any really good version of Macbeth. This one has the excellent Shirley Verrett, the adequate if slightly constipated looking Leo Nucci, a couple of actors synching to Sam Ramey and Verriano Lucchetti, some atmospheric Belgian dungeons, marshes, caves and some severely creepy feral wolf-children witches. The problem is partly Verdi's - the music for the witches is so relentlessly up-beat and jolly that you'd really want them in sugar-hued cocktail dresses to match, whereas blue-tinted monkey-women crawling around the rocks and cannibalising rotting corpses don't really fit...

Actually I had more fun watching the accompanying "making-of" doco, with the chain-smoking Francophone director alternately snarling about missing cellphones and the method-acting bit-part thespian playing Macduff, and the next minute coaxing Shirley Verrett (who just managed to keep a straight face) into tugging on Nucci's sword as though she is pleasuring him sexually.

A relentlessly dark, gothic, oppressive movie version that explores the journey to the heart of darkness for Macbeth and lady Macbeth. Shot on location at old castle gave very closed in dark claustrophobic sets, the horror aspects were really played up almost like watching a dracula movie with long walks down dark torch lit hallways and the gore of realistic rotting corpses on battle field with our darling little semi nude "monkey witches" picking among them.....you get the picture a very dark graphic version.

Verrett was one of the greatest lady Macbeth vocally, and gives a very good acting performance here, as she must continue to push her faltering husband to commit ever greater atrocities to stay in power. You can sense that dark presence inside her very well and her facial expressions and body movements all fit the role so well. Nucci did a decent job in a tough acting role of Macbeth since you must constantly react to phantom visions and conflicted feelings without looking over the top silly

I love those unconventional witches, topless with minimal groin cloths and entire body in a dark greyish blue color. They do not walk upright but instead scamper on all fours like a monkey, they are happy to carry out the dark work of the underworld among the dead and decayed. They are crucial to plot of Macbeth as they provide the prophecies that drive Macbeth to go on his killing sprees in order to keep power at all costs, the music for them is like a dance because they work in a unified group while on stage and they enjoy these dark deeds. So the music has an interesting contrast to the subject being depicted, a symbiotic sweet/sour relationship.

The documentary does have some laughable excess regarding directors "vision" of things. Natalie is referring to scence where Macbeth just kills King Duncan in his bed chamber and Lady M calms him down and explains how to hide the crime. She cleans blood off the dagger with her cloak and director wants her to enjoy it in a sexual manner like an act of masterbation while Nucci revels in his exstatic feeling of bloodlust and power.......Verretts look while director explains this is priceless

So many will not like this because of its extremely dark graphic nature, but I like these kinds of movies so this will stay in my collection, not your typical opera movie by any means, complete youtube below:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=3pL5Lj34RHg

I love that sinister devilish look on Verretts face during the banquet brindisi 103:20 as she urges everyone to have fun.....she loves the dark side here, but soon it will consume her

Dark_Angel
August 4th, 2012, 12:31 PM
Boccanegra, Boccanegra

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51visv4poJL._SL500_AA300_.jpghttp://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51OR37S2xnL._SL500_AA300_.jpg


ROH outdoes themselves with newest Boccanegra using same production but raising the bar in several areas, if only there was a blu ray version

Of course the DVD picture and sound quality are superior over early 1990s version, also a glaring staging misstep has been partially corrected - when Boccanegra pours glass drinks the poison water originally singer entirely blocks audience view of event while in new version Domingo allows audience side view of fateful event. (would prefer pitcher/glass in front of Domingo for full audience view)

This opera dominated by male vocals and the elder singers Domingo and Furlanetto (Boccanegra and Fiesco) are really great in new ROH easily surpassing previous version, thier long held vendetta and eventual reconcilliation are so well done by these two veterans. All the male vocalists are better in this new version, Calleja make a nice Gabriele and has believeable romantic chemistry with Amelia. The final death scence was the best I have ever seen, so emotionally believeble and heartbreaking thanks in no small part to the wonderful performance of Poplavskaya who gave us real love and heartbreak for her father as he died in her arms.....

I have become a big fan of Marina she has such persuavsive emotional presence, so dramatic and striking she wins me over everytime. The chemistry with her father Boccanegra was never better done especially at the death scence she was every bit the loving daughter. She has that youthful pure innocence and stage presence, her long flowing golden hair looked so fabulous in several scences, she has my attention at all times. :heart1:

So to sum up a clear winner over older version and music with Pappano retains the same high standards set by Solti, I liked this so much I also purchased recent La Scala Boccanegra also featuring Domingo / Furlanetto team....


http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SrWISbecL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

sospiro
August 4th, 2012, 02:53 PM
Boccanegra, Boccanegra

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51visv4poJL._SL500_AA300_.jpghttp://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51OR37S2xnL._SL500_AA300_.jpg


ROH outdoes themselves with newest Boccanegra using same production but raising the bar in several areas, if only there was a blu ray version

Of course the DVD picture and sound quality are superior over early 1990s version, also a glaring staging misstep has been partially corrected - when Boccanegra pours glass drinks the poison water originally singer entirely blocks audience view of event while in new version Domingo allows audience side view of fateful event. (would prefer pitcher/glass in front of Domingo for full audience view)

This opera dominated by male vocals and the elder singers Domingo and Furlanetto (Boccanegra and Fiesco) are really great in new ROH easily surpassing previous version, thier long held vendetta and eventual reconcilliation are so well done by these two veterans. All the male vocalists are better in this new version, Calleja make a nice Gabriele and has believeable romantic chemistry with Amelia. The final death scence was the best I have ever seen, so emotionally believeble and heartbreaking thanks in no small part to the wonderful performance of Poplavskaya who gave us real love and heartbreak for her father as he died in her arms.....

I have become a big fan of Marina she has such persuavsive emotional presence, so dramatic and striking she wins me over everytime. The chemistry with her father Boccanegra was never better done especially at the death scence she was every bit the loving daughter. She has that youthful pure innocence and stage presence, her long flowing golden hair looked so fabulous in several scences, she has my attention at all times. :heart1:

So to sum up a clear winner over older version and music with Pappano retains the same high standards set by Solti, I liked this so much I also purchased recent La Scala Boccanegra also featuring Domingo / Furlanetto team....


http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SrWISbecL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

I'm so pleased you like the ROH, it holds such a special place in my heart! I've been very good lately & only bought one DVD (Don Quichotte) but I'm sorely tempted to get this new La Scala version.

There were several negative comments about Marina recently when she replaced Harteros as Desdemona at ROH at the last minute but I really like her. I thought she was a perfect Elisabetta in the Nicholas Hytner Don Carlo (Villazon/Keenlyside/Furlanetto) and, like you, loved her Amelia.

Dark_Angel
August 4th, 2012, 03:26 PM
I'm so pleased you like the ROH, it holds such a special place in my heart! I've been very good lately & only bought one DVD (Don Quichotte) but I'm sorely tempted to get this new La Scala version.

There were several negative comments about Marina recently when she replaced Harteros as Desdemona at ROH at the last minute but I really like her. I thought she was a perfect Elisabetta in the Nicholas Hytner Don Carlo (Villazon/Keenlyside/Furlanetto) and, like you, loved her Amelia.

Have not seen the new ROH Otello but I can say Marina impressed me greatly in this Otello, again her natural human compassion and purity of character shines and the final bedroom scence with "willow song" the affection she shows towards her personal maid (like very close friend) are not equaled in any other version for me......very nice human touch

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51hwlR055PL._SL500_AA300_.jpg



http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=-j4GkleqaSQ


Speaking of Harteros she is Amelia in the La Scala Boccanegra I mention above (my new purchase)

HarpsichordConcerto
August 5th, 2012, 12:14 AM
Aida

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/518u02nvFSL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Eszter Sümegi (Aida), Kostadin Andreev (Radamès), Cornelia Helfricht (Amneris), Pier Dalas (Ramphis), Janusz Monarcha (Il Re di Egitto), Sewan Salmasi (Una Sacerdotessa), Martin Fournier (Un Messaggero), Chorus, Corps de Ballet & Orchestra of the National Theatre Brno, Ernst Märzendorfer, stage direction by Robert Herzl. Open-air event from the St Margarethen Festival, August 2004.

I am a bit of a sucker for lavish Aida productions. This one was an open-air production, which had a nice feel to it. The sands, the stones, the grass, air-movement, the fire, the animals (including elephants) all seemed to bring to live Ancient Egypt on a large stage. But that was probably the best feature of this production. It seemed there were some amount of cuts, perhaps for pragmatic reasons of an open-air production without changing the stage sets/scenes. The singing was nothing special. The voices were recorded better than the orchestra, which sounded too thin without the acoustics of a concert hall. In all, an average one. I paid a below average price of about US$12 including freight.

HarpsichordConcerto
August 13th, 2012, 10:26 AM
Get it, all Verdi geezers. There may be better Luisas on CD (Domingo/Ricciarelli) but this one is splendid DVD, rarely obscure operas of Verdi get such solid productions. Alberto Gazale is wonderful, his cration of secondary role almost stole the whole thing for me. Demuro shines too, with his fine voice (though I got impression that in famous aria he supplied music only with it, fine voice, without providing equally fine, insightful interpretation, that's my only little complain). There is also Asian geezer. He seemd to me as standing out a little bit, like he would come "from another story", diffrent kind of acting and appearance (he looked a bit fantastic in the whole realistic setting). But he sung well. Nobody was bad enough to spoil the thing. It's very much worth of having if you enjoy more Verdi operas than only the famous few.

Well, if you say so. I might give it a try. My only reservation is that Bongiovanni DVD recordings are usually not on par with the standards we might be accustomed to from premium labels.

Schigolch
August 13th, 2012, 11:00 AM
I haven't watched that DVD, but with the cast I won't feel really interested.

There is a Luisa Miller in DVD with Domingo, Scotto, Milnes,... that is ok, and sounds much more interesting.

My favorite recording of the opera:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/515FQKYnzXL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

sospiro
August 13th, 2012, 04:25 PM
I haven't watched that DVD, but with the cast I won't feel really interested.
I love this opera so I don't care!


There is a Luisa Miller in DVD with Domingo, Scotto, Milnes,... that is ok, and sounds much more interesting.

Got that & it's very good.


My favorite recording of the opera:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/515FQKYnzXL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

My favourite CD is this with Caballé, Pavarotti & Milnes

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51raIuwcTrL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Aramis
August 13th, 2012, 04:46 PM
Well, if you say so. I might give it a try. My only reservation is that Bongiovanni DVD recordings are usually not on par with the standards we might be accustomed to from premium labels.


I haven't watched that DVD, but with the cast I won't feel really interested.

What nobodu Belibves mne, am I not lknown as OPERA LIVELY PROFESAOR when i sawy it's good it's good

sorryc for typos i'm eating carrot one hand

sospiro
August 13th, 2012, 04:58 PM
sorryc for typos i'm eating carrot one hand


I'd like to see the typos if you were eating a carrot with both hands

Schigolch
August 13th, 2012, 05:40 PM
This is Rachele Stanisci singing Luisa. No need to trust OPERA LIVELY PROFESAOR's in the habit of eating carrots.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8hrrhiiQzU

I've heard both Stanisci and Demuro on stage. I don't need any further proof.

Aramis
August 13th, 2012, 07:18 PM
I don't need any further proof.

Of what, are they bad singers or something I don't know I'm simple carrot devourer who has less than 10 Normas and thinks Demuro has quite extraordinary timbre and other qualities of voice no less than apt, more or less the same goes to Gazale

Schigolch
August 13th, 2012, 07:34 PM
My friend, if you enjoy the voice of Demuro that's good for you.

Timbre is a very personal thing. The more personal thing about a singer, in fact. In this case, I find it rather weak and unexciting. To sing Rodolfo with such a small voice is indeed a difficult task, anyway. Here we can hear Mr. Demuro singing the big aria "Quando le sere al placido":


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3-5v8tktqo

So, yes, I wouldn't pay to hear this couple (Demuro - Stanisci) singing Luisa Miller. And I share this advice with other members and readers here, the same way you could share yours. Then, each member and reader is free to follow mine, yours, or neither of them.

By the way, the number of Normas in your possesion is irrelevant to how those singers can perform in Luisa Miller.

Not so sure about the number of carrots devoured before actually hearing the opera, however.

Schigolch
August 16th, 2012, 06:36 PM
Another Luisa Miller DVD:

http://www.vaimusic.com/Merchant2/graphics/00000001/HCD4048-main.jpg


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0BPNL1TwUY

Dark_Angel
August 18th, 2012, 06:13 PM
Another Domingo Boccanegra for my collection......

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SrWISbecL._SL500_AA300_.jpg http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51visv4poJL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

The new La Scala Boccanegra is very good but I still give edge overall to ROH Domingo discussed above.

ROH production tells story better although there are nice abstracted visuals in La scala....one was very obviously planned with large angled mirror rear stage in final death scence showing above "god" view of dying Boccanegra in arms of Amelia (director liked it so much we got to see a couple times just in case we missed it, duh yes you are so clever dude) La scala also has technical edge offering blu ray while ROH is only DVD

Both feature Domingo/Furlanetto (Boccanegra/Fiesco) who are excellent again, but different Amelia, Gabriele, and Paolo. Anja Harteros (Amelia) is very good both singing and acting but I like Poplavskaya even better in ROH.....I can connect more closely with her emotionally and I think her acting is also a bit stronger. Still Anja did a fine job worthy of praise, both version have strong Amelia.

The glaring weakness here is Gabriele who is neither young, handsome or physically attractive....romantic chemistry with Amelia must be in your imagination because on stage they are the "odd couple" for sure. :sarcastic:
ROH has completely believable Amelia/Gabriele romance and thus scores big over La Scala

I will of course keep the La Scala Boccanegra but my favorite overall version remains the Domingo ROH


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILFZ0wweaIM&feature=player_detailpage

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
August 19th, 2012, 01:28 PM
This is not a DVD, but rather a video file that a friend sent me, from a TV broadcast in Italy, of this neglected early attempt at comedy by Verdi, Un Giorno di Regno. In my effort to get to know all 27 Verdi operas in anticipation of the bicentennial, I've watched it today.

Giuseppe Verdi
Un Giorno di Regno
Parma, 19 December 1997

Marquise del Poggio - Anna Caterina Antonacci
Giulietta - Cecilia Gasdia
Edoardo de Sanval - Cesare Catani
Chevalier Belfiore - Paolo Coni
Gasparo Antonio della Rocca - Bruno Pratico
Baron de Kelbar - Alfonso Antoniozzi
Delmonte - Demetrio Rabbito
Comte Ivrea - Carlo Bosi

Orchestra Sinfonica dell'Emilia-Romagna "Arturo Toscanini"
Chorus - Cooperativa Artisti del Coro di Parma
Conductor Maurizio Benini

720 x 480, NTSC 4:3, 2 hours 2 minutes.

As we know, when composing this, Verdi was profoundly depressed and grieving the death of his two small children and his young wife in rapid succession, from natural causes. Understandably, he wasn't very cheerful, which is supposedly one of the reasons why this piece was a huge fiasco with public and critic. Other reasons quoted by music historians are the singers at the premiere who apparently weren't very good, as well as the changing mores and political environment, when the Milanese public was craving grand serious patriotic pieces instead of opera buffa (thus their much warmer reception to his next opera, Nabucco).

This production features a 35-year-old Anna Caterina Antonacci. This lady whom I recently met in person and who remains extremely attractive at age 50 was simply stunning at age 35 (we are treated to a slow strip-tease when she enters a bath tube - it stops before revealing anything other than her beautiful legs and generous cleavage, but it is still quite striking). Vocally, she was simply perfect, displaying fierce Bel Canto coloratura, and already exhibited the strong stage presence we've come to associate with her.

I remember what she told me in her interview with Opera Lively [here (http://operalively.com/forums/content.php/557-Opera-Lively-Exclusive-Interview-with-Anna-Caterina-Antonacci)] - that even small houses in Italy up to a decade ago used to have very good productions before the funds started to dry out. Indeed, the supporting cast here is homogeneously excellent - we get another attractive lady in Cecilia Gasdia, and a very good young tenor in Cesare Catani. Unlike the world premiere in Milan, the public in Parma greeted the singers with prolonged applause, requiring several curtain calls.

The staging is traditionalist with period costumes, and is simple but tasteful (being it a Pier Luigi Pizzi production; they're always good), with scenery that slides up and down to smoothly change the various scenes. The orchestra and the conductor do well.

In terms of the opera itself, it's no masterpiece, but it is by no means horrible like its contemporaries seemed to have thought. It's formulaic, with the usual mistaken identities, and two women betrothed to older gentleman but who love younger ones, with the usual father who wants to marry his daughter to the lecherous rich man instead of the dashing pauper, and of course by the end all peace is restored and the two young couples are allowed to marry.

The music is very Rossinian - and in this, it is inferior to what Rossini himself was able to do - this kind of genre not being exactly Verdi's forte, obviously. Especially the first act doesn't seem to take off and the orchestration feels heavy-handed. Probably the depressed Verdi had trouble getting things started, but then got into a bit of a stride for the second act, which becomes much lighter and more enticing, with some compelling comic dialogues between the father and the old suitor, some beautiful melodic arias, and a nice septet to end it all.

Overall, it is nice enough to be stage-worthy, for the sake of festivals that have the purpose of exhibiting the complete works of the master. But it is quite forgettable. This particular production of course is made a lot less forgettable by the formidable and beautiful Antonacci, and I'm glad to have it - may be watching that bath tube scene again.:love8:

The scene is actually available on YouTube, but it's a revival of the same production, again in Parma, and again with Ms. Antonacci, but 13 years later, in 2010. Well, she still looks great. But believe me, she looked even better in 1997 (and her outfit then was a bit more daring). It's with a different conductor as well, this time Donato Renzetti. Still worth watching, of course, so here is the clip:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eVhihQxeXY

Vesteralen
August 24th, 2012, 04:16 PM
Anyway, a good Traviata. Not essential, but a nice recommended buy (and quite obligatory for Ms. Dessay's fans).


I went to the "Education" sub-forum and read a lot of interesting things about La Traviata, but I didn't see any recommended performances on DVD (did I miss that?).

Just wondering, what would be an essential?

Aramis
August 24th, 2012, 04:27 PM
I went to the "Education" sub-forum and read a lot of interesting things about La Traviata, but I didn't see any recommended performances on DVD (did I miss that?).

Just wondering, what would be an essential?

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BAzV9mXNL.jpg

Classic movie version.

I must warn you not to listen to Almaviva when he will try to talk you into buying that Netrebko/Villazon DVD of Traviata, it doesn't appeal so much to those who are not psycho-fans of the soprano star singing there.

Dark_Angel
August 24th, 2012, 04:43 PM
I went to the "Education" sub-forum and read a lot of interesting things about La Traviata, but I didn't see any recommended performances on DVD (did I miss that?).

Just wondering, what would be an essential?

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51m2xSykm-L._SL500_AA300_.jpg


If I could keep only one, this has best combination of Picture, Sound, Performance quality.......
Classic staging with no silly director "experiments"

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
August 24th, 2012, 04:51 PM
(did I miss that?).



Yes, you did. The complete Traviata files have been moved to the Widget under Exclusive Articles -> Opera In-Depth Project -> La Traviata.

http://operalively.com/forums/content.php/146-la-traviata

Among the various articles which are more complete than what you may have read in the Educational subforum, you'll find this one:

http://operalively.com/forums/content.php/431-La-Traviata-on-DVD-and-Blu-ray

Well, I said I didn't want to influence your taste but in this case I'll try, hehehe. Don't listen to the members above. This is the best Traviata on DVD and blu-ray, by far. It features a breathy Anna Netrebko (she gave an interview saying that the physical demands of the staging troubled her breathing) but she looks drop-dead-gorgeous and acts the role very well, and unlike others here, I love the minimalistic staging:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51udBfu-CyL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Amfortas
August 24th, 2012, 06:35 PM
As it happens, I own all three of the DVDs recommended above. The Franco Zeffirelli is a beautiful, lavish film version, well worth adding to any collection. The biggest drawback, perhaps, is Teresa Stratas's vocal difficulty in some of the more florid coloratura passages. By the way, few notice that this "traditional" production changes the opera's ending in exactly the same way as a much-criticized production of an opera by a different composer.

Marta Domingo's LA Opera production is a traditional stage setting, attractive and tasteful. Renee Fleming and Rolando Villazon seem to enjoy one another as a couple, though as our friend Schigolch has pointed out, she waited a bit long to tackle the role. Renato Bruson makes for a wooden Germont.

I also like the Willy Decker bare stage production. There is some rather blatant symbolism (a personified Death figure, a clock to mark the passage of time) but it is employed effectively as the staging unfolds. Anna Netrebko is indeed gorgeous, though subject to the vocal trials Alma acknowledges. For me the real singing star is the young, vocally healthy Rolando Villazon. Again, I don't care much for the Germont of Thomas Hampson.

Sorry I can't make a final recommendation. I'm happy to have all three. :)

HarpsichordConcerto
August 24th, 2012, 08:32 PM
I second Amfortas's observations regarding the Zeffirelli and Domingo/LA Opera production. Cannot go wrong with either. Zeffirelli is one of my very favourite stage directors.

Vesteralen
August 24th, 2012, 09:26 PM
Thanks, everyone. I'll look at all these (and follow Alma's links a little later when I have some time to do it leisurely).

I actually remember seeing the Zefferelli film several years ago. A dear, but now departed friend who suffered from a debilitating illness through most of his life had my wife and I over to his house one night for a "showing". We were both impressed.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
September 2nd, 2012, 07:37 PM
Giovanna d'Arco on DVD

Giovanna d'Arco, dramma lirico with a prologue and three acts, 1845, music by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Temistocle Solera, loosely based on Schiller's The Maid of Orleans.

In my attempt to get all 26 (or 28 if we count Jérusalem and Aroldo) Verdi operas under my belt in anticipation of the bicentennial, I watched today a July 10, 2008 broadcast of TV Parma, live from the Teatro Regio, copied to DVD by one of the bootleg makers. Oh well, I usually don't patronize these folks, but given Verdi's bicentennial, I'm doing what I can. I got this before I learned that the complete works of Giuseppe Verdi are being released later this year on commercial blu-ray.

This is a new production from the Parma Verdi Festival, with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Regio di Parma conducted by Bruno Bartoletti, filmed live for TV on 7.10.2008. Image and sound are quite good for a bootleg product, and Italian subtitles are provided (very accurate, with a correct and complete rendition of the libretto).

Director: Gabriela Lavia.
Sets: Alessandro Camera.
Costumes: Andrea Viotti.
Lighting: Andrea Borelli.

Cast:

Giovanna d’Arco: Svetla Vassileva, soprano
Carlo VII: Evan Bowers, tenor
Giacomo: Roberto Bruson, baritone

The opera itself has nice melodies, good choral music, but is nothing extraordinary. It is pleasant enough, though. I like it, overall. It's interesting to notice that the best numbers are actually the choral ones (of which there are many), rather than the individual arias and duets. For example, "Tu sei bella, pazzarela" is quite interesting. The libretto goes for the historically inaccurate ending of having Jean of Arc fleeing her death at the stake, and instead, dying on the battlefield. It is sort of poorly put together with some gaps. Verdi's 7th opera was composed at short notice to fulfill his La Scala contract and is definitely not one of his best; Verdi liked it, but was unhappy with the way La Scala staged it in its premiere (which drew poor reviews from the critics), and didn't go back to La Scala until 36 years later when he presented there his revised version of Simon Boccanegra. It was, however, fairly successful with the public, given the political environment at the time - substitute Garibaldi for Giovanna, the Italians for the French, and the Austrians for the English, you have the entire Risorgimento set up. In modern times, it has deserved very rare stagings.

About this performance:

The old conductor (82 by the time of this performance) does very well and so does the orchestra. The staging is beautiful - traditional but visually striking with nice lighting and costumes.

So, this is a very well done production with nice theatrical values. The problem with this performance lies on the singers. I'm told that it is difficult to cast well the early Verdi operas because the best contemporary singes are not interested in this repertory, and the regional Italian houses that usually take them up can't afford the top singers anyway.

So, we get here a cute but vocally weak Bulgarian soprano Vassileva who is very shaky in her top notes (and has problems with the low notes too) and generally sounds shrill. Well, the middle of her voice is OK, but not with a great timbre either, so, she is totally forgetful. Evan Bowes is a generic tenor who tends to be thin and insecure at the top. Neither of these singers are good actors.

Giacomo, Joan of Arc's father, is the least bad of the three principals. The veteran singer does a good job overall but has a wide vibrato at his age and sounds nasal.

Overall, B- (it's hard to enjoy a performance when the two principal singers are weak, in spite of the nice orchestra and beautiful staging).

HarpsichordConcerto
September 9th, 2012, 09:26 AM
La Traviata

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41WEKmfrerL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Norah Amsellem, José Bros, Renato Bruson, Itxaro Mentxaka, Maria Espada, Emilio Sánchez, David Rubiera & Marco MoncloaChorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Real, Madrid, Jesús López Cobos, 2005; 2 DVD set.

A nice production for an opera that has been done to death. Bought it very cheap for about US$15 including freight, so no complaints. The best part are three aspects: (1) the pleasant and reasonably stylish staging, (2) baton of Jesús López Cobos and (3) two scenes involving ... boobs/tits.

The singers were generally capable but it was not difficult to immediately remind onself of your own favourites (unless you were new to this opera) to compare. But Norah Amsellem certainly looked the part very well with a beautiful figure, and her voice appealed to me at the lower registers more than it did at the upper. Renato Bruson was excellent as Giorgio Germont, Alfredo's father; probably the strongest singer of the entire cast. José Bros as Alfredo was capable but easily outclassed by other recordings.

The staging was quite beautiful, involving four different scenes of strong contrast. The first scene opened in a warmly lit Paris apartment during WWII (the hint came from two Nazi officers attending the party), and a hint of a topless woman. The second scene looked like a modern apartment setting of bright whites and blues, but recognisably modern and not distracting. The last two scenes were again alternating between the excess of evening parties involving topless gypsies, and the desperate darkness of last minute love revelations.

A nice production to add to your collection of this opera. At the price I paid, no regrets.

Schigolch
September 9th, 2012, 09:39 AM
I watched this performance on the theater.

In a previous season, Angela Gheorghiu, not sharing your opinion about this staging, has cancelled due to "this production is an insult to Verdi himself", (hehehe, now if you can believe *that* coming from her to justify just another of her cancellations). Ms. Norah Amsellem, a relative unknown by then, jumped to the first cast and was very succesful with the audience. Not as much with the critics. Personally, I enjoyed much more the Violetta of Inva Mula, in the second cast.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6Pe4k5rUCY

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
September 9th, 2012, 09:58 AM
I watched this performance on the theater.

In a previous season, Angela Gheorghiu, not sharing your opinion about this staging, has cancelled due to "this production is an insult to Verdi himself", (hehehe, now if you can believe *that* coming from her to justify just another of her cancellations). Ms. Norah Amsellem, a relative unknown by then, jumped to the first cast and was very succesful with the audience. Not as much with the critics. Personally, I enjoyed much more the Violetta of Inva Mula, in the second cast.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6Pe4k5rUCY

Oh wow, I don't like this rendition at all! I'd agree with the critics rather than with the public. Terrible articulation - are we sure she's speaking Italian? - strident top, harsh phrasing with uneven volume.
Inva Mula? She is quite old now, isn't she? When was that?

Schigolch
September 9th, 2012, 10:56 AM
Ms. Mula is not yet fifty.

That series of performances were given in 2005.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3XDkykryBA

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
September 9th, 2012, 11:54 AM
Ms. Mula is not yet fifty.

That series of performances were given in 2005.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3XDkykryBA

So she was in her early 40's, still looking good, and ten times better singer than Ms. Amsellem. I've always loved Ms. Mula, who was stunning when younger. I suppose a very good singer can still do Violetta convincingly even if she is getting a little long in the tooth - e.g., Renée Fleming. They kind of look alike; both are very pretty and classy women who aged well. And Piotr Beczala is also ten times better than the other Alfredo... so, yes, indeed it's understandable that you liked this cast a lot better - it makes the other one feel rather cringe-worthy by comparison. The question then is, why in the hell does the DVD have the weak cast instead of these two world-class singers? I guess it's a matter of exclusive contracts and all, but it is a shame, I'd buy the Mula-Beczala version but I'll definitely not buy the Amsellem-Bros version.

Schigolch
September 9th, 2012, 12:46 PM
This youtube is not for Teatro Real, but for Palacio Euskalduna, in Bilbao.

In the performances of the second cast in Madrid, Rodolfo was Raúl Hernández.

Back to 2005, Norah Amsellem was hot, during a brief period.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
September 20th, 2012, 02:35 AM
Verdi: Aroldo on DVD

Aroldo is the remake of Stiffelio seven years later, since Verdi was not happy with dropping it all together due to the censors, and decided to redo it, relocating the story to Great Britain instead of Germany, and making of the main character a crusader instead of a minister.

It turns out that the libretto for Aroldo - even though it was rewritten by the same Francesco Maria Piave - is actually less accomplished than the libretto for Stiffelio. This is because keeping the main character as a minister is essential to the dramatic elements of the plot. It is a lot more understandable that a betrayed husband will be conflicted about taking revenge if he is a minister whose faith pulls him in the direction of forgiveness. It is a lot less understandable if the cuckold is a soldier, used to solving conflict with his sword. So, the subtle psychological elements in Stiffelio are lost in Aroldo as far as the title role goes (but keep reading, there are upsides as well). Also, while Stiffelio was more musically daring, Verdi sort of regressed to a more conventional approach in Aroldo, adding the obligatory opening chorus (while he had unconventionally opened Stiffelio with a recitative for the bass) and adding a cabaletta when convention asks for one.

However, there are also advantages in Aroldo. First, because Verdi had matured a bit more as a composer - remember, while Stiffelio was composed in 1850 (between Luisa Miller and Rigoletto), it was only redone as Aroldo in 1857 when Verdi already had under his belt Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Les Vêpres Siciliennes, and Simon Boccanegra. Second, because Aroldo has a totally new fourth act, which musicologists do consider to contain music that is superior to the one in the first three acts (which are very similar to Stiffelio's three acts). For example, the tempest music in Aroldo's fourth act is considered to be a worthy precursor to the tempest music in Otello.

So, if you want to be complete in your Verdi exposure, you must get Aroldo as well, otherwise you'll simply not have a piece of his works, that is, Aroldo's fourth act which doesn't exist at all in Stiffelio. Well, on this, we need to trust the Maestro himself, since he wrote to his publisher Ricordi:


Questo quarto atto, siane pur sicuro, è la cosa meno cattiva dell'opera, e trascurandolo dal lato dello spettacolo potrebbe compromettere il complesso dello spartito e divenire un altro Stiffelio." [This act four, you may be assured, is the least bad thing about the opera and neglecting it as spectacle might compromise the score overall and make it another Stiffelio.]

In the opinion of none less than maestro Angelo Mariani, said to be the founding of conducting in Italy, "Aroldo is perhaps one of the finest Verdi works. ... Act IV, which is all new, is amazing: you have a storm with pastoral chorus, and an Angele Dei treated as a canon with excellent musical results."

For Aroldo, Verdi not only wrote new music, but also modified and honed what he had already composed for Stiffelio. And Piave also did not just have to settle for a less subtle psychological approach in Aroldo - there was an upside as far as the libretto goes: he was able to give to the soprano and the baritone stronger material, getting the go-ahead from Verdi who agreed with depicting the unfaithful wife in bolder colors - remember, Verdi's conservative morals had by then been shaken by his reaction to the shunning of his new companion Giuseppina Strepponi by the high society of Busetto, which was behind his decision to set La Traviata to music (they were "living in sin" by then, since they only got married in 1959). The Verdi of 1857 no longer thought that it was necessary to find excuses for women who sinned.

This DVD, with all four acts, is a good production (in spite of the fact that the stage director - the otherwise very good Pier Luigi Pizzi - decided to update it to the 19th century which is not without problems - how do you convey the story of a crusader in the 19th century?). Here is the cover for this version:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51sJP7b1IaL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Aroldo, melodramma in quattro atti (premiered in Rimini, on August 16, 1857) - Music by Giuseppe Verdi; libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on and adapted from their earlier collaboration, Stiffelio (1850), which was in its turned based on the play Le Pasteur, ou L'Évangile et le foyer, by Émile Souvestre and Eugène Bourgeois.

Orchestra della Fondazione Arturo Toscani conducted by Pier Giorgio Morandi
Coro del Teatro Municipale di Piacenza, chorus master Corrado Casati
Stage direction, sets, and costumes by Pier Luigi Pizzi
Lighting by Sergio Rossi
Sung in Italian, recorded live at Teatro Municipale di Piacenza on October 13, 2003
Video Director Giorgio Aballe

Cast
Aroldo - Gustavo Porta
Mina - Adriana Damato
Egberto - Franco Vassallo
Briano - Enrico Giuseppe Iori
Godvino - Valter Borin
Enrico - Antonio Feltracco
Elena - Miriam Artiaco

Bongiovanni/Rai Trade 2006 release, one DVD 9, NTSC 16:9, region code 0 (worldwide); running time 122 minutes; no bonus features.
Sound DD 2.0 and DD 5.1. Optional subtitles in Italian, English, French, and Japanese
Insert with 2-page essay in Italian, English, and French, and chapter list with characters but no duration. No synopsis (one is easily available on Wikipedia).

Image and sound are excellent. After the pleasant overture well executed by this regional Italian orchestra (if a bit too cheerful for the somber topic of this opera) we are treated to rather spectacular singing in the opening scene by these two internationally unknown singers, Gustavo Porta and Adriana Damato - what a surprise! As far as one can gauge these things on DVD, they both are very powerful singers who project well above the orchestra and possess meaty, full voices and very good Italianate phrasing. She navigates her tessitura with more ease than him, who does trip on some high notes. She is also an attractive woman who looks the part and can act. He leaves, her father comes in, and Franco Vassalo doesn't disappoint either. Oh boy, these regional Italian singers are a lot better than I expected.

----

OK, as I kept watching, I entirely changed my mind about Gustavo Porta. While he did well in the opening scene, as soon as the tessitura for his arias went up in act II, his failure to reach the top became more obvious and more painful. This guy is more of a baritenor, maybe he is one of these singers who got wrongly pushed into tenor territory by a misguided voice teacher. I can't fathom how someone who doesn't have a workable top can be billed as a tenor.

Adriana Damato continued to do a stupendous singing/acting job - she is very secure and controls well every aspect of her art. The sets are simple, visually pleasing, and tasteful (as is usually the case with Pizzi). I also liked the fact that Pizzi made of Aroldo a cripple, which compensates for the problem with the libretto I was mentioning before - why this soldier doesn't take revenge in his own hands. Costumes are appropriate to the update. The chorus is also very good. Valter Borin as Godvino is not bad either (possibly better than Gustavo Porta - maybe they should have switched them in the casting). Enrico Iori is another good comprimario.

Here is the overall score for this product: A-. Everything clicks, it's amazing quality for a regional opera house - but the minus is due to the weak "tenor" in the title role. Arguably this should disqualify this product from "A" territory, but watching and listening to Adriana Damato is such a pleasure that I can not say that this is less than highly recommended, given that everything else other than Gustavo Porta's performance is of a rather high quality. And even him, he actually does very well anytime the tessitura is not too high (which is at least half of the time of his stage presence, so the cringe-worthy moments are not dominant).

Regarding the opera itself, it is musically beautiful, in spite of the fact that the plot makes more sense if the title role is a minister rather than a soldier. Musically I like it better than Stiffelio, and the new fourth act is indeed very interesting - rather amazing tempest scene. I do insist that getting to know this fourth act is essential for a complete exposure to the music of Giuseppe Verdi, so I believe that acquiring this opera in some medium is obligatory for the committed Verdi fan.

Available from Amazon.com here (expensive, but less so from their marketplace vendors):

http://www.amazon.com/Verdi-Aroldo-Gustavo-Porta/dp/B000OQF6O0/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1348116161&sr=1-1&keywords=aroldo

Herkku
September 20th, 2012, 07:42 PM
Nabucco

Another old review.

Nabucco was Verdi's third opera and his breakthrough as an opera composer. So, it's very early Verdi and wouldn't perhaps be especially interesting, if it didn't contain the most famous opera chorus of them all, "Va, pensiero" (or The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves), that could very well be the national anthem of Italy, instead of the semihilarious one that sounds more like something from a comic opera by Rossini. Sorry, all Italians! It is said that people began spontaneously to sing it at Verdi's funeral and it became a symbol of the unified Italy. Obviously they should change the lyrics. It could be argued that we Finns should also change ours to the Finlandia Hymn by Sibelius, which would be more effective than the current "Our Land", at least a better composition.

For me, Nabucco is special because of the role of Abigaille that requires a dramatic coloratura soprano, the kind of voice you don't bump into very often. Verdi composed it for Giuseppina Strepponi, who must have been quite a singer, since the role includes huge leaps from high to low and florid writing to be executed with nothing held back. Years later she was to become his wife. The situation resembles Mozart composing the fiendishly difficult concert arias for Aloysia Weber, only he ended up with marrying Aloysia's younger sister.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SSDkYOdYL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

The Met Nabucco (2001), conducted by Levine, is completely traditional in it's staging. After a little cautious start, Samuel Ramey as the high priest of the Jews surprisingly dull (he gets better later on), the things really get going after Abigaille enters. She is sung by the Ukrainian soprano, Maria Guleghina, who simply has what the demanding role needs, and when singing piano, her voice is also quite beautiful. Her "Salgo già del trono aurato" makes you cling to your armchair. I had to listen to it three times over! Nabucco, the king of Babylon and her supposed father, is sung by Juan Pons with equal passion and authority. The two stand apart from the rest of the cast. Fenena, Wendy White (a name new to me), Abigaille's "sister", remains unimpressive until her only aria, which she sings quite well. The two women happen to love the same man, the Jewish Ismaele, sung by Gwyn Hughes Jones (also new to me), who also fails to make much of an impression except by perspiring profusely inspite of his relatively minor tenor role. In addition to "Va, pensiero", the chorus has much to do, and does it well.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51TXE85QXZL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

The other Nabucco from Arena di Verona (1981) could be passed by because of it's completely ridiculous costume design (something resembling Marimekko from the seventies...) and headgear which I won't even try to describe. The sound recording shows it's age, too, but it could be worse. But here we have another spectacular Abigaille, the Bulgarian soprano Ghena Dimitrova, who is at least as impressive as Guleghina, if not more. To my ears she is more at home with the coloratura passages. Renato Bruson as Nabucco is more touching than Pons as the king deprived of his status and held prisoner by Abigaille. The high priest Zaccaria, Dimiter Petkov, Fenena, Bruna Baglione, and Ismaele, Ottavio Garaventa, all surpass their Met counterparts. The chorus, befitting the large arena, is huge, but it's especially their costumes that look so terrible nowadays.

So, the Met version is easily the recommended one of these two, unless you happen to be into the retro fashion in a big way. To complicate matters, there is a DVD with Guleghina at the Arena di Verona and one with Dimitrova at La Scala, but I haven't seen those. If anyone else has, I would be interested to know what they are like. If you want to experience Dimitrova's Abigaille, I would recommend the CD version conducted by Sinopoli.

Herkku
September 20th, 2012, 07:49 PM
Oberto

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Ufdd6cDfL.jpg

Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio, Verdi's first opera, already shows his melodic gifts, and if there is an occasional nod toward Donizetti, the whole is unmistakably Verdi. The music is definitely worth hearing. The opera had it's premiere at La Scala, no less. Quite an achievement for a beginning opera composer!

The plot: Oberto (Ildar Abdrazakov)'s daughter, Leonora (Evelyn Herlitzius) has been seduced by Riccardo (Carlo Ventre), who is about to marry Cuniza (Marianne Cornetti). Riccardo and Cuniza are kind of on the enemy side for Oberto, after a lost battle. Leonora, in her despair, turns directly to Cuniza to get Riccardo back. Cuniza agrees. Meanwhile, Oberto is not yet satisfied, but is killed in a duel with Riccardo, who flees, leaving Leonora with the ultimate solution (in this production) of stabbing herself to death.

My reference here is the audio recording conducted by Lamberto Gardelli (1989) with Carlo Bergonzi (what a Verdi tenor with finesse!), Ghena Dimitrova (a vocal cannon, but capable of softer singing, too), Ruza Baldani (of whom I haven't heard anything since) and Rolando Panerai. There is a newer version also on CD, conducted by Marriner (with Guleghina, Urmana, Ramey) but I haven't heard it. Ildar Abdrazakov, as Oberto, is by far the best singer here. Herlitzius has a very intrusive vibrato for a youngish singer. Cornetti is more than a little matronly to be anyone's bride. Ventre is a tenor, but he makes me achingly aware of Bergonzi's performance.

The question remains: is there any added value in seeing this opera vs. just listening to it? At least the production is completely traditional, devoid of any modern gimmicks. Still, my general answer would be no. If you are a fanatic collector (like I am), there aren't any alternatives on DVD, yet.

Herkku
September 20th, 2012, 07:56 PM
Another old review.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/518Q8rCqdKL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Suggested alternative titles: Much Ado About a Handkerchief or Blood, Sweat and Tears.

It's a long leap from Oberto to Otello, but here we are. This performance is from Salzburg Festival 2008. All the protagonist are new to me, Otello - Aleksandrs Antonenko, Jago - Carlos Álvarez, Desdemona - Marina Poplavskaya. The conductor is Riccardo Muti.

The production is a mixture of modern sets (not distracting) and traditional costumery, nothing to complain of there.

All of the three singers are very good. The Desdemona of Marina Poplavskaya is a real find to me, a true lirico spinto with a very beautiful voice and dramatic skills to match. Antonenko and Álvarez sing very well, too, but fail to convey the strong emotions needed here, although they seem to try hard enough, both covered in sweat (hence the second alternative title). I mean that the overall experience seen by the audience may have been excellent, but with the cruel camera close-ups (showing the strings of saliva and slime between even Desdemona's teeth!), you are left wondering about the lack of facial expressions. My favourite Otello has always been Domingo, Domingo, Domingo, and then, a bit unorthodoxically, Carlo Cossutta, whose tenor robusto suits the part (and paired with Margaret Price as Desdemona, pure bliss!). Having said all this, I look forward to hear and see more of this trio, notably Poplavskaya, but also the other two. Antonenko seems to have no vocal troubles at all singing the demanding role of Otello. Given some time to mature, who knows what he could achieve. The same goes with Álvarez, who has a very handsome voice, but simply doesn't sound evil enough.

Herkku
September 20th, 2012, 08:00 PM
I Lombardi

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/511P2GPKQZL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

A suggested subtitle: Verdi's Violin Concerto with some singing.

I am only kidding with the suggested subtitle here. The singing is most definitely what matters here. Still, for the beginning of the last act, Verdi has written the longest violin solo in his operas. And it doesn't end when the singing begins, but accompanies the wonderful trio which starts the act vocally, although the violin is not so clearly audible with the voices, compared to a studio recording by Hungaroton I used to have.

I did jump from the rather unsatisfactory Oberto to the quite convincing Otello. Now we are back with early Verdi. As there isn't a DVD of Un giorno di regno (badly needed, as an early comic opera by Verdi) and Nabucco having already been dealt with, the next in line is I Lombardi alla prima crociata.

And what a performance! It's from 1984 and La Scala. The picture and sound quality are perfectly acceptable. The performance is quite traditional. I have no idea of the ages of the other members. At least you must be aware of José Carreras, who is in his prime here. In the end of 80's he was diagnosed having leukemia, from which he recovered fully but his voice didn't. Another star here is Ghena Dimitrova, the Bulgarian vocal miracle, whom I have mentioned in the Nabucco from the Arena di Verona and also in my review of Verdi's Oberto as a reference. She also performed Turandot a lot, and that can have been the cause of her disappearance from the operatic world. As I have a gap of several years following the goings-on, I don't know what became of her. But here she sings wonderfully, showing the whole scale of her vocal resources. And they are remarkable. Her forte singing may have been audible in the neighbouring streets, but she also does some exquisite pianissimo passages. For my money, this DVD is worth having for these two singers alone.

You are probably not likely to see a staging of this opera in the near future, considering the subject matter, the clash between the Christians and the Muslims (indeed a fullblown battle scene between the two), although we have converts here both ways. After the huge success of "Va, pensiero" of Nabucco, Verdi has included a chorus which resembles it (after which there is a burst of fervent applause from the audience).

Once more: for the enjoyment of Carreras and the excitement of Dimitrova, this is a performance well worth seeing and hearing.

Soave_Fanciulla
September 20th, 2012, 08:35 PM
Oberto
The question remains: is there any added value in seeing this opera vs. just listening to it? At least the production is completely traditional, devoid of any modern gimmicks. Still, my general answer would be no. If you are a fanatic collector (like I am), there aren't any alternatives on DVD, yet.

But there will be in October 2012 (UK release)

http://i.prs.to/t_200/cmajor720008.jpg



As there isn't a DVD of Un giorno di regno (badly needed, as an early comic opera by Verdi)... And this is coming at the same time too.

http://i.prs.to/t_200/cmajor720208.jpg

Aksel
September 20th, 2012, 09:32 PM
After a little cautious start, Samuel Ramey as the high priest of the Jews surprisingly dull (he gets better later on), the things really get going after Abigaille enters. She is sung by the Ukrainian soprano, Maria Guleghina, who simply has what the demanding role needs, and when singing piano, her voice is also quite beautiful. Her "Salgo già del trono aurato" makes you cling to your armchair. I had to listen to it three times over!

Guleghina's early Verdi heroines are always so exciting!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-Mtwbx2pEI

Dark_Angel
September 20th, 2012, 09:58 PM
Nabucco
For me, Nabucco is special because of the role of Abigaille that requires a dramatic coloratura soprano, the kind of voice you don't bump into very often. Verdi composed it for Giuseppina Strepponi, who must have been quite a singer, since the role includes huge leaps from high to low and florid writing to be executed with nothing held back. Years later she was to become his wife. The situation resembles Mozart composing the fiendishly difficult concert arias for Aloysia Weber, only he ended up with marrying Aloysia's younger sister.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SSDkYOdYL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

The Met Nabucco (2001), conducted by Levine, is completely traditional in it's staging. After a little cautious start, Samuel Ramey as the high priest of the Jews surprisingly dull (he gets better later on), the things really get going after Abigaille enters. She is sung by the Ukrainian soprano, Maria Guleghina, who simply has what the demanding role needs, and when singing piano, her voice is also quite beautiful. Her "Salgo già del trono aurato" makes you cling to your armchair. I had to listen to it three times over! Nabucco, the king of Babylon and her supposed father, is sung by Juan Pons with equal passion and authority. The two stand apart from the rest of the cast. Fenena, Wendy White (a name new to me), Abigaille's "sister", remains unimpressive until her only aria, which she sings quite well. The two women happen to love the same man, the Jewish Ismaele, sung by Gwyn Hughes Jones (also new to me), who also fails to make much of an impression except by perspiring profusely inspite of his relatively minor tenor role. In addition to "Va, pensiero", the chorus has much to do, and does it well..

Callas is the ideal Abigaille, a dominant force that defies all previous or subsequent performances......Maria was so exciting because her voice did not become smaller in high notes but instead seemed to grow ever stronger and hit you with incredibly powerful impact. Young Callas in 1949 did a few live Nabuccos that despite limited sound are just awe inspiring, check the climax at 2:24.....


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmlTwizXEMA&feature=player_detailpage

HarpsichordConcerto
September 21st, 2012, 01:29 AM
Is this Rigoletto worth buying? Note: it appears the label has released a much cheaper version, for whatever reason, for about US$10 on Blu-ray.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51YEcRT2UBL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

sospiro
September 21st, 2012, 05:05 AM
But there will be in October 2012 (UK release)

http://i.prs.to/t_200/cmajor720008.jpg

And this is coming at the same time too.

http://i.prs.to/t_200/cmajor720208.jpg

These two are at the top of my list!

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
September 21st, 2012, 11:06 AM
Is this Rigoletto worth buying? Note: it appears the label has released a much cheaper version, for whatever reason, for about US$10 on Blu-ray.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51YEcRT2UBL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

The $10 price is because they are using this as a publicity vehicle, with the bonus feature showing 130 minutes of trailers for their other products. They did the same for a Traviata. Although I haven't seen this Rigoletto, I think that at this price there is no way that it is not worth it, because you get a fine singer like Piotr Beczala, then you get the 130 minutes of trailers which although always and by nature a mixed bag, can be curious too.

Herkku
September 21st, 2012, 04:26 PM
Leo Nucci can be a real bore, though.

Herkku
September 21st, 2012, 04:36 PM
Another old review.

918

Well, well, well. Here we have something really traditional, not to say historical. What can I say about this? "And now, for something completely different" - as Monty Python would have said. He could indeed have directed this... I'm surprised that Verdi was performed like this as late as 1957. I would have thought that this kind of "traditional performance" would be from the beginning of the last century. The only thing that I miss here are the Marx brothers and we would have "A Night at the Opera". But here we are, dead serious, at La Scala and a performance of Il Trovatore with a starry cast: the Turkish soprano Leyla Gencer, Mario del Monaco, Ettore Bastiniani and Fedora Barbieri. I bought this because of Leyla Gencer, whom I had heard singing Donizetti's Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux on CD quite impressively. I shouldn't have bothered, although this DVD has been given much praise by the customers of a famous netshop...

I don't mind the grainy b&w picture, not even the mono sound that leaves a lot to be desired, although I hate having to imagine what this could sound like with the modern technology. But the whole production seems ridiculous and the conducting for a great part is the worst kind of rigorous tam-di-dam Verdi (Fernando Previtali). Barbieri as Azucena has the eyes of a madwoman that could have been very effective in the era of silent movies. Mario del Monaco "can belto". Bastiniani as Conte di Luna is the most convincing character. Gencer may not be bad, but she sounds so much better in the studio recordings, and looks funny in her costumes.

When I think that Solti's Rheingold recording was begun the next year and the video from the second act of Tosca featuring Callas and Gobbi is also from 1958, I can't understand that this performance could be only a year older.

There has not been very much discussion of older performances on DVD. This one certainly leaves me disappointed.

Herkku
September 21st, 2012, 04:41 PM
Rigoletto

Another old review.

919

As much as I have loved the voice of Christine Schäfer in lieder by Schumann, Strauss and Debussy, and Mozart's concert arias, I think she is completely miscast here - in a performance from The Royal Opera House Covent Garden (2000?). Her voice just isn't right for Verdi. I had to take a pause after "Caro nome" and listen to the first comparison on CD I could lay my hands on, namely the Verdi Heroines by Anghela Gheorgiou, to hear how much more emotion can be infused to every phrase of the aria. I can understand that underlining the innocence of the young girl may have been in mind of the director, but I don't feel that Gilda should sound like someone from the church choir.

I am not too keen on the Duke of Marcelo Alvarez, either. He is not "inside" of his role, although his voice is at least more appropriate.

The only wholly convincing character here is the Rigoletto of Paolo Gavanelli, singing with whom Schäfer sounds all the more ingongruous.

Add to this the full-blown orgies of the beginning, with complete nudity (both female and male), and just short of actual copulation on stage.

I have nothing more to say.

Herkku
September 21st, 2012, 05:05 PM
Another old review.

An alternative title: Politics, the power of the Catholic Church, love and duty.

I must begin with my all-time reference audio recording of Don Carlo, namely the one from 1970, conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini, with Domingo, Caballé, Verrett, Milnes and Raimondi. It has the Fontainebleau Act (which makes sense dramatically, presenting the would-have-been married couple of Don Carlo and Elisabetta meeting for the first time and really falling in love, instead of all of that being just a fait accompli) with its marvellous music for the young lovers never to be united. Without it there would not be a single happy moment in the opera. I know that my enthusiasm about this recording is not universal, but for me it's special. What I'm trying to do here is to compare five performances of Don Carlo/Don Carlos on DVD.

Perhaps it should be noted that there are several versions of the opera, perhaps more than any other opera of Verdi. For practical reasons it is most commonly performed in its four-act version, omitting the said Fontainebleau act, but lasting long enough for an opera evening. At the other end is the Abbado audio recording with absolutely everything Verdi wrote for this opera, approaching Wagnerian propositions. Then we have versions in Italian and French, the latter being the language of the premiere in Paris.

920

Let us begin with the oldest performance, which comes from the Met (1983) conducted by James Levine. The setup is completely traditional. Alas, here the performance would be better without the Fontainebleau act, which is curiously unsuccessful. Domingo, singing the title role, almost steals the show. He stands miles apart from the rest as a singer who can not only act and sing at the same time, but act with his formidable voice and with his facial expressions that seem to reflect perfectly the emotions of the character. As Elisabetta, Mirella Freni disappoints in the Fontainebleau act. She had already recorded the role of Elisabetta with Herbert von Karajan, but in the usual four-act version, quite convincingly. So, maybe the first act here was just new to her. It made me fear the worst for the rest, but she sings admirably after that, coping well enough with "Tu, che le vanità". Grace Bumbry as princess Eboli is formidable. I don't know if the eye-patch she is wearing is part of the production or if she is suffering from some acute medical opthalmological condition - it certainly doesn't affect her voice. It would be interesting to hear her sing the role of Elisabetta! She seems to have the high notes well within her reach. Nicolai Ghiaurov, as Philip II, seems to be the most amiable singer of the role. At first I thought that he cannot show his real feelings publicly, but when we come to the beautiful soliloquy, when he is alone and sings of the wife who has never loved her, one would expect some kind of feelings of sorrow, maybe even despair, even from a king. None of that, he just sings the aria most beautifully. Maybe the fact that he was already married to Mirella Freni IRL (until his death in 2004) had something to do with that. Louis Quilico gives a strong performance of Rodrigo. Overall, apart from the first act, everyone seems to be at home here, but our quest for the best Don Carlo/Don Carlos continues.

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The next performance chronologically is the one from the Salzburg Easter festival 1986, conducted by Herbert von Karajan. His roster of singers is very impressive: José Carreras as Don Carlo, Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip II, Piero Cappuccilli as Rodrigo, Matti Salminen as The Grand Inquisitor, Agnes Baltsa as the princess Eboli, and as a relative newcomer, Fiamma Izzo d'Amico, as Elisabetta. The four-act version is used. The setup is completely traditional here, too. An annoying fact is that the subtitles are bright yellow and I had to turn them off. Apparently yellow subtitles are used in the far east, but I can't stand them. Surprisingly, the picture quality seems a bit grainier than in the Met recording. Carreras is in fine voice here, but interestingly, after having just seen Domingo in the earlier performance, his face remains almost expressionless throughout the opera. That doesn't mean that his singing is expressionless. Maybe it's just a question of temperament. What comes to Domingo as a natural part of singing must be a special gift. Fiamma Izzo d'Amico fails to impress me until "Tu, che le vanità", which is good enough, but this is a whole opera where she should be "in it" from the beginning. Another of Karajan's finds, presumably. Cappuccilli's Rodrigo is pure luxury. Baltsa's "O don fatale" is not for the weak-hearted. She was all the rage in the eighties, especially in Rossini. What became of her? Matti Salminen as The Grand Inquisitor with his Wagnerian voice certainly puts fear in the heart of even a king. The king, Furlanetto, sings well, but as with the older performance, I miss something in the "Ella giammai m'amò!".

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A big leap in time to the year 1996, to the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris. Here we have Don Carlos in French, conducted by Antonio Pappano and the Fontainebleau act successfully presented. There is some extra music in the beginning of the garden scene and after Posa's death, nothing remarkable though. The general setup is modernized traditional. But what we really have here is the Elisabeth of Karita Mattila, who surpasses even my reference, Caballé! She doesn't look a bit like a Frenchwoman, but simply a modern Nordic woman she is, up to her hairdo. She just sings perfectly, with a fresh, healthy, clear, strong and beautiful soprano voice. And I'm not saying this because she is my compatriot. Roberto Alagna as Don Carlos sings magnificently, too. I hadn't realized that he is so short. José van Dam is a reliable Philippe. Thomas Hampson as Rodrigue is handsome both vocally and visually. Waltraud Meier as Princess Eboli is a surprise to me, because she has sung so much Wagner lately, but her voice is flexible enough to handle the florid passages of the Saracen Song. The Grand Inquisitor of Eric Halvfarson is scary indeed.

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After the previous version I thought that "there it is!". How was I to know? The next in line is Don Carlo from De Nederlandse Opera (2004), conducted by Riccardo Chailly. I have never seen so imaginative and innovative staging before. Everything takes place in a giant crypt with marble plaques of former rulers and other important people. This backround is changed only for the nightly garden scene, when a starry sky descends. And it works perfectly like this! Robert Lloyd gives a magnificient performance as Philip, and for once, I hear real sorrow in his aria. As Don Carlo, we have Rolando Villazón, who is vocally impeccable, but looks like a madman most of the time (Mr Bean comes to mind). Well, if your father should marry the girl you are in love with, wouldn't you go crazy? Dwayne Croft as Rodrigo is a new name to me, but not the worse for that. Violeta Urmana as Princess Eboli leaves nothing to be desired. Jaakko Ryhänen as The Grand Inquisitor, is very impressive. What I had feared most was the Elisabetta of Amanda Roocroft, my favourite Fiordiligi on video, but she is adequate, although stretched to her limits by the role.

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The performance from La Scala (2008) seems to me to be a mere dress rehearsal, and not particularly successful even as such. Here we have completely modern and simplistic sets (although cleverly used), but traditional costumes, except for the chorus in the auto-da-fé scene, where its members are wearing fairly modern clothing. Why? Child counterparts are used for Don Carlo, Rodrigo and Elisabetta, as a remembrance of happier times in their youth, but also taking part of the present. This seems a bit ridiculous with Elisabetta, whom Don Carlo did meet only once before, already believing to be her fiancé. But then we have the singers. To begin with, Stuart Neill singing Don Carlo is so obese that it's embarrassing to watch him move on the stage. His tenor voice is acceptable, but nothing to write home about. Dolora Zajick as Eboli is almost as incredible cursing her beauty. Fiorenza Cedolins as Elisabetta remains a question mark to me. How can someone sing a nearly perfect Norma and remain an also-ran in everything else? Dalibor Jenis as Rodrigo is very good (he even uses his trill twice), but as much as he wants to save La Fiandra, he cannot save this performance. Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip is not that bad either. But as a whole, this is best left untouched.

The final verdict: Forget the La Scala version. If you want Don Carlos in French, there is no competition. Even if you can stand it in French, Karita Mattila is worth hearing here. In Italian, the production of De Nederlandse Opera would be my first choice, not least because of its modern picture and sound quality. In an ideal world we should have the performance from Amsterdam with Placido Domingo (from 1983) and Karita Mattila (from 1996).

Herkku
September 21st, 2012, 05:11 PM
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La battaglia di Legnano is not from Verdi's top drawer. In fact, I don't think that seeing this performance from Teatro Massimo Bellini di Catania, gives much added value compared to just listening to the music. It was recorded as part of the Gardelli Verdi collection, with Carreras and Ricciarelli, both still freshly voiced.

There is nothing wrong with the singers here, none of whom I have heard before. The conductor, Nello Santi, is the only name familiar to me, and how old he looks now! Elisabete Matos has a more dramatic voice the Ricciarelli as Lida, although not as beautiful. Cesar Hernandez as Arrigo may not sound as appealing as Carreras, but has no difficulties with his role. I could go on but there is no point. The whole performance feels provincial. The chorus, for example, while having many patriotic numbers to sing (this was one effort by Verdi to raise spirits among Italians towards an unified Italy), is clothed modernishly, while everything is supposed to happen in the 12th century. The principals, at least, have appropriate costumes.

The music itself is reliable Verdi, with some beautiful arias. All in all, I would say that if you are not absolutely obsessed with having everything by Verdi on DVD (as I am, but my horoscope sign is cancer - so I'm a natural born collector), you can pass this for the time being.

Herkku
September 21st, 2012, 05:22 PM
Aida

Another old review.

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After the disappointment of Stemme's Strauss CD, I began this Aida with misgivings, just to be positively surprised, for the most part.

The performance is from Zürich Opera House 2006. First of all, the filmed version makes you forget or keeps you unaware of the fact that this is a relatively small stage for such a grand-scale opera. I have read a few comments in Amazon, many of which felt the split screen effect, used quite often, to be distracting. It doesn't bother me at all - quite the contrary. Why not use the extra possibilities of the media? I like to see a close-up of the singers and a general view at the same time.

Another aspect that some would find exceedingly annoying is the time-shift from the time of pharaos to the end of the 19th century. This brings along more inconsistencies than I care to mention. Suffice it to say that Egypt was mainly a Muslim country then and the prayers to the ancient gods appear incongruous. Also the presence of the British in all this may seem ridicilous and the war between Egypt and Ethiopia most unlikely under the British rule, the king being a mere viceroy.

But, if you can ignore the things mentioned above, you are in for a musical treat! We can begin with Nina Stemme as Aida, the main reason for my purchasing this DVD. Most of the time, she sings gloriously. When singing on-stage, she seems to transform into something much more interesting than the singer on her studio CD. She is simply not one to drown under the full chorus and orchestra and in her singing she is able to convey some kind of emotion, too. Alas, she seems to be unable to sing nothing much softer than mezzoforte and when she tries, her voice gets kind of hoarse, as in the end of O Patria mia. Still, she is a joy to hear. What troubles me more is that she is next to expressionless, I mean facially, especially when she is not singing but hearing something that should move her and she keeps just pouting (I'm not sure if this is the correct term).

Radames, Salvatore Licitra, a new name to me, is very good and also acts both with his voice and his body, as a true Italian tenor can. Still, he is not a Bergonzi, as evidenced in the end of Celeste Aida! Amneris, Luciana D'Intino, as another Italian in the cast, gives a truly convincing performance as a contender for the love of Radames - no lack of emotion here! Ramfis is portrayed by the ever-reliable Matti Salminen, Amonasro by Juan Pons, who is also very impressive.

The orchestra is conducted by Adam Fischer, who seems to favour fairly crisp tempos, but I liked it so.

The final verdict: if you can stand the rather absurd time-shift, this is musically a very rewarding experience.

Herkku
September 21st, 2012, 05:30 PM
Another old review.

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An alternative title suggested: A Pirate of Firm Principles (beyond belief)

Il Corsaro was based on a poem by Lord Byron. The plot is not strong and the opera is a bit surprising, coming after Attila and Macbeth, but it's not without its merits: the arias are mostly very beautiful. Seeing Pasha Seid with his muslim troops praying to Allah for saving them from the Christian pirates to disturb their peace and quiet is certainly a change in this time and age.

My only reference here is the audio recording conducted by Gardelli, featuring Jessye Norman as Medora, Monserrat Caballe as Gulnara and José Carreras as Corrado - what a treat from the seventies! If you don't care to have this on DVD, it's definitely worth the while, just for listening to those voices still fresh.

Here we have at least a traditional performance from Parma (2004), conducted by Renato Palumbo. As Corrado, Zvetan Michailov, may not be a tenor of great finesse, but there is no much room for finesse, so he is perfectly acceptable. As Medora - by far the less interesting soprano role - there is Michela Sburlati, no match for the young Norman, but not bad. Gulnara, the more interesting of the women, is sung by Adriana Damato, who is really good. I wouldn't like to begin to compare her with Caballe, though. I wouldn't dare. Suffice it to say that Monzi couldn't have performed to role wearing the same kind of attire, most suitable for belly dancing... And Adriana has an exciting and beautiful and powerful voice of her own, suitable acting talents, too. That leaves us Pasha Seid, Renato Bruson, an old dog, already a markedly wide vibrato in his long notes, but still convincing. Who says that this Pasha should be a young man? Even older people have their passions.

The production is, I think, cleverly traditional. Maybe all the ropes hanging from the above when Corrado is held captive and waiting for his execution, might be considered a modern solution, but they could have been there in the premiere, as far as I'm concerned. The whole use of the stage and sets appeal to me.

Oh, I almost forgot my alternative title! Who in his right mind would refuse help to escape the execution waiting the next day, if not our brave Corrado, if it would mean stabbing the Pasha in his sleep? A moment earlier he was only too eager to kill all infidels in battle. So, he has his saviouress, Gulnara, do the killing, and even after that showing reluctance to escape with her. On returning to his homeland with Gulnara, her beloved Medora has just drunk poison, believing Corrado to have died already, still having a few minutes for a farewell. Still, Corrado doesn't see the other woman who has fallen in love with him, risked her own life rescuing him - and looking and singing much better. He prefers to drown in the sea. How is that for an eternal love? Let's be united in heaven!

sospiro
September 21st, 2012, 05:38 PM
Leo Nucci can be a real bore, though.

I have to agree. He doesn't have much stage presence or charisma & that isn't anything to do with cosmetic good looks. Bryn Terfel is nicely ugly but has terrific presence.

sospiro
September 21st, 2012, 05:40 PM
Thanks Herkku for copying all your excellent reviews over to here. It's great to have them on Opera Lively & I'm enjoying reading them again.

Schigolch
September 21st, 2012, 05:53 PM
I have to agree. He doesn't have much stage presence or charisma & that isn't anything to do with cosmetic good looks. Bryn Terfel is nicely ugly but has terrific presence.

What do you mean by "stage presence" or "charisma"...?

Leo Nucci has been singing for forty years, and he has the record among active singers for encores, by far. I have watched audiences go wild with him in Spain and Italy, and he has a very big number of fans.

Then, as with any other opera singer, he is not without defects, and he can be liked a lot, a little bit, or not at all by any given Opera fan, but you can't deny he is full of "stage presence" (perhaps, in those days, even too much "stage presence") and "charisma".

Aksel
September 21st, 2012, 11:36 PM
Grace Bumbry as princess Eboli is formidable. I don't know if the eye-patch she is wearing is part of the production or if she is suffering from some acute medical opthalmological condition - it certainly doesn't affect her voice.

I'm sure you already know this, but just in case some people are wondering (as you would when you see someone said to be the most beautiful woman in Spain wearing an eye-patch) why Princess Eboli wears an eye-patch in some productions (and really should do so in all production of Don Carlo(s)): It is because the real Princess Eboli, Doña Ana de Mendoza y de la Cerda lost her left eye in a mock duel with a page in her childhood. It's one of my personal irks when people complain about those crazy Regie directors having Eboli wearing an eye-patch.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ec/La_princesa_de_Éboli.jpg


And yes, that Baltsa Eboli performance is fabulous, isn't it?

Dark_Angel
September 30th, 2012, 07:20 PM
Is this Rigoletto worth buying? Note: it appears the label has released a much cheaper version, for whatever reason, for about US$10 on Blu-ray.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51YEcRT2UBL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

This is really a very good Rigoletto, a tremendous bargain that should be purchased without hesitation!

The production is traditional (with some modern attire tossed in) with a dazzling lush opening ball/orgy sequence later scences were more minimalist in detail, blu ray pays full dividends here showing amazing details in the lavish shimmering costumes opening ball. Beczala was much better than I dared hoped as the duke, lacking a bit in the dazzling bel canto technique of JDF performance but still very high standard of singing and his acting left nothing to be desired, I wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised the high level a performance, bravo

Elena Mosuc as Gilda is new to me, but she did a fine job and her caro nome aria was very delicate and purely detailed requiring return to stage for applause recognition. Again nothing to really fault here even if she will not surpass recent Damrau performances, physically she is attractive with nice stage presence.
One annoyance the camera framing for caro nome aria starts way back and very slowly zooms in, the song is half over before we see proper detail of Gilda.....

Now for Leo Nucci........
Yes he is old but with age comes irreplacable experience at careful character development. The role of Riggoletto is not terribly taxing vocally instead more focussed on character transition and pathos leading to the painful loss of his precious Gilda, I have no complaints with Nucci here and think he compares well to other Rigolettos giving us a very good performance.

Although Sparafucile could have been played a bit more sly and sinister, his sister Maddalena for once is attractive and believable seducer of the duke in final scence so overall this is a strong Rigoletto, buy with confidence at this insanely low price!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=F5jz81X-OGU

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
September 30th, 2012, 09:11 PM
I bought it, and have received it in the mail already - still in my unwatched pile. For $9.99 and we get Piotr Beczala, what's not to like?

But DA, why weren't you expecting much from Piotr? He's a very fine tenor.

Herkku
September 30th, 2012, 10:52 PM
I'm sure you already know this, but just in case some people are wondering (as you would when you see someone said to be the most beautiful woman in Spain wearing an eye-patch) why Princess Eboli wears an eye-patch in some productions (and really should do so in all production of Don Carlo(s)): It is because the real Princess Eboli, Doña Ana de Mendoza y de la Cerda lost her left eye in a mock duel with a page in her childhood. It's one of my personal irks when people complain about those crazy Regie directors having Eboli wearing an eye-patch.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ec/La_princesa_de_Éboli.jpg


And yes, that Baltsa Eboli performance is fabulous, isn't it?

The information about the eyepatch was news to me. After all, we are dealing with real historical characters here and these details matter. Inspite of the eyepatch Eboli thinks that she is quite beautiful. Otherwise she couldn't curse her beauty! How's that for real? How many women with an eyepatch complaining about their beauty do you know?

Aksel
October 1st, 2012, 12:49 AM
The information about the eyepatch was news to me. After all, we are dealing with real historical characters here and these details matter. Inspite of the eyepatch Eboli thinks that she is quite beautiful. Otherwise she couldn't curse her beauty! How's that for real? How many women with an eyepatch complaining about their beauty do you know?

Certainly not anyone I know. Although it should be said that I don't know anyone who wears an eye-patch.
And I think the thing about Eboli is that not only does she herself think she is beautiful, but it is generally the public opinion of her (at least that was the case of the real-life Eboli). So it's not merely opinion, it's a kind of popular fact, if it's possible to call it that (in my head it is, but a lot of things are possible up there).

Also, I just noticed that I wrote left eye when I should have written right eye. I should really take some time and learn the difference between left and right.

HarpsichordConcerto
October 1st, 2012, 06:39 AM
This is really a very good Rigoletto, a tremendous bargain that should be purchased without hesitation!



Bought. Done. Peer Group Pressure.

Nervous Gentleman
October 10th, 2012, 11:41 PM
I would appreciate it if Opera Lively members would please offer their opinions as to the best (and most complete) versions of "Aida" available on home video.

Thanks.

Paul

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
October 11th, 2012, 02:52 AM
Aïda is another opera that surprisingly is not very well represented on DVD. This one is generally considered to be the standard-bearer:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61BRCB4DV8L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

There are, however, those who swear by this one, which is peculiar: done in the very small theater in Busseto (Verdi's birthplace) with young singers coached by Bergonzi, in a Zeffirelli production:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ocK91gR%2BL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Soave_Fanciulla
October 11th, 2012, 05:49 AM
There are, however, those who swear by this one, which is peculiar: done in the very small theater in Busseto (Verdi's birthplace) with young singers coached by Bergonzi, in a Zeffirelli production:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ocK91gR%2BL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

I would recommend this one too. It replaces spectacle with a focus on the interpersonal relationships between the protagonists.

Schigolch
October 11th, 2012, 07:19 AM
The Domingo-Millo-Zajick-Milnes option is a good one, indeed.

Another possibility:

http://www.vaimusic.com/Merchant2/graphics/00000001/4420-main_204x290.jpg


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3h0eCb0goDU

HarpsichordConcerto
October 11th, 2012, 10:19 AM
Yes, the Levine / Metropolitan Opera version is my favourite. Though the imposing and lavish production do tend to swamp any intimacy between the leads.

Aksel
October 11th, 2012, 12:57 PM
Yes, the Levine / Metropolitan Opera version is my favourite. Though the imposing and lavish production do tend to swamp any intimacy between the leads.

Why would you want intimacy when there are ELEPHANTS!

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
October 11th, 2012, 02:51 PM
Why would you want intimacy when there are ELEPHANTS!

Huh... elephantine intimacy? Elephants can love too, you know?:tears_of_joy:

Amfortas
October 11th, 2012, 10:46 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ocK91gR%2BL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

I bought this one because it came so highly recommended. Honestly, I didn't care for it as much as I had hoped.

But I'm not a big Aida person to begin with (much preferring the operas that flank it chronologically, Don Carlo and Otello), so I'm the wrong person to offer advice. :(

Aramis
October 13th, 2012, 06:58 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ocK91gR%2BL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

I bought this one because it came so highly recommended. Honestly, I didn't care for it as much as I had hoped.

But I'm not a big Aida person to begin with (much preferring the operas that flank it chronologically, Don Carlo and Otello), so I'm the wrong person to offer advice. :(

I wouldn't buy anything with name like "Scott Piper" on the cover. You can't be great tenor with name like that. I've just checked him on YouTube and he's almost exactly like I imagined basing on the name. I recognize voice quality just from the name alone. What a power I posses.

Amfortas
October 13th, 2012, 09:44 PM
I wouldn't buy anything with name like "Scott Piper" on the cover. You can't be great tenor with name like that. I've just checked him on YouTube and he's almost exactly like I imagined basing on the name. I recognize voice quality just from the name alone. What a power I posses.

Does this power work in conjunction with your mind's ears that allow you to hear what can't be heard in reality?

Aramis
October 13th, 2012, 09:49 PM
Does this power work in conjunction with your mind's ears that allow you to hear what can't be heard in reality?

http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlDC/files/original/mystery.jpg

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
October 21st, 2012, 10:48 PM
Rigoletto on Blu-Ray: the Leo Nucci show!

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51YEcRT2UBL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Well, this was a surprise. I confess that not being a big fan of Leo Nucci, I bought this because it is such a bargain, for $12, with bonus features including 130 minutes of highlights of other ArtHaus Musik opera and ballet blu-rays.

But Leo Nucci blew me away! The veteran singer here delivers an extraordinary performance both vocally (in spite of his aging voice) and as an actor, which in itself more than justifies this purchase - even at regular price, and even more when it's such a value. It is not for nothing that he is the only singer depicted on the cover: it's his show! And what a show he puts together!

http://pixhost.me/avaxhome/2f/59/000c592f_medium.jpeg

And then we get Piotr Beczala, who does a great Duca, in my opinion much better than Juan Diego Flórez's in the recent blu-ray with Damrau. The problem for JDF is that he is a light tenor and this role needs a bit more meat. I wouldn't fault JDF for it, he is otherwise an extraordinary singer; it's just that Piotr's voice is more appropriate for the role - and he really shines here. At the time of this recording, Piotr was a bit younger (this is from 2006). He is even a more secure tenor now since he seems to be a singer in constant evolution (he is a perfectionist and really cares for his art), but he was already phenomenal in 2006.

I'm not that fond of Elena Mosuc as Gilda. She sings without passion, and is not a very convincing actress. Her coloratura for the most part sounds good and in some scenes she brings down the house, but she pauses too often to breath, making for a less than smooth rendition. In terms of comparing two recent blu-rays of this opera like I did when I compared JDF with Piotr, I much prefer Diana Damrau's Gilda; she is able to deliver a more youthful and enthusiastic performance, being, as she is, a much better actress.

Laszlo Polgar as Sparafucile is wonderful! The Maddalena however looks a lot better than she sings.

http://1112.opernhaus.ch/pict/db/bios/Peetzneu.jpg

Katharina Peetz is a very beautiful and sexy woman, but here her poorly projected mezzo instrument is outmatched in the vocal department in the famous quartet with three powerful singers such as Leo Nucci, Piotr Beczala, and Elena Mosuc - we can barely hear her. Anyway, she is great eye candy!

Piotr is particularly good in the quartet, one of the best I've ever seen.

Comprimario roles are generally very good as well, with Rolf Haunstein impressive as Il Conte di Monterone, a good Kismara Pessatti as Giovanna, an attractive Angela Kerrison as La Contessa. We get the feeling of a well oiled ensemble, given that Opernhaus Zürich does maintain a full supplement of house singers.

The Chorus of the Zurich Opera House is simply extraordinary. People usually pay little attention to the chorus. Well, here, it does count as one of the best parts of this blu-ray.

Another advantage of this recording is the old Maestro, who has absolute command of this score which he knows by heart. Nello Santi is spectacular here, and so is the Orchestra of the Zurich Opera House.

Staging (by Gilbert Deflo with sets by William Orlandi) is sort of all over the place. Very colorful in certain scenes, very minimalistic in others. Costumes mix up different eras - it starts with period clothing and then switches to updated attire - why??? The production is well-behaved at times, and daring at other times (it opens with some topless ladies). There is hardly any conceptual unity. But the staging doesn't really get in the way (this is a production that is heavy in musical values, rather than in theatrical values - which end up being rather discreet in spite of the above-mentioned attempts at some color and some naked breasts). Lighting by Jürgen Hoffmann is excellent, with very handsome night scenes with atmospheric blue lighting.

Technically this product couldn't be more perfect. Not all blu-ray discs have the extraordinarily crisp image that the format permits. This one does. The sound is a pleasure, with the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. I'm thrilled to have the 7.1 format, since my equipment does support it, and I can rarely put it to full use like with this product. Balance is perfect. This sound approaches the experience that one can get live at the opera house.

Region - worldwide. Sung in Italian, with optional subtitles in Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, and Korean. Running time 128 minutes for the opera, 130 for the bonus features. The sound also comes on PCM stereo. Image of course is 16:9, 1080i. There is not much of an insert: two pages with the briefest essay possible (English only), one paragraph of plot synopsis, and chapter list, nothing else. There is a catalog for ArtHaus products (the same ones highlighted in the bonus feature) - so, this is actually sort of an ad for ArtHaus, and this is why it costs only $12. But fine with me, I like the price!

Overall, I'd say highly recommended, because of the musical values - great conducting and orchestral playing, extraordinary chorus, a phenomenal veteran singer in the title role, and a fabulous young tenor as the Duca, all rendered in state-of-the-art format for image and sound, and all this for 12 bucks, what is not to like?

Available on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Rigoletto-Blu-ray-Verdi/dp/B008O2T3O0/ref=sr_1_3?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1350857703&sr=1-3&keywords=rigoletto

Schigolch
October 22nd, 2012, 10:22 AM
It can be watched complete in youtube:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBYRhWtF2Vw

Dark_Angel
October 25th, 2012, 01:43 PM
It can be watched complete in youtube:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBYRhWtF2Vw

My only real complaint was the long distance camera view during famous Gilda aria "caro nome" did not like this!

Begins at 46:46 and takes a painfully slow zoom in process to get to normal visual framing of Gilda at 49:20, of course by now song is half over.....does nothing to enhance scence only frustrate viewer, a production blunder IMO :sad1:

Dark_Angel
November 3rd, 2012, 01:49 AM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/518PjU--YcL._SL500_AA300_.jpg http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/611oKh5-A5L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Tutto Verdi series will cause huge damage to my opera budget, just purchased Nabucco......
After watching the sampler I have 8-10 fav performances picked out and will pass by the boxsets which seem to offer no savings


Complete youtube samples available, check the "salgo gia" aria of Abigaille (Theodossiou) at 9:45


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&list=PL86DC159116E A9A82&v=27Hln6Ui6Zg


The benchmark which all Abigaille performances must be measured....

http://eocm5.homestead.com/files/01___nabucco___abigaille___naples__49.jpg

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
November 3rd, 2012, 04:53 AM
I got the sampler as well, it's sitting on my UWP. I'm afraid of watching it. It's risky for my wallet.

HarpsichordConcerto
November 3rd, 2012, 08:21 AM
I got the sampler as well, it's sitting on my UWP. I'm afraid of watching it. It's risky for my wallet.

Just watch it! Don't think too much, and do let us know what you think to help the rest of us make up our minds on which one(s) to get. hehehe ... :)

Dark_Angel
November 3rd, 2012, 12:29 PM
Just watch it! Don't think too much, and do let us know what you think to help the rest of us make up our minds on which one(s) to get. hehehe ... :)

They will make us slowly die with anticipation since operas are being released in small batches over a 9 month period, can you tell from Nabucco above that stage is very small (Teatro Parma).....they did an amazing job in Aidia grand march of giving the illusion of large scale and granduer in a small space, I was also very impressed with Il Corsaro and Rigoletto (Nino Machaidzie) previews among others

Also had high hopes we would finally get good modern Vespri Siciliani (Daniella Dessi) but sample does not give me good feeling

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
November 3rd, 2012, 09:30 PM
Verdi - blu-ray containing highlights of the upcoming boxset Tutto Verdi

This review is for the blu-ray sampler Tutto Verdi, released by C Major / Unitel Classica as a teaser for the series of the Maestro’s (almost) complete works – like we’ve discussed in the bicentennial thread, there are a couple of remakes of his operas that are different enough to qualify as autonomous, that are not here, and a bit of his non-operatic music is absent while the Requiem is in. I mean this, considering the entire series. The sampler is even more restricted, containing only 20 fragments, and two brief documentaries as well as a trailer, for bonus features.

1249

Blu-ray 1080i, 16:9, PCM Stereo + DTS-HD MA 5.1, region code A-B-C, running time 98 minutes for the excerpts, and 20 minutes of bonus features. Optional subtitles only exist in Italian and English. The modest insert has a one-page essay in English, German, and Italian. A catalog for the Unitel Classica DVDs is included, also featuring a blurb on each of the Tutti Verdi products.

Oberto – just the overture, conducted (well) by Antonello Allemandi – Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Parma. We get to see for a fraction of a second the stage when the curtains open, and it looks good. But there isn’t enough to gauge whether or not this production is worth a purchase.

Un Giorno di Regno, we hear for six minutes the fabulous Anna Caterina Antonacci who dazzles in “Ah, non m’hanno ingannata!,” then “Grave a core inamorato.” She is spectacular, as usual. The second aria is especially beautiful. Tasteful staging by the always competent Pier Luigi Pizzi. Then we’re treated to the partial strip tease scene that is famous on YouTube – I do have the same artist a few years younger doing the same scene with the same staging on a video file, and she naturally looks even better when younger, but definitely Ms. Antonacci is still a gorgeous-looking lady. Donato Renzetti holds the baton. Obligatory buy, especially considering that this is the first commercial version of this opera on video media (DVD and blu-ray).

Next we have Nabucco and the “Va, pensiero, sull’ali dorate” chorus, conducted by Michele Mariotti (way too slowly) and staged by Daniele Abbado. Dark lighting, singers on contemporary clothing. It’s all uninspired, and overall one of the least impressive renditions of this masterpiece. The dark lighting preempts any possible attempts by the singers to act with their facial expressions, as we can see in other much better versions. Not a winner.

Track number four is I Lombardi Alla Prima Crociata, with Daniela Pini singing Sofia, and Francesco Meli singing Oronte, in “Oh! Ma pensa… Come poteva un angelo.” Francisco Meli is impressive as a good Verdi tenor. She is less accomplished, but good enough. Costumes are beautiful, and the orchestra plays well under Daniele Callegari; staging is by Lamberto Puggelli. This may be a good buy, especially because the competition on video is not that good.

Ernani brings us Carlo Guelfi as Don Carlo (unimpressive), Susan Neves as Elvira (same), and Marco Berti in the title role (nothing special either). Settings are not good-looking. Staging by Pier’Alli, and Antonello Allemandi conducting seems heavy-handed. Not essential.

For I Due Foscari, we get for 4:28 the pleasure of listening to Leo Nucci as Il Doge Francisco Foscari, singing “Eccomi solo alfine… O vecchio cor, che batti.” Great costumes, beautiful minimalistic staging by Joseph Franconi Lee. Donato Renzetti conducts. The veteran singer whom I’ve come to appreciate more and more lately, does exceedingly well. This looks like a good one.

Svetla Vassileva is in the title role of Giovanna d’Arco, and here she sings for us “O fatidica foresta.” Bruno Bartoletti conducts, in a staging by Gabriele Lavia. I’ve seen this on video file already. The scenery is beautiful. The singer is attractive. If only she could sing! Fortunately we’re only tortured for 2:44. Not recommended.

Next we get from Attila the chorus “Urli, rapine… Eroi, levitate” in a very beautiful staging by Perfrancesco Maestrini, great costumes and make-up, and the orchestra under Andrea Battistoni is very resonant. Giovanni Battista Parodi in the title role is adequate. This one definitely seems worth its price.

The excellent Leo Nucci again does his job competently in the title role of Macbeth, with a much less pleasant Sylvie Valayre as his lady. The staging seems interesting, and is by Liliana Cavani. Conductor Bruno Bartoletti seems to hold down his forces a bit too much (sound balance privileges the singers a lot more than the muffled orchestra). This one looks like a mixed bag.

For Il Corsaro we get fairly attractive Silvia Dalla Benetta as Guinara, singing “Né sulla terra… Vola talor dal carcere.” Carlo Montanaro conducts and staging is by Lamberto Puggelli. The soprano does well. I like the staging too. There are some yummy supernumerary young ladies. This one makes the cut.

Luisa Miller brings us a tenor I’ve never liked, Marcelo Álvarez – the king of stock acting - singing Rodolfo. Vocally however he delivers the goods, I’m actually surprised. The conductor is Donato Renzetti and staging is by Denies Krief. The minimalistic staging looks good, and there is updated clothing. For those who can stand Álvarez’s acting, it might be a good buy. I won’t be getting it, though.

Wow, the Rigoletto seems excellent, with young and good-looking artists who can sing and act, in the roles of the Duca (Francesco Demuro – with a beautiful timbre but he does make a mistake or two), Gilda (beautiful Nino Machaidze) and no less attractive Stefanie Irány (Maddalena). Again the formidable Leo Nucci is a great Rigoletto. Orchestral tempo under Massimo Zanetti is slow by the sound is of good intensity, and staging by Stefano Vizioli is nice enough. A winner. We listen to a very well performed quartet “Un dì, se ben rammentomi… Bella figlia dell’amore.”

Very strikingly beautiful staging by Lorenzo Mariani surrounds an excellent Teresa Romano as Leonora in Il Trovatore, who unfortunately is singing (“L’onda de’suoni mistici”) alongside Marcelo Álvarez who yells too loudly and unartistically “Di quella pira” – over a lively orchestra conducted by Yuri Temirkanov. I’ll definitely not be getting this one due to the dreadful Álvarez, in spite of the interesting Romano.

Tacky and ugly staging by Karl-Ernst Herrmann and Ursel Herrmann is a turn-off in this scene that features mediocre Vladimir Stoyanov as Giorgio Germont in La Traviata, singing “Di Provenza il mar, il suol.” The orchestra doesn’t seem right either, even though it’s the same Yuri Temirkanov I had just liked in the previous track. I’ll pass.

For I Vespri Siciliani, this sampler includes Daniella Dessì as La Duchessa Elena, singing “Mercé, dilette amiche.” One doesn’t need to say that the staging is fine, since it is by the infallible Pier Luigi Pizzi. Ms. Dessì sings this scene very well. Massimo Zanetti conducts (he’s OK). This looks good.

Simon Boccanegra gets again the ubiquitous Leo Nucci in the title role, and we hear “Plebe! Patrizi! Popol dalla feroce storia!” Costumes are fine. Staging by Giorgio Gallione is very intriguing. At the end of the scene the other singers jump in for the ensemble, and they seem fine as well (Tamar Iveri is Amelia, Paolo Pecchioli is Pietro, Simone Piazzola is Paola, Francesco Meli is Gabriele, and Roberto Scandiuzzi is Fiesco). Daniele Callegari conducts with good balance. A promising buy! However this opera is well represented in video with a couple of strong performances by Domingo, so, it's optional.

Francesco Meli is a very good Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera, singing a moving “Forse la soglia attinse… Ma se m’è forza perderti.” Sets in trompe-l’oeil are not bad in this staging by Massimo Gasparon. Gianluigi Gelmetti is unremarkable as conductor. This one has potential.

Regarding La Forza del Destino, we get the very, very excellent Dimitra Theodossiou singing Leonora (“Pace, pace, mio Dio”) over the visually curious settings of this Stefano Poda staging. Conductor Gianluigi Gelmetti again fails to impress. However, this one seems to be a good buy thanks to the great soprano, and we fortunately get 6 minutes of her on this sampler.

Aïda is represented by its Marcia Trionfale “Gloria all’Egitto, ad Iside” and the staging is simply stunning, by Joseph Franconi Lee, who found genial solutions in order to make of the very small Parma theater a space that seems large enough for the processional. The costumes are incredibly elaborate. The orchestra and chorus under Antonino Fogliani are able to deliver good music. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this scene staged this well. What a fabulous visual spectacle! It looks like this one is an obligatory buy.

Finally, the Falstaff seems like fun with creative staging by Stephen Medcalf. The large ensemble “Facciamo il parentado… Totto nel mondo è burla” is very decently performed by a rather homogeneous cast, with the great Ambrogio Maestri in the title role. Andrea Battistoni directs well the orchestra.

The TV Trailer for the Unitel Classica catalog (not just the Verdis) is very beautiful, and features glimpses of my Anna! This is really a great trailer, not to be missed!

To get us a taste of what the Tutto Verdi products will include in the matter of introduction to the operas, we get two of these 10-minute documentaries; one on Un Giorno di Regno, and the other one on Nabucco. These films are indeed nice and informative. The one about Un Giorno di Regno contains footage that increases our appetite for this blu-ray since it seems like other singers who perform with Ms. Antonacci are worthy supplements to her artistry.

Another interesting aspect of the documentaries is that at the end they tell us the position a given opera occupies in the list of the most performed Verdi operas, and also all operas considered.

In summary, based on this sample of 20 products (out of a project that includes 27 with some that are not represented here – one wonders why on Earth the makers didn’t include them all!!!) I feel motivated to buy the following:

Definitely buying: Un Giorno di Regno, I Due Foscari, Attila, Rigoletto, Aïda, Il Corsaro.

Will likey buy, budget permitting: I Lombardi, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Forza del Destino, I Vespri Siciliani, Falstaff, Simon Boccanegra.

Uncertain: Oberto, Macbeth, Luisa Miller, and the other Tutto Verdi products not included in the sampler.

Will definitely not buy: Nabucco, Ernani, Giovanna d’Arco, Il Trovatore, La Traviata.

Dark_Angel
November 3rd, 2012, 10:13 PM
Verdi - blu-ray containing highlights of the upcoming boxset Tutto Verdi

This review is for the blu-ray sampler Tutto Verdi, released by C Major / Unitel Classica as a teaser for the series of the Maestro’s (almost) complete works – like we’ve discussed in the bicentennial thread, there are a couple of remakes of his operas that are different enough to qualify as autonomous, that are not here, and a bit of his non-operatic music is absent while the Requiem is in. I mean this, considering the entire series. The sampler is even more restricted, containing only 20 fragments, and two brief documentaries as well as a trailer, for bonus features.

1249

Blu-ray 1080i, 16:9, PCM Stereo + DTS-HD MA 5.1, region code A-B-C, running time 98 minutes for the excerpts, and 20 minutes of bonus features. Optional subtitles only exist in Italian and English. The modest insert has a one-page essay in English, German, and Italian. A catalog for the Unitel Classica DVDs is included, also featuring a blurb on each of the Tutti Verdi products.

For some reason this is not a "complete" sampling of all operas in the series, only 19 operas sampled plus 1 overture. There is plenty of room on blu ray disc for all operas to be sampled, perhaps some were not fully ready at the time this sampler was produced......

Alma and I both excited about Aida, Rigoletto and Corsaro, forget to mention that La Forza Del Destino has very dramatic staging with huge angled cross as center focus stage prop.....will have to see more

The staging for Ernani was really cool with huge framed paintings and coiled columns like alice in wonderland theme, but the rotund trio of singers did not excite me

We seem to part ways on Nabucco (already purchased) and Vespri Siciliani, Dessi seems a bit old to be Elena and that "merce dilette amiche" ehhhhhh. The fact that Pizzi did production is big plus, very spartan white room staging for that aria so hard to get a feel for entire opera

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
November 3rd, 2012, 11:52 PM
For some reason this is not a "complete" sampling of all operas in the series, only 19 operas sampled plus 1 overture. There is plenty of room on blu ray disc for all operas to be sampled, perhaps some were not fully ready at the time this sampler was produced......

Alma and I both excited about Aida, Rigoletto and Corsaro, forget to mention that La Forza Del Destino has very dramatic staging with huge angled cross as center focus stage prop.....will have to see more

The staging for Ernani was really cool with huge framed paintings and coiled columns like alice in wonderland theme, but the rotund trio of singers did not excite me

We seem to part ways on Nabucco (already purchased) and Vespri Siciliani, Dessi seems a bit old to be Elena and that "merce dilette amiche" ehhhhhh. The fact that Pizzi did production is big plus, very spartan white room staging for that aria so hard to get a feel for entire opera

Rethinking this after reading your opinion, I continued to not like the Ernani visuals, but it's a matter of taste, I can see that they are interesting. On the other hand we both agree that the singers are no good, so it's a moot point - not recommended. However I'll edit my post to upgrade Il Corsaro to "definitely buying" instead of "likely" - it does indeed look good. Hm... that Nabucco... if the main point of the opera, the Va Pensiero, is no good, why bother? But tell me what you think after you watch it whole. You may be right about the Vespri being doubtful, after all. To contain costs since I'm upgrading Il Corsaro, I'll bring down the Vespri.

But you don't want the Giorno? See, it's the only commercial version on video, and it has Antonacci! Attila also looks fabulous, and the competition with that stiff staging in Verona is horrible, so, I think it's a must buy.

I'm sure sospiro will want it and it does look good, but I may pass on Simon Boccanegra as well just because I do have a very good version of it; I don't really experience the need to get another one.

Dark_Angel
November 4th, 2012, 01:21 AM
But you don't want the Giorno? See, it's the only commercial version on video, and it has Antonacci! Attila also looks fabulous, and the competition with that stiff staging in Verona is horrible, so, I think it's a must buy.

I already purchased Giorno di Regno even before Tutto Verdi sampler arrived because of AC Antonacci:curtain_call:

HarpsichordConcerto
November 4th, 2012, 01:21 AM
Verdi - blu-ray containing highlights of the upcoming boxset Tutto Verdi

In summary, based on this sample of 20 products (out of a project that includes 27 with some that are not represented here – one wonders why on Earth the makers didn’t include them all!!!) I feel motivated to buy the following:

Definitely buying: Un Giorno di Regno, I Due Foscari, Attila, Rigoletto, Aïda, Il Corsaro.

Will likey buy, budget permitting: I Lombardi, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Forza del Destino, I Vespri Siciliani, Falstaff, Simon Boccanegra.

Uncertain: Oberto, Macbeth, Luisa Miller, and the other Tutto Verdi products not included in the sampler.

Will definitely not buy: Nabucco, Ernani, Giovanna d’Arco, Il Trovatore, La Traviata.

Thank you for the excellent summary of your thoughts. As we thought, most likely a mixed bag of productions. But to be fair, this is not that bad a result given the majority of Verdi operas have tough competition that stand well to any new productions. I am not buying the highlights nor any individual productions at this stage. It's going to be all or nothing for me.

Dark_Angel
November 4th, 2012, 01:40 AM
Thank you for the excellent summary of your thoughts. As we thought, most likely a mixed bag of productions. But to be fair, this is not that bad a result given the majority of Verdi operas have tough competition that stand well to any new productions. I am not buying the highlights nor any individual productions at this stage. It's going to be all or nothing for me.

The blu ray deluxe book format complete set is coming soon......12/15/2012 at JPC

http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Giuseppe-Verdi-1813-1901-Tutto-Verdi-Premium-Box-Blu-ray/hnum/2960495

HarpsichordConcerto
November 4th, 2012, 03:51 AM
The blu ray deluxe book format complete set is coming soon......12/15/2012 at JPC

http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Giuseppe-Verdi-1813-1901-Tutto-Verdi-Premium-Box-Blu-ray/hnum/2960495

Yep. Looks well presented but not at that price. In reality, I think most shops online will not be selling at the RRP of €599, at least not in the short term. I am not desperate enough to want it this year.

sospiro
November 4th, 2012, 06:39 AM
Thanks to all for your reviews/thoughts on the highlights and the Box Set. Being such a Verdi fan, I was tempted to buy the whole set immediately but I think I'll get them individually. Un giorno di regno will be one of the first!

Dark_Angel
November 4th, 2012, 02:52 PM
For some reason this is not a "complete" sampling of all operas in the series, only 19 operas sampled plus 1 overture. There is plenty of room on blu ray disc for all operas to be sampled, perhaps some were not fully ready at the time this sampler was produced......

Alma and I both excited about Aida, Rigoletto and Corsaro, forget to mention that La Forza Del Destino has very dramatic staging with huge angled cross as center focus stage prop.....will have to see more

We did not get a sample of Don Carlo, normally the small Parma stage might be considered a liabilty for large scences like the auto dafe (heretic burnings), but the massive Aida march was so cleverly handled that I look forward to seeing it. Not sure of the cast but would love to see AC Antonacci as Princess Eboli.....I can just picture the firey "Don Fatale" aria scence

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
November 7th, 2012, 01:14 AM
Verdi: Jérusalem on DVD

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/510DPZFT15L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Jérusalem, Grand-Opéra in four acts, sung in French
Music by Giuseppe Verdi; libretto by Alphonse Royer and Gustave Vaéz,
based on the Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera for Verdi's earlier opera I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata
Premiered in Paris, France, at the Opéra Garnier, on 26 November 1847

Conductor - Michel Plasson - November 2000 (Live)
Orchestra - Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova
Chorus - Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova (chorus master Ciro Visco)
Corps de Ballet of the Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova

Stage Director - Piergiorgio Gay, applying concepts from his mentor, cineast Ermanno Olmi
Set and Costumes - Danilo Donati
Choreography - Mauro Bigonzetti
Video Director - Paola Longobardo

Cast:
Gaston, Vicomte de Béarn - Ivan Momirov
Le comte de Toulouse - Alain Fondary
Roger - Carlo Colombara
Ademar de Monteil - Carlo Di Cristoforo
Raymond - Giorgio Casciarri
Hélène - Verónica Villaroel
Isaure - Federica Bragaglia
Un soldat - Giancarlo Tosi
Un Héraut - Alessandro Patalini
L'Émir de Ramla - Reda Al (El) Wakeel (Wakil)
Un officier de l'Émir - Enrico Facini

------------------------------------------------------------------

DVD (Video) - TDK «Mediactive» DV-OPJER (2003)
Aspect ratio 4:3, NTSC all regions, 2 DVDs. Sound formats LPCM, AC3 Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Optional subtitles in English, French, Spanish, and Italian
Running time 166 minutes
The insert contains credits, chapter list with names of arias and characters, duration
There is a two-page essay in English only, talking about the opera for one page and a half, and about the production for half a page, followed by a two-page synopsis in English only

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Image quality - reasonable, but not great; dark and low in resolution
Sound quality - thin, and surround effect is primitive (about the same sound comes from the five speakers, not much better than a stereo track (this is valid for both the DD and the DTS tracks; the latter is a bit better). Balance between singers and orchestra clearly favor the latter; while the recording of the sounds coming from the orchestra is full and resonant, the sounds coming from the stage seem muffled and distance.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Orchestra and conductor - Impeccable, exhilarating, great sonority and energy, beautiful transitions, nice French reading of the score; they have a great start with the beautiful overture, and continue to perform well throughout the opera. The chorus does a good job too, which is very important for this chorus-heavy opera.

Staging - static in blocking; acting is in general sub-par with lots of park-and-bark. Scenery (traditionalist, set to the libretto's timeline) is grand in dimensions (depth/height), but I'm less impressed than the commentator in the insert, and don't find it that extraordinary. But it doesn't get in the way - and it does have its strong points, although there are ups and downs. The first scene, for example, has beautiful background with the Church windows, but the left and right of the stage have rather tacky, heavy altars. The second scene has cardboard rocks that also look fake. However the mouth of a cave in the background looks impressive. The harem and the Jerusalem scene look appropriately visually rich, but again, maybe some restraint would have been better. Costumes are rather unappealing in my opinion, with bright colors and big crests with fake precious stones on people's chests that look rather over-the-top. I believe there is an excess of color throughout the staging, and its overuse actually impacts on the credibility of the sets. The ballet scene, however, is beautiful, and the costumes there are not bad. Hm... I do like the Jerusalem scene. Overall, the staging is better in the later scenes as compared to the opening ones.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Singing - I'm not a fan of Veronica Villarroel. She is not charismatic on stage, her looks are average, and her singing, while it can be beautiful in her mid-range, suffers at the top: her passagio to the top is unstable and allows for some undesirable pitch variation. Ivan Morimov as Gaston has beautiful timbre but his voice seems small (although it's hard to say from a rather unbalanced sound track) and his French articulation is defective, sounding like he's singing with an egg in his mouth. On the other hand, Carlo Colombara as Roger is significantly better than the other two main characters (or anybody else in this production, for that matter), and delivers excellent bass singing. Comprimario roles as usual in a good Italian regional opera house are solid - for example, Giorgio Casciarri and Federica Bagaglia who both do well, although the former's French has rather terrible diction. Alain Fondary has a somewhat aging large vibratto but still performs well, given that the Count is a role for an older man anyway so his voice matches the character.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

I Lombardi is one of my least favorite Verdi operas, and its French remake does appear to me to be more appealing. First of all, its new and improved overture is a real asset. I Lombardi's strength is in its choruses, and Verdi beefed them up even more for the French version. There is an additional dramatic court scene in the third act. There's a new funeral march, and an entirely new ballet, as required by the French Grand-Opéra tradition. According to the Maestro himself, his numerous other tweakings to the score make of this a truly new opera, or at least, a remake that is different enough to stand on its own.

This product has no competition on DVD. There are three old versions on VHS by bootleg makers, and the new Tutti Verdi boxset doesn't include Jérusalem. Therefore, one can't look the horse in the mouth, and I'm grateful for this DVD even though it has many shortcomings. Besides, it isn't horrible by any means, and strengths also exist, the most notable ones being the formidable performance from the pit, and the beautiful and well executed chorus numbers. And we get a good bass.

B+, recommended to Verdi lovers, and to lovers of a chorus feast.

HarpsichordConcerto
November 7th, 2012, 09:13 AM
I have that and I think I wrote a brief summary of what I thought. I agree with your observations. A decent one (and I think it is the only one available exlcluding the new Tutto Verdi series).

Dark_Angel
November 24th, 2012, 11:26 PM
Yep. Looks well presented but not at that price. In reality, I think most shops online will not be selling at the RRP of €599, at least not in the short term. I am not desperate enough to want it this year.

Looks like all vendors selling for near full price.....
Presto UK now has complete 26 opera + Requiem blu ray Tutto Verdi set for $786 about $29 per work, individual blu ray operas go for $41 (insanely expensive) so you do save some by going all the way to complete set, Jan 2013 release date

For the sane ones still left among us best to wait till next year this time when I suspect price will be more like $500, start saving your pennies now

http://i.prs.to/t_200/cmajor721904.jpg

Aramis
November 24th, 2012, 11:33 PM
For the sane ones still left among us best to wait till next year this time when I suspect price will be more like $500

Sane geezer reporting, I'm not buying this thing at all.

Dark_Angel
November 24th, 2012, 11:43 PM
Sane geezer reporting, I'm not buying this thing at all.

HC can swing it, just cut back a bit on the Earl Grey and scones.......:angel:

Alma can also use a fraction of his vast financial fortune made from this forum, he he

HarpsichordConcerto
November 25th, 2012, 04:29 AM
Nicely presented "book". Yes, you are right about the price. On current exchange rates, Presto's price is about €599 for the DVD or Blu-ray. But I seldom pay full price because all shops routinely go on sale on all the major labels. I am 100% confident a sale price will take at about 15% to 25% off that price during the course of 2013. It is certainly a nice to have item but I ain't desperate for it. (If it was a "Tutto Handel", then that might be a different matter ... hehehe)

sospiro
November 25th, 2012, 07:24 AM
Looks like all vendors selling for near full price.....
Presto UK now has complete 26 opera + Requiem blu ray Tutto Verdi set for $786 about $29 per work, individual blu ray operas go for $41 (insanely expensive) so you do save some by going all the way to complete set, Jan 2013 release date

For the sane ones still left among us best to wait till next year this time when I suspect price will be more like $500, start saving your pennies now

http://i.prs.to/t_200/cmajor721904.jpg

That is so beautiful & so tempting but I'm going to try & be sensible for a change & resist, for a while anyway. Trouble is I'm worried that a discount version might not have all the bells & whistles .........

Soave_Fanciulla
November 25th, 2012, 09:10 AM
(If it was a "Tutto Handel", then that might be a different matter ... hehehe)

OMG don't give them ideas or I will go definitively broke.

Dark_Angel
December 2nd, 2012, 11:13 PM
For the sane ones still left among us best to wait till next year this time when I suspect price will be more like $500, start saving your pennies now

http://i.prs.to/t_200/cmajor721904.jpg

Amazon USA to the rescue, just listed complete blu ray Tutto Verdi set for $599 a 30% discount from retail, release date 12/18/2012. Interesting that blu ray is much cheaper than DVD set (599 vs 715) so no brainer to go blu ray.....Presto UK still selling for $789

HC time to push the buy button brother......



http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51OATNZK7QL._AA300_.jpg http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51zC2HJED3L._AA300_.jpg

HarpsichordConcerto
December 3rd, 2012, 08:25 AM
Amazon USA to the rescue, just listed complete blu ray Tutto Verdi set for $599 a 30% discount from retail, release date 12/18/2012. Interesting that blu ray is much cheaper than DVD set (599 vs 715) so no brainer to go blu ray.....Presto UK still selling for $789

HC time to push the buy button brother......


Knowing Presto (in that I have bought tonnes of stuff from them), I am expecting the Tutto Verdi series (Blu-ray for moi) to go on discount sometime during the course of 2013. That's when I might strike the buy button. I like buying things on sale - it gives me an extra buzz factor. That's just me. :biggrin: But that booklet thing is sure beautifully presented. If anything, they have sure worked out a nice package for it.

Let's see who is the first to buy it. It would be funny if the best opera forum on the planet that is OperaLively has no members owning it. :biggrin:

Herkku
December 3rd, 2012, 11:32 AM
Let's see who is the first to buy it. It would be funny if the best opera forum on the planet that is OperaLively has no members owning it. :biggrin:

Don't try to tempt me! I'm in no hurry to get this one. More likely I'll follow HC and wait for the sale.

Soave_Fanciulla
December 3rd, 2012, 05:40 PM
I'm not getting it. I've got most of the operas in other productions on DVD already, and the productions/casts are not enough to tempt me.

Dark_Angel
December 3rd, 2012, 06:37 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51JRz0NeQ9L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

From the Tutto Verdi series Verdi's 2nd opera "king for a day" is a light comedy similar in style to Rossini's work.

A major failure upon public debut, made Verdi question whether he should even continue on as an opera composer (fortunately he did not give up easily), he never again composed a comedic opera until his final work of Falstaff. Nice simple visually effective production by PL Pizzi that allows singers to take center stage......especially our diva fav AC Antonacci

Right away I am impressed that an elegant dance number took place during overture instead of audience staring at blank stage curtain. A romantic romp with assumed identities, lovers plotting and scheming ruses to gain advantage in the end all is forgiven and we have two marriages to celebrate......as in Rossini the women's sly cunning rules the day to win over the stubborn male psyche.

AC Antonacci is brilliant both vocally and visually as the scheming mastermind Marchesa and among the remaining cast the two young lovers Giulietta and Edoardo were very emotionally devoted and sang quite nicely.....remaining cast were unkown to me but did a good job, plenty of fun and light hearted action always taking place. Again this is not typical Verdi style opera and if you saw this unknown you would guess it to be an obscure Rossini light comedic work

Because this opera is rarely performed this well done performance is really a must buy for any Verdi fan, I gladly add it to my collection.

Aramis
December 8th, 2012, 08:25 PM
http://i.ndcd.net/2/Item/500/148221.jpg

Is it famous Rigoletto recording that I somehow overlooked so far or a hidden gem? Because it must be one of the two. The orchestral performance is far from perfect, but the singers are wonderful. I can hardly find anything about tenor Yordi Ramiro or Alida Ferrarini, soprano that made impression on me as if somebody would mix voices of Edita Gruberova and Frederica von Stade. IT'S JUST DUMB IMPRESSION, FORGIVE ME. Anyway, the booklet says she's one of top coloratura sopranos of that time. She sang with Alfredo Kraus (another Rigoletto) and Francisco Araiza (L'Elisir d'Amore) but apparently very few performances with her were recorded and released and her fame faded. I don't recall seeing her name anywhere. The bartione, Tumagian is his name, is not underneath in any way, great singing and fine creation of the role. Again, the only thing to really complain is orchestra, at times sounding like cement frump. If you know... what I... mean...................

Herkku
December 25th, 2012, 04:42 AM
1417

Tutto Verdi: Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio

OK, Santa Claus brought the whole package. So, I feel compelled to write something about it. Some of the operas have already been released individually, but the performances are all new to me. In a project of this magnitude it would be foolish to expect every performance to be great (I have read quite unflattering reviews of Ernani, for example), but we will see in due course how they work for me.

Let’s begin with Oberto. I watched this alongside with an older performance on DVD from Bilbao and the studio CD-recording conducted by Gardelli. Alas, I don’t have the CD version with Marriner. Not yet. None of the three versions at hand is perfect. The newcomer is filmed in the minuscule Teatro Verdi di Bussetto, but the small stage has been used very effectively and the camerawork leaves you mostly unaware of the confined space. The picture quality of the Blu-ray is good and next to it the Bilbao DVD is grainy at times, although not impossibly so. The sound is good on both media.

I remembered having written a review of the Bilbao performance in another operatic forum and I think that I can paste it here:

Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio, Verdi's first opera, already shows his melodic gifts, and if there is an occasional nod toward Donizetti, the whole is unmistakably Verdi. The music is definitely worth hearing. The opera had it's premiere at La Scala, no less. Quite an achievement for a beginning opera composer!

The plot: Oberto’s (Ildar Abdrazakov) daughter, Leonora (Evelyn Herlitzius) has been seduced by Riccardo (Carlo Ventre), who is about to marry Cuniza (Marianne Cornetti). Riccardo and Cuniza are kind of on the enemy side for Oberto, after a lost battle [over what?]. Leonora, in her despair, turns directly to Cuniza to get Riccardo back. Cuniza agrees [to join forces with Leonora and apprehend the unfaithful Riccardo]. Meanwhile, Oberto is not yet satisfied, but is killed in a duel with Riccardo, who flees, leaving Leonora with the ultimate solution (in this production) of stabbing herself to death. [An opera plot to be mistaken with hundreds of others. Many years for Arrigo Boïto – that Italian Hofmannstahl – to appear and put things straight!]

My reference here is the audio recording conducted by Lamberto Gardelli (1989) with Carlo Bergonzi (what a Verdi tenor with finesse!), Ghena Dimitrova (a vocal cannon, but capable of softer singing, too), Ruza Baldani (of whom I haven't heard anything since) [have you?] and Rolando Panerai. There is a newer version also on CD, conducted by Marriner (with Guleghina, Urmana, Ramey) but I haven't heard it. Ildar Abdrazakov, as Oberto, is by far the best singer here [in the Bilbao DVD!]. Herlitzius has a very intrusive vibrato [without which she seems unable to sing a single note…] for a youngish [well, that would be compared to Cornetti] singer. Cornetti is more than a little matronly [old enough to be Riccardo’s mother, but not hopeless vocally, a few high notes excepted] to be anyone's bride. Ventre is a tenor [when did I get to be so mean?], but he makes me achingly aware of Bergonzi's performance.

The question remains: is there any added value in seeing this opera vs. just listening to it? [pretty strong text but not completely futile!] At least the production is completely traditional, devoid of any modern gimmicks. Still, my general answer would be no [NO!]If you are a fanatic collector (like I am), there aren't any alternatives on DVD, yet. [Well, Tutto Verdi changes all that!]

Oddly enough, the text above was written on 23.12.2010, or 12.23.2010. Almost Christmas then also. The reference CD is still a strong contender with Bergonzi. I’m not so sure of Dimitrova as Leonora any more, her larger-than-life voice perhaps more suitable to Turandot or Abigaille in the Arena di Verona.

That brings us back to the Tutto Verdi version. I had to start and restart watching it at least five times, because I couldn’t get past the fattest cheeks I have ever seen. Namely, those of the tenor, Fabio Santori. I feel bad commenting someone’s looks like this [not being an Adonis myself), but I just couldn’t concentrate on the music looking at him. That being said, he beats his Bilbao counterpart vocally. Francesca Sassu as Leonora is also better than Herlitzius, although not especially interesting. I like her hairdo, though, which reminds me of the pictures of the early 19th century singers. Oberto, Giovanni Battista Parodi, is a reliable enough singer as the lower male voices go, but Ildar Abdrazakov is more handsome. Mariana Pentcheva as Cuniza does certainly look younger than Cornetti, but that’s about it. Hers isn’t a voice to write home about, either, although there isn’t any special faults in it. No stellar cast here, then, and a tenor with some cheeks. Still, I prefer them compared to Bilbao. Both performances are rather static, standing (or kneeling) and singing, but not moving from one place to another. A lot of statuesque poses that are not so bad. The plot doesn’t exactly help. I suppose things would have been very much like this at the time. All the four protagonists presented with a scene of their own, one after another, give a take a chorus or a duet, doesn’t make a dramatically good start, and after these we have seen half of the opera. Or maybe a third of it.

Any musical highlights? For the first time I noticed that Verdi has Leonora picking up the melody from her first appearance to the duet with her father – to a great effect. The terzetto with Leonora, Cuniza and Oberto, and maybe even the quartetto, Riccardo added, could present an early promise of things to come. I would sometimes prefer brisker tempi in the solo numbers from the conductor, Antonello Allemandi, whom I haven’t even introduced yet. The same goes for Maestro Gardelli as well. The orchestra – or the players that could fit into the small pit – is from Parma. They play very nicely and are nicely recorded, too. You wouldn’t believe that there is only one double bass, if I see correctly. The last minutes of the finale of the first act are pretty catchy and they are brisk enough! Riccardo’s Romanza should have been a show-stopper, but it isn’t. Even Bergonzi can’t make it much better. Verdi’s great arias did come a little later. Oberto’s “Ma tu, superbo giovane” is the most tuneful one here.

The sets are very simple or minimal but I like them like that. They are enough to evoke some indefinite past. I put it like this because the costumes don’t exactly belong to the 13th century, that being the time everything is supposed to take place.

That should cover it. Not a complete success, but the best there is. If you can stand the cheeks of the tenor. Now that I have got myself going, I will try to keep you posted! Un giorno di regno is waiting!

I might add that the Bilbao version has been given five stars in the amazon.co.uk customer ranking and the Bussetto four and a half. They do not deserve so many and we will be out of stars if something worthy pops up!

sospiro
December 25th, 2012, 12:57 PM
Actually that Tutto Verdi is mine, Santa's SatNav must have been faulty.

Seriously, thank you Herkku. Your reviews are always worth reading & this one has had me chuckling! I'll get my own copy eventually & I can't wait to see this tenor. :D

Dark_Angel
December 25th, 2012, 01:47 PM
1417

Tutto Verdi: Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio

OK, Santa Claus brought the whole package. So, I feel compelled to write something about it. Some of the operas have already been released individually, but the performances are all new to me. In a project of this magnitude it would be foolish to expect every performance to be great (I have read quite unflattering reviews of Ernani, for example), but we will see in due course how they work for me.

Wow what a nice "little package" to get from Santa, like Sospiro I think Santa got confused and by mistake dropped my gift off at your house :angel:

Herkku
December 25th, 2012, 03:28 PM
We have got so much snow this year that I would not be surprised if Santa's logistics had failed and he would have dumped all presents at the first opportunity, retired to his cave, given the reindeers the rest of the night off and enjoyed some mulled wine or egg-nog with the old lady.

Yashin
December 26th, 2012, 08:18 AM
Yordi Ramiro sings one of my favourite songs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1iaqoAbylU

Its just a pity some of those older Naxos opera recordings have quite a dry sound.

Dark_Angel
January 6th, 2013, 08:00 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51YJ552APZL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

This MacBeth was much better than I expected, although only recommended for collectors who have other traditional versions of this opera. A modern hybrid that has dramatic images and is thought provoking adding some mysterious cryptic elements that experienced MacBeth fans will appreciate.

Opening scence has pregnant woman alone in chair (we assume this is Banquo's wife whose family will produce 8 future kings of Scotland according to witches predictions) then we have traditional entry of witches...this is one example of some of the crytic scences mixed in with traditional storyline.

Thomas Hampson as you might expect has natural personality for the brooding tormented MacBeth and works very well, Lady MacBeth sung by Paoletta Marrocu is near perfect acting and visually capturing the dark side of this character (although vocally Callas and Verrett are not challenged) She is very sexy yet dark and supremely gothic enraptured in the evil impulses that drive her lust for power, she has many memorable scences that were visually very dramatic.

The production itself uses intelligent mixture of modern and classic elements to achieve visually dramatic results, there is a large rotating cube center stage with one side open that is always present, also clever use of mirrors inside cube during Lady M's sleep walk scence. Some strange mixtures of cultures/costumes as when King Duncan entourage appears instead of Scottish garb are dressed in a mysterious middle eastern attire complete with gold mask for king and flowing veils.....looks cool but I have not quite figured out the logic behind this?

Large hole in ceiling gets its use during final scence when super giant dagger point is thrust through to floor and young child (Banquo's future family) stands at it's base. Also after an amazing Lady M sleep walk scence featuring clever use of mirrored walls to create illusions inside the rotating center cube, her hand maiden kills her (by lethal injection) which is another new twist here.

So veteran MacBeth fans should buy this for sure, I watched it twice in a row and Miss Marrocu visually does a great job as Lady M


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=kDZBdDg8Nz8


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=EaSMzjLsdQ4

Nervous Gentleman
January 7th, 2013, 09:24 PM
1417

Tutto Verdi


It's interesting how C Major falsely claim that their "[I masnadieri] is a World première on DVD and Blu-ray."

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/w/76704

I've had this fine production from New Ornamenti for several years now:

1472

Soave_Fanciulla
January 7th, 2013, 09:45 PM
I've had this fine production from New Ornamenti for several years now:

1472

This looks to me like a grey zone "not quite official" DVD. I can't see a label - have I missed it? There is certainly no other Masnadieri DVD apart from the new one on sale through usual channels. Yours looks like it could be this production on YouTube:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxvFeL589GI

Nervous Gentleman
January 7th, 2013, 10:14 PM
This looks to me like a grey zone "not quite official" DVD. I can't see a label - have I missed it?

I should have included a link to the label.

http://www.newornamenti.com/eng/edvd.html

New Ornamenti (from Buenos Aires) is as "official" a label as any other. However, the performances on this label are certainly not of world-class calibre (though, still worthwhile) and those DVDs that I have from this company contain only hardcoded Spanish subs.

The YouTube clip is of an Italian production.

Soave_Fanciulla
January 7th, 2013, 10:18 PM
I should have included a link to the label.

http://www.newornamenti.com/eng/edvd.html

New Ornamenti (from Buenos Aires) is as "official" a label as any other. However, the performances on this label are certainly not of world-class calibre (though, still worthwhile) and those DVDs that I have from this company contain only hardcoded Spanish subs.

The YouTube clip is of an Italian production.

Aah, that would explain why they are pretty localised. I've never seen any of these on sale anywhere. Did you buy it direct?

Schigolch
January 7th, 2013, 10:22 PM
This label only offers, to the best of my knowledge, performances by Argentinian singer Adelaida Negri.

Nervous Gentleman
January 7th, 2013, 10:22 PM
Aah, that would explain why they are pretty localised. I've never seen any of these on sale anywhere. Did you buy it direct?

Yeah, I'm glad I have them, too; though they certainly have their deficiencies. Adelaida Negri, God bless her, is long past it, but her apparent obstinacy in continuing to showcase her waning talents certainly has its charm. More importantly, as the guiding force of her opera company and label she provides an outlet for young and provincial talent.

HarpsichordConcerto
January 8th, 2013, 09:10 AM
Is it that good? Tutto Verdi has it, to be released later this month in January.

Nervous Gentleman
January 13th, 2013, 10:25 PM
Further to the 1981 open-air Verona production of "Aida" (about which I wrote previously regarding the inadequate English subtitles), I wanted to comment on the performance of Fiorenza Cossotto as Amneris in the final act. In a single word: WOW! I have now seen half-a-dozen different productions on DVD, but her performance in the Judgement Scene is easily the most thrilling (expect maybe her performance in the 1966 version).


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flAX4YD5fP0

The rest of the production and the video is, in my opinion, not quite in the same league as some of the others (due, no doubt, to the difficulties of staging and filming in the Arena di Verona).

Then there is this production from 1985, not available on DVD (other than as a bootleg):

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0825597/


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHd0OBSF6Po

Fortunin
January 21st, 2013, 06:02 PM
I just bought the MET production of Mecbeth 2008, With Guleghina(lady) , Zelco Lucic (Macbeth) John Relyea (Banquo) under Levine, I think it is stupendous. I am not too wild about Guelghina's coloratura in Act I, the Banquo is great, and so is Macbeth.

sospiro
January 21st, 2013, 07:27 PM
I just bought the MET production of Mecbeth 2008, With Guleghina(lady) , Zelco Lucic (Macbeth) John Relyea (Banquo) under Levine, I think it is stupendous. I am not too wild about Guelghina's coloratura in Act I, the Banquo is great, and so is Macbeth.

That's a really great recording and despite not liking Macduff sitting on an armoured car & crying, it was my favourite until I saw this at ROH

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51GldfVQlUL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

& bored the pants off everyone with my Macbeth stories. But it is good. It's very very very good.

Aramis
January 21st, 2013, 07:31 PM
& bored the pants off everyone with my Macbeth stories. But it is good. It's very very very good.

I bet it's very good. I'd like to bore pants off people with stories too. Where do I even begin?

sospiro
January 21st, 2013, 07:34 PM
I bet it's very good. I'd like to bore pants off people with stories too. Where do I even begin?

You're entertaining and enlightening & don't bore people. You'd have to have a few brain cells removed to enable your stories to be boring.

Aramis
January 21st, 2013, 09:36 PM
You're entertaining and enlightening & don't bore people. You'd have to have a few brain cells removed to enable your stories to be boring.

http://img2.demotywatoryfb.pl/uploads/201301/1358276531_by_malwina2009_inner.gif

Aksel
January 21st, 2013, 10:10 PM
I just bought the MET production of Mecbeth 2008, With Guleghina(lady) , Zelco Lucic (Macbeth) John Relyea (Banquo) under Levine, I think it is stupendous. I am not too wild about Guelghina's coloratura in Act I, the Banquo is great, and so is Macbeth.

I quite agree. But after a few viewings, the FIERCENESS that is Maria Guleghina's Lady Mabeth. Her characterisation infinitely makes up for the lack of vocal finesse. The same goes for her Abigaille.

Yashin
January 22nd, 2013, 09:49 AM
Anyone seen the Macbeth DVD with Leo Nucci and Sylvie Valayre. Filmed in Parma. Not sure what to make of it.

I actually really like the DVD with Violeta Urmana and Dimitris Tiliakos. Tcherniakov is the director and it was filmed in Paris. Its really good (IMO).

Aksel
January 22nd, 2013, 02:48 PM
I actually really like the DVD with Violeta Urmana and Dimitris Tiliakos. Tcherniakov is the director and it was filmed in Paris. Its really good (IMO).

It's in my UWP. The concept does sound very intriguing.

Soave_Fanciulla
January 23rd, 2013, 09:06 AM
Anyone seen the Macbeth DVD with Leo Nucci and Sylvie Valayre. Filmed in Parma. Not sure what to make of it.

I actually really like the DVD with Violeta Urmana and Dimitris Tiliakos. Tcherniakov is the director and it was filmed in Paris. Its really good (IMO).

i agree. My favourite version too.

Itullian
February 8th, 2013, 06:49 PM
anyone seen this yet?

http://www.amazon.com/Verdi-Complete-Dame-Montserrat-Caballe/dp/B00AFOS8A0/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1360349015&sr=1-1&keywords=verdi+complete+works

sospiro
February 8th, 2013, 06:58 PM
anyone seen this yet?

http://www.amazon.com/Verdi-Complete-Dame-Montserrat-Caballe/dp/B00AFOS8A0/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1360349015&sr=1-1&keywords=verdi+complete+works

This looks gorgeous & it would be so nice to have all these in the one box but I'm pretty sure I have all these recordings anyway, except I only have the one version of La forza del destino.

I'm more interested in getting the DVDs. But not yet, my finances have taken a bit of a hit recently & I need to recover!

Jephtha
February 8th, 2013, 08:15 PM
anyone seen this yet?

http://www.amazon.com/Verdi-Complete-Dame-Montserrat-Caballe/dp/B00AFOS8A0/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1360349015&sr=1-1&keywords=verdi+complete+works

Yes, I saw it over at MDT. I will be purchasing it, although having recently acquired the EMI Verdi bicentennial box of Muti's Verdi recordings, there is a bit of overlap since the new Decca set includes the Muti Vespri. I will be interested though, to hear the Sutherland recording of Ernani, as well as the original St. Petersburg version of Forza, neither of which I have heard before.

Itullian
February 8th, 2013, 08:21 PM
this may sound weird, but i love Un Giorno de Regno.

sospiro
February 8th, 2013, 08:34 PM
this may sound weird, but i love Un Giorno de Regno.

I'm weird (http://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/316-Beyond-the-Standard-Repertoire-Un-giorno-di-regno?p=2939#post2939) :biggrin:

Since I wrote it, this DVD has been released.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512gpsLo9aL._AA160_.jpg

Itullian
February 8th, 2013, 09:10 PM
I'm weird (http://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/316-Beyond-the-Standard-Repertoire-Un-giorno-di-regno?p=2939#post2939) :biggrin:

Since I wrote it, this DVD has been released.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512gpsLo9aL._AA160_.jpg

the Gardelli is an excellent recording, although slightly cut. but Carreras and Norman are great in it.

Soave_Fanciulla
February 9th, 2013, 12:54 AM
I'm weird (http://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/316-Beyond-the-Standard-Repertoire-Un-giorno-di-regno?p=2939#post2939) :biggrin:

Since I wrote it, this DVD has been released.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512gpsLo9aL._AA160_.jpg

I enjoyed that DVD immensely, so I'll join the WGDRFC (Weird Giorno di Regno Fan Club).

sospiro
February 9th, 2013, 04:05 PM
I enjoyed that DVD immensely, so I'll join the WGDRFC (Weird Giorno di Regno Fan Club).

DVD gets the thumbs up from me as well.

Itullian
February 9th, 2013, 08:29 PM
for you Rigoletto fans. theres a real sleeper out there.
Molinari-Pradelli conducting the Rome Opera with Cornel McNeil as Rigoletto, Riri Grist as an excellent Gilda and Gedda as wonderful Duke. all in great stereo sound.
i think its on emi's classics for pleasure.
a great version.
although with the small stage cuts.

Schigolch
February 12th, 2013, 02:15 AM
I have watched this performance in video some years ago, too. It was nice, indeed, especially Bruscantini, but frankly I don't remember if it was subbed.

Nervous Gentleman
February 12th, 2013, 05:35 AM
I have watched this performance in video some years ago, too. It was nice, indeed, especially Bruscantini, but frankly I don't remember if it was subbed.

Yes, this performance is definitely a treasure. I think I read somewhere that this was the first time that the opera had ever been performed in Japan. I wrote to VAI to inquire if this DVD was ever released or not. We'll see what they say. Otherwise I may just have to buy the Japanese disc (not that I need subs for an opera so familiar, but it would still be nice to have).

EDIT: I just received this response from VAI:

"Paul,

Alas, it was never released, It was announced, but at the last minute
some stumbling blocks emerged and they were never overcome."



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bczFxxsGbTY

Jephtha
February 18th, 2013, 08:34 PM
1686





Classical restraint and intimacy are the hallmarks of this performance, led by Riccardo Muti. From the opening notes of the Prelude, it is clear that we are in a world where passions are not torn to tatters. The phrasing in the strings is cool and sober, a dry-eyed yet moving evocation of what is, after all, a domestic rather than an epic tragedy. This restraint colors the entire performance. The party music for Acts I and II is buoyant and graceful, yet far from dionysiac, and the chorus follows suit: these may be inhabitants of the demi-monde, but they are also dignified ladies and gentlemen who follow the code of behavior observed in polite society. Musically they are disciplined and rhythmic, if a trifle recessed sonically, particularly in Act I.

At the time of recording(the early 1980's), Renata Scotto had been perfecting her interpretation of Violetta for nigh on to thirty years, having first performed the role at the very start of her career in the early 1950's. This resulted in an attention to phrasing and detail that is welcome in this, the most three-dimensional and vividly human of Verdi's heroines. The public and private 'faces' of Violetta are strongly contrasted: serious and formal with her guests in Act I and at the interview with Germont, touchingly young and vulnerable with Alfredo, and introspective almost to a fault in her soliloquies. Muti has her phrasing across bar lines and through climaxes in an almost symphonic manner, so that the musical arch is always apparent. The great scena in Act I is a marvel of musico-dramatic artistry. The recitative shows, for the first time in this portrayal, a personal touch: the voice is lighter than previously and girlish, the manner wistful. 'Ah, fors e lui' shows the afore-mentioned long line, and the dynamic range, while clearly delineated and well-proportioned, is not exaggerated. The phrasing here is exquisite, and the cadenza is quiet and pensive. 'Sempre libera' is not a violent contrast, but is closer to the fore-going mood: while the passagework is well done, the brilliance is muted and the overall effect is almost thoughtful, as though Violetta were trying to convince herself of her own faith in a life of pleasure. The remainder of Scotto's performance is just as interesting and rewarding: formal yet touching and pathetic with Germont, sweet and loving in her gentle reproof after Alfredo's public humiliation of her, and quietly accepting of her fate in Act III. Even the reading of the letter, so often an occasion for melodramatic excess in lesser performances, is deliberately underplayed; the cry of 'E tardi!' amounts to a whispered afterthought. In sum, a Violetta of color and drama, of touching femininity and visceral passion, and all contained within boundaries of classical restraint.

The performances of the men are just as rewarding. Alfredo Kraus takes Germont fils' poetic nature as the keynote of his portrayal: 'Libiamo' is light and quasi-improvised in manner, while in 'Un di felice' the tenor is liquid and formal: 'Di quell amor' is almost shy, hesitant. Alfredo's humiliation of Violetta in Act II is patently the result of his boyish immaturity in this performance, boyish but not boorish, a quality of unthinkingness that can turn his rage to remorse instantly after his father's reprimand. Renato Bruson is perhaps too much of a contrast to Kraus; this fine singer(perhaps slightly intimidated by Muti)gives us a 'Di Provenza' that is musically impeccable but dramatically ill-at-ease, prosaic and monochromatic where ardency and paternal passion are called for. However, when the performance is seen as a whole, this makes sense, Alfredo's rhapsodic nature being a violent reaction against the conventional life represented by his father.

The smaller roles are all well taken, with the great English mezzo Sarah Walker as a Flora with just enough 'face' to provide a charming and flirtatious foil to Violetta without unduly disturbing the dramatic balance. Muti's come scritto policy means that, on the one hand, we are deprived of unwritten yet traditional high notes(no E flat at the end of Act I), but also that we get the score absolutely uncut. Thus, we are allowed to hear the second verses to 'Ah, fors e lui' and 'Addio del passato', the reprises of 'Parigi o cara' and 'Gran Dio! morir si giovine', and the cabalettas to the men's arias in Act II. All in all, a rewarding performance by great artists that will surely repay repeated listenings.

Schigolch
February 18th, 2013, 09:54 PM
Perhaps both Kraus and Scotto sound at times a little bit too mature in that recording, with Kraus being by almost ten years the senior Germont here. :)

But a great performance, nonetheless.

Jephtha
February 18th, 2013, 10:09 PM
Perhaps both Kraus and Scotto sound at times a little bit too mature in that recording, with Kraus being by almost ten years the senior Germont here. :)

But a great performance, nonetheless.

I did notice that maturity of tone quality, Schigolch. To my ear, it is especially apparent in the Act I party scene, where Scotto sounds like anything but a young woman(Alphonsine Duplessis died at the age of twenty-three). However, I thought the artistry of the three principals overcame any misgivings as to youthful vocal quality.

Schigolch
February 18th, 2013, 10:22 PM
It did, it did.

I've listened to Alfredo Kraus singing Alfredo Germont even later than that, and he was great always. But one can always prefer his Germont of the legendary Lisbon Traviata with Callas.

However, when singing Violetta (when singing *well* Violetta), we can always have the "veteran courtesan" approach, of a slightly mature lady that knows all is there to know about love, and men. And however, in spite of this, she is dragged by the youthful passion of Alfredo. A little bit like Greta Garbo in Camille. :)

I prefer the alternative view, of a very young girl, that simply is smitten by true love for the first time in her life. Not that Ms. Scotto were not able of vocally portraying this girl, just listen to her singing with Pavarotti in the 1960s, but her voice was not the same 15 years later, and she did the right thing for that time.

Jephtha
February 18th, 2013, 10:30 PM
It did, it did.

I've listened to Alfredo Kraus singing Alfredo Germont even later than that, and he was great always. But one can always prefer his Germont of the legendary Lisbon Traviata with Callas.

However, when singing Violetta (when singing *well* Violetta), we can always have the "veteran courtesan" approach, of a slightly mature lady that knows all is there to know about love, and men. And however, in spite of this, she is dragged by the youthful passion of Alfredo. A little bit like Greta Garbo in Camille. :)

I prefer the alternative view, of a very young girl, that simply is smitten by true love for the first time in her life. Not that Ms. Scotto were not able of vocally portraying this girl, just listen to her singing with Pavarotti in the 1960s, but her voice was not the same 15 years later, and she did the right thing for that time.

I agree. It can be rather gruesome when an artist of mature years attempts to portray someone young enough to be her own granddaughter, as Bette Davis' character tries to do in her attempted 'comeback' in the film-within-a film in The Star.

Itullian
February 19th, 2013, 06:27 PM
how about this bargain? :)

http://www.amazon.com/Verdi-Opern-Operas-Gesamt-complete/dp/B009YNM19C/ref=pd_sim_m_1

Dark_Angel
February 19th, 2013, 06:30 PM
how about this bargain? :)

http://www.amazon.com/Verdi-Opern-Operas-Gesamt-complete/dp/B009YNM19C/ref=pd_sim_m_1

I think those are mostly 1950s Callas recordings so yeah I can dig that......:encouragement:

Jephtha
March 4th, 2013, 06:31 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61GRffp-BzL._SS500_.jpg


In November of 1994 a new production of La traviata premiered at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Several prominent music critics were present on opening night, and, they having acclaimed the production as a perfect representation of Verdi's and Piave's intentions, the opera was taped live during performances the following month by Decca. Not least of the elements causing such a stir was the fact that Violetta and Alfredo were being portrayed by young, attractive singers with fresh, healthy voices singing their roles for the first time. Also performing the work for the first time was the former music director of the Royal Opera, Sir Georg Solti. All of the pieces were in place to make this a Traviata for the ages.

At the time this recording was made, Angela Gheorghiu was a young Romanian soprano who had only just graduated from the Bucharest Music Academy some three and a half years prior. Young, pretty and possessing a decent lyric soprano voice, to all appearances she was the ideal choice for Violetta. Indeed, as the opera opens this seems to be the case. This Violetta is a gracious hostess, but is also confident and even more excited than her guests about the dinner party. Her opening lines are as well sung as I have ever heard them, perhaps more so. In the drinking song, the gruppetti and grace notes are sung clearly, yet fully integrated into the musical line; both she and Frank Lopardo as Alfredo sing through the phrases winningly, with dark, attractive tone. Later, in 'Un di felice', Mr. Lopardo is touching in his portrayal of Alfredo's youthful ardor, his occasional under-the-note attack only slightly marring the pleasure. Violetta's 'Ah, se cio e ver' in this performance is the finest I have ever heard; perfect singing of Verdi's line, musical and light, if not quite flirtatious enough. Still, so far so good.

It is with the great scena that ends Act I that doubts begin to creep in. While it is certainly well sung, there is little feeling of inwardness(it is, after all, a soliloquy), and the emotion that is present seems generic and calculated. The recitative linking cavatina and cabaletta is even stranger, an excess of melodrama distancing the listener and giving the impression that Violetta is a detached observer of, rather than a participant in, her own tragedy. 'Sempre libera', on the other hand, is light and graceful, with good coloratura but no capping E-flat.

The scene between Violetta and Germont in Act II is, in my view, the great test of the artistry of the lead soprano, and it is here that Miss Gheorghiu, as my sainted grandmother would have said, comes a cropper. Again and again in my notes I find the words 'beautifully vocalised, but no true feeling'. When there is feeling, it is of the wrong sort: 'Non sapete', far from being wild or desperate, sounds like an empress chastising a servant, and 'Dite alla giovine' might almost be an etude, so little feeling is there in the singing. The rest of her performance suffers from similar miscalculations and inadequacies. At 'Amami, Alfredo' the voice is simply incapable, either musically or dramatically, of expanding to the extent necessary for full expression of Violetta's emotions: Adina attempting to sing Norma. 'Addio del passato' is pale and melodramatic simultaneously, and worst of all, 'Ah! gran Dio, morir si giovine' moves quickly from bitter anger to near-coquettishness, as grotesque a progression as I have ever heard in this passage. In sum, sadly, a great opportunity missed.

The rest of the performance offers little compensation. Mr. Lopardo's habit of attacking notes from below worsens as the evening progresses, lending many of his lines an effete and sentimental tone. He is more forthright in 'Oh mio rimorso!'; in fact, interestingly, both men's Act II cabalettas in this uncut performance are more successful than the arias themselves. 'Parigi o cara' is well-sung enough, with good phrasing from tenor and soprano. Leo Nucci as Germont pere, on the other hand, sounds as if he is more concerned with trying to sound like a 'Verdi baritone' than with portraying a credible dramatic character. Dry of tone and perfunctory of manner, he is a blot on a frustratingly inadequate performance. How much of the inadequacy can be laid at the feet of Maestro Solti, it is difficult to gauge. There is a disturbing lack of profundity to too many of the passages for me to think it is all the fault of the singers. Certainly when lightness and grace are called for, as in the matadors' chorus(which is here ideal), we are on terra firma. However, a Traviata in which the bullfighters are the most successful element is Traviata no longer. Well-sung: for the most part yes, especially by the leading lady. Well-interpreted: sadly, no.

Dark_Angel
March 4th, 2013, 08:14 PM
Thanks for the review Jeptha

Not my favorite Traviata for some of the reasons you cite, but it certainly did catapult Gheorghiu into diva status worldwide with no looking back career wise. I had to double check that info about Solti's first Traviata performance, seems hard to believe with his large catalog of Verdi operas but I can find no other recordings

Do you have a favorite Traviata DVD and CD you would like to offer for discussion.....

Jephtha
March 4th, 2013, 09:09 PM
Do you have a favorite Traviata DVD and CD you would like to offer for discussion.....

I have a few, but I would rather not discuss them until I have finished the reviews for the discography in the Traviata In-Depth. It has been so much fun going back and getting re-acquainted with some of the sets that I have not heard in years, and I don't want to prejudice myself before the fact. When I am done, though, I'll be up for some lively back-and-forth about the merits and otherwise of the recordings.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
March 5th, 2013, 03:12 AM
Yes, these excellent reviews by our outstanding member Jephtha were "commissioned" by Opera Lively, to finally complete our La Traviata In-Depth, which was missing discography reviews, since the original reviews when we first authored this series of articles in another venue, were written by someone who didn't join us here. Since our Jephtha's reviews are so exquisite, we won't miss anything by not having imported those other reviews.

I've been adding Jephtha's reviews to the Traviata In-Depth series, and I look forward to more!

Thank you, dear Jephtha; having you on board was a great addition to Opera Lively!!

Jephtha
March 5th, 2013, 04:12 PM
Yes, these excellent reviews by our outstanding member Jephtha were "commissioned" by Opera Lively, to finally complete our La Traviata In-Depth, which was missing discography reviews, since the original reviews when we first authored this series of articles in another venue, were written by someone who didn't join us here. Since our Jephtha's reviews are so exquisite, we won't miss anything by not having imported those other reviews.

I've been adding Jephtha's reviews to the Traviata In-Depth series, and I look forward to more!

Thank you, dear Jephtha; having you on board was a great addition to Opera Lively!!

Thank YOU, dear Almaviva, for this opportunity to share my views. You have created a wonderful online world here for all opera lovers to enjoy and participate in, and I feel grateful for the warm welcome I received from everyone when I joined back in November 2012, and fortunate to be part of such an outstanding group of opera experts and aficionados. Now, back to the Traviatas...

Jephtha
March 11th, 2013, 05:11 PM
1798

In the 1970's, the Australian soprano Joan Sutherland began re-recording several of the complete roles she had taped in the '60's, only this time with her husband, Richard Bonynge, as conductor. One of the roles she chose to re-do was Violetta in La traviata, which she and Bonynge set down for Decca in December 1979 when the soprano was fifty-six years of age. It must be admitted that she is not in freshest voice, and certainly the musical line sometimes sags under the weight of her 'drooping' vocal approach. However, her years of experience in the role yield many insights and rewarding moments throughout the set.

By this point in their careers, Sutherland and Bonynge had gathered round them a repertory company of singers that included mezzos Marilyn Horne and Huguette Tourangeau, tenors Luciano Pavarotti and Giacomo Aragall, and basses Clifford Grant and Joseph Rouleau. On this occasion, Alfredo is portrayed by Mr. Pavarotti, Miss Sutherland's most frequent tenor partner in complete opera recordings of this period. Neither singer was a great actor, but creatures of the theatre they certainly were, and that comes across in this performance. The characters are painted with broad brush strokes and grand gestures, but the effect is never hammy or silly. It is a bit odd to experience an intimate drama like La traviata this way: rather like seeing a Chekhov play that has been filmed entirely in facial close-ups projected onto a stadium-sized screen. However, once you have adjusted to the expanded scale, it is quite enjoyable.

Among the more successful parts of the performance, perhaps because of the larger-than-life quality of the leads, are the party scenes in Act I and Act II, scene ii. The soprano and tenor do not scale back their approach for the microphone, but rather play to the opera house audience they so frequently performed for. This is fine for numbers like 'Libiamo', but can be somewhat disconcerting in items like 'Un di felice', where a greater degree of intimacy is required. Miss Sutherland does manage to scale back a bit for 'Ah, fors e lui', and later her brilliant top register is well-displayed, with a gorgeous high D-flat starting the roulade that leads into 'Sempre libera', and a less gorgeous yet still impressive high E flat capping the scene. The second verses of both cavatina and cabaletta are lightly decorated in this uncut performance.

Mr. Pavarotti opens the second act with an ardent 'De miei bollenti spiriti', which restores the pizzicato accompaniment of Verdi's autograph rather than the bowed figures usually heard here. The tenor's emphasis throughout the recording is rather more on Alfredo's youthful ardor and impetuosity than on his poetic nature, and this approach pays off in the cabaletta 'O mio rimorso!' What a pleasure to hear a native Italian speaker singing off the words and using the consonants to drive the rhythm, much as a great instrumentalist enlivens the musical line with strong and varied articulations. Lack of dramatic subtlety can certainly be forgiven in return for singing of this caliber.

The Violetta-Germont scene brings out the best in Miss Sutherland, partly because she rises to the standard set by the vivid and affecting Germont of Matteo Manuguerra, and partly because of the sensitive leadership of the conductor. Richard Bonynge, who has been disparaged in the past by being referred to as 'Mr. Sutherland', nonetheless has a comprehensive knowledge of and affinity for the bel canto idiom, and he demonstrates that here. The musical line is given its due importance, and he sculpts phrases with a view to allowing the singers to breathe and sing naturally. Mr. Manuguerra, a most under-rated artist, gives us a clear view of Germont's emotional progression: angry at first, then pleading at 'Pura siccome un angelo'. By the time we have reached 'Un di quando le veneri', the gentle rapport established between the two is such that, for once, Germont's sudden address of Violetta by her Christian name does not jar the listener. When baritone and soprano unite for the reprise of 'Dite alla giovine', we hear two great artists completely in sync, musically and dramatically. Miss Sutherland's emotional gradations in this scene are delicate and keyed to the musical changes. Later, when the two discuss how to inform Alfredo of the break, his father is just as horrified as his lover at the idea of the separation. 'Di provenza' is imploring and heartbroken, yet suffused with an almost childlike hope. The father's cry of 'Dio m'esaudi' is touching in its simple faith, rather than the dogmatic utterance of a 'whited sepulchre'.

The rest of the performance is more conventional. Amongst the supporting cast are found the names of such luminaries of the 1970's London opera scene as Della Jones, Alexander Oliver and John Tomlinson. It is amusing, in the party scene at Flora's house, to hear arguably the greatest Handel singer of her generation flirting with a future Bayreuth Wotan. The chorus is crisp in rhythm and diction, and the orchestra shines, with some excellent woodwind work in 'Di provenza' and an eloquent oboe solo in 'Addio del passato', which is here given a reading both desolate and despairing at a very slow tempo indeed. To sum up, this is a Traviata with its focus firmly on vocal and musical values. The artistry of the three lead singers takes the day and makes this a performance no lover of great singing should miss.

Jephtha
April 8th, 2013, 05:55 PM
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In December 1964 a new production of La traviata opened at La Scala, conducted by Herbert von Karajan and featuring Mirella Freni in her first assumption of the role of Violetta. It was not well received by the Milanese, who seemed to consider Miss Freni more suited to Susanna and Mimi rather than to the doomed courtesan. So negative was their response, in fact, at least according to hearsay, that it was thought expedient to bring in Anna Moffo after opening night to complete the remaining performances in the run. Whatever the reason for the change, live recordings were taken of both ladies in the production, and we will here concern ourselves with Miss Freni.

The Karajan 'touch' is immediately apparent in the prelude, in which the strings are weighty yet transparent, a combination not often heard in Scala recordings of this vintage. It made me wonder if Karajan had indulged in his familiar Berlin Philharmonic habit of tuning each desk of string players a few commas off from his neighbor, thus achieving a sumptuous, shimmering Mantovani-type sound. At any rate, the effect is marvelous. We also hear already the signature Karajan virtues of the long legato line and broad, over-arching phrasing, as if the bar lines didn't exist. The prelude thus becomes a tone poem in miniature, a 'song without words' as it were, portraying Violetta's thoughts and emotions without benefit of sung text.

Miss Freni is light and brilliant in the opening scene, and throughout the evening her singing continues as she has begun, combining full-throated, creamy tone with a much-appreciated attention to detail and characterisation. In the Libiamo Karajan phrases through bar lines with the lightest of touches, giving a lift and a charming airy quality to a number that admittedly can evince a touch of the 'organ-grinder' under less conscientious leadership. The singers follow his lead, phrasing lightly and singing with a good sense of pulse and forward motion. Later, at 'Un di, felice', Renato Cioni as Alfredo displays attractive, youthful tone and manner, but his voice too often turns nasal and reedy, and his quasi-verismo sob at 'Di quell amor' is ludicrous. This was not the only point in the performance where I regretted that Cioni and Giorgio Goretti, the Gastone of the evening, had not exchanged roles: Mr. Goretti struck me as a far more secure and suitable singer for the role than Mr. Cioni.

'Ah, fors e lui' has a lovely inward quality, but is unfortunately marred by occasional flatness of pitch. The singer is also strained by Karajan's very slow tempo here. The cabaletta is not bad, with decent coloratura, but the high Cs and D-flats are sometimes as much as a quarter tone flat, causing the listener to flinch every time the vocal line ventures into the upper register. The unwritten concluding E-flat is, perhaps wisely, avoided. Somewhat cruelly, the second CD of the set concludes with Maria Callas' rendition of the cabaletta from several of her live performances, as if to show up Miss Freni's nerves even more clearly.

At 'De miei bollenti spiriti' Mr. Cioni enjoys his finest moment of the evening. This tricky piece, which in too many renditions is distorted and pulled out of shape by unmusical tenors and incompetent conductors, is here given a well-nigh perfect reading. The orchestra swells and recedes at Karajan's slightest suggestion, and Mr. Cioni's former tight and bleating quality here relaxes into a well-phrased and honorably sung moment, in which singer and conductor are perfectly in sync with one another.

The Violetta-Germont scene is here the emotional centerpiece of the opera, as it should be. Mario Sereni, despite conventional dramatic manners and an ordinary voice, nevertheless plays well off Miss Freni, aided by Karajan's superb building of the dramatic tension. Violetta's 'Cosi alla misera' made me sit up and take notice: the layering of her cantabile line as against the obsessive repeated-note figure in the second violins(her agitation)and the striding pizzicati in the lower strings(Germont's implacability)melded into a moment of supreme drama. Karajan's over-arching phrasing and pointing of the musical structure through agogic accents and a judicious use of silence ensure that this peak of Verdi's art receives a performance worthy of its genius. The whole scene has a beautifully intimate feel rarely encountered in live performance, or in the studio, for that matter.

Later in the act, 'Amami, Alfredo' is recognisably the despairing cry of a young girl, yet all the feeling that Violetta is experiencing is present. Sereni does justice to 'Di Provenza', his secure upper register serving him well. The second scene of the act need not detain us, save to note that Cioni's vocal quality has deteriorated almost past redemption, and Violetta's 'Alfredo, Alfredo' is again an example of total accord between singer and conductor, touchingly sung and sensitively conducted.

The third act is well done, with 'Addio del passato' and 'Parigi, o cara' taken very slowly indeed. Miss Freni is slightly artificial in this act, as though she were trying too hard to convey Violetta's dying state. However, it is very well sung, and the final scene is quite moving. Overall, the performance is a decent one, though marred by an awkward balance that favors the orchestra excessively: the Violetta-Alfredo scene just before his denunciation of her at Flora's party is all but covered by the pit players, and 'Teneste la promessa' sounds for all the world like a violin concerto with a woman mumbling in the background. It is to be regretted that Karajan never chose to document his reading in the studio, making this performance doubly valuable as a record of both his and Miss Freni's artistry in this work.

Schigolch
April 8th, 2013, 06:20 PM
Mr. Karajan was really very hard on Ms. Freni... To sing Traviata with her instrument, and at La Scala!. Well, of course the coloratura is not precisely dizzying, though quite limpid, and musical, and her phrasing on the second act, and at the end was very beautiful. After all, she was incapable of bad singing. But her voice and her limited dynamic range, were not the best for Violetta.

In fact, she only sang the role a few months later, in Modena (a big success, logically) and in London. Then the video with Bonisolli and Bruscantini (a nice one), and that's all. There are also recordings from the Modena and London's performances.

Jephtha
April 8th, 2013, 06:42 PM
Mr. Karajan was really very hard on Ms. Freni... To sing Traviata with her instrument, and at La Scala!. Well, of course the coloratura is not precisely dizzying, though quite limpid, and musical, and her phrasing on the second act, and at the end was very beautiful. After all, she was incapable of bad singing. But her voice and her limited dynamic range, were not the best for Violetta.

In fact, she only sang the role a few months later, in Modena (a big success, logically) and in London. Then the video with Bonisolli and Bruscantini (a nice one), and that's all. There are also recordings from the Modena and London's performances.

Thank you Schigolch for referring to the later performances with Bonisolli. I knew I had heard this version at some point many years ago, but became confused by reports that the La Scala was Freni's only Violetta.

I quite agree that Karajan put Miss Freni through the proverbial 'wringer'. Beautiful as her performance is, Violetta really was not, as you say, her role. I have often regretted that Miss Freni and Mr. Carreras heeded Karajan's urgings to take on more dramatic roles, as it seemed to take a heavy toll on their voices. Mr. Carreras perhaps suffered more from this, his voice becoming labored and uncontrolled; a terrible waste of a great talent. Miss Freni seemed to pass through her 'Karajan period' relatively unscathed, but a comparison of her voice before and after this time shows that what had been a dulcet, creamy instrument became metallic and monochromatic and lost its youthful freshness. Really, to sing Aida in the big auditorium at Salzburg! What can she have been thinking? But I have heard many singers attest to the difficulty of saying 'No' to Karajan. He demanded that Behrens sing Senta and she refused(at that early point in her career), so he scratched her off his 'list'. Bernd Weikl turned down his offer of Siegmund(!), and the conductor never hired him again. And in those days, when Karajan was considered the Generalmusikdirektor of Europe, such refusals carried the possibility of career suicide.

Schigolch
April 8th, 2013, 07:11 PM
Please listen when you can to the Modena recording. Perhaps is her best Violetta.

Alfredo Kraus, after singing Don Ottavio at Szalburg during two consecutive years, rejected a contract extension. He was not fully confortable with the role (not with the singing aspects, rather with its personality), and he was tired of working in August. Karajan threatened him, but the Spanish tenor was not one to give way, so he rejected the proposition out of hand. Of course, his career was really great, though he was never a very public person.

Jephtha
April 8th, 2013, 07:25 PM
Please listen when you can to the Modena recording. Perhaps is her best Violetta.

Alfredo Kraus, after singing Don Ottavio at Szalburg during two consecutive years, rejected a contract extension. He was not fully confortable with the role (not with the singing aspects, rather with its personality), and he was tired of working in August. Karajan threatened him, but the Spanish tenor was not one to give way, so he rejected the proposition out of hand. Of course, his career was really great, though he was never a very public person.

Yes, I will. I am certain now it is the one I heard about twenty years ago, but I cannot recall the details. I am looking forward to getting re-acquainted with it.

Good for Kraus! I am sure his ability to refuse unsuitable assignments was one of the factors that increased his vocal longevity; not that Don Ottavio is likely to ruin anyone's voice. Helen Donath is another singer who was able to turn Karajan down(he wanted her to sing Fidelio! :ohmy:)and has enjoyed a miraculously long career as a result.

MAuer
April 9th, 2013, 05:55 PM
Helen Donath is another singer who was able to turn Karajan down(he wanted her to sing Fidelio! :ohmy:)and has enjoyed a miraculously long career as a result.

Good Gawd! I prefer lighter voices (i.e., lyric spintos) in this opera's two leads, but if Donath was going to sing Leonore, who on earth was going to sing Marzelline? One of the Vienna Choirboys?

Schigolch
April 9th, 2013, 06:01 PM
Donath was great singing Nina Micheltorena.

Jephtha
April 9th, 2013, 07:02 PM
Good Gawd! I prefer lighter voices (i.e., lyric spintos) in this opera's two leads, but if Donath was going to sing Leonore, who on earth was going to sing Marzelline? One of the Vienna Choirboys?

Probably Emma Kirkby or someone like that.

Jephtha
April 9th, 2013, 08:02 PM
Donath was great singing Nina Micheltorena.

Her next role is Angelotti's sister.

Amfortas
April 9th, 2013, 08:08 PM
Her next role is Angelotti's sister.

One of my favorite characters, these days. :)

Dark_Angel
April 21st, 2013, 01:33 PM
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Rigoletto is the best performance/production so far of the new Tutto Verdi series from Parma.

Leo Nucci is a great Rigoletto and has many other performances on disc, Gilda of Nino Machaidze is the big upside surprise here. She captures the innocence and heartbreak so well, she gets better and better vocally every time I see her, very impressive overall. I prefer her to recent Elena Mosuc Gilda (also with Nucci) and gives Damrau a very close race for Gilda. Nino's smile and vibrant personality are very evident at curtain call, a delightful performer that has bright future

The duke is unknown to me Francesco Demuro but was very good as well both singing and acting, the simple small traditional production was again one the the very best of this series with lavish costumes and great atmosphere

Jephtha
May 6th, 2013, 08:00 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51XOB2-CgIL._SL500_.jpg


One of the most controversial aspects of performances of the music of earlier centuries is the question of style. We possess recordings of singers who worked with Verdi, Wagner, Puccini and others, but how far these recordings should be taken as representative of the intentions of the composer in question is a nice point, given the myriad problems in recording for the gramophone in its early years. The controversy deepens if we disregard recordings and look at the scores themselves. The stylistic questions become far more difficult to answer, and are often subject to the performer's discretion. Should the soprano use chest voice or not? If so, where? How high should she carry it? Must the tenor bellow out each note above the stave as if he were calling for help from another galaxy, or is head voice permitted occasionally? Would a tenor who used voix mixte in Verdi be laughed(or booed)off the stage? And what, exactly, constitutes proper Verdian style? These are prickly questions which must be answered anew by each succeeding generation of performers.

In the late spring and early summer of 1960 the American soprano Anna Moffo recorded Violetta with the forces of the Rome Opera, supported by her Metropolitan Opera colleagues Robert Merrill and Richard Tucker as Germont pere et fils. Miss Moffo was a frustrating artist. Possessor of a beautiful lyric soprano voice, as well as a stunningly gorgeous face and figure, for a short time she had the opera world at her feet. She was renowned as Violetta, Lucia and in many other roles, some of which she filmed. Unfortunately, along with the face, figure and voice went an increasingly troubling set of vocal mannerisms that may have contributed to her vocal decline in the 1970's. These mannerisms are to be heard from time to time in the performance under review.

Act I begins well. Miss Moffo is the charming, flirtatious hostess to the life, if rather two-dimensional in her acting. The drinking song is light and airy in feel, well-sung by Miss Moffo and Mr. Tucker(though not by the Rome Opera chorus, whose consistent failure to hit the right notes is a blot on this set). Later, in 'Un di felice', Mr. Tucker is disappointingly prosaic: 'Di quell amor' sounds like a middle-aged banker rather than an ardent young poet. Miss Moffo's coy flirtatiousness here, however, is just right, and Mr. Tucker rises to her rather higher standard in the cadenza.

The scena which ends the act is well done, for the most part, but it is here that we begin to hear the afore-mentioned mannerisms. The recitative is excellent, with each line receiving its own special feeling and expression. This is exactly the right approach to accompanied recitative, and Miss Moffo is here ideal. In 'Ah, fors e lui', however, the soprano's occasional under-the-note attack, which she appears to have used as an expressive device, ensures that the intonation of the cavatina is in constant flux, usually tending toward the flat side of the pitch. In the final phrase of the cadenza, at the rising arpeggio E-G-B flat-D on 'croce e delizia', Miss Moffo darkens the first D and brightens the second so extremely that the syllables in question become 'de-lüh-zi-anh'. The unavoidable loss here of a clear intonational base means that the final F on 'cor' is hopelessly out of tune. Vocal mannerisms are not in and of themselves a bad thing, especially if they aid the singer in the expression of the text, but the moment they interfere with basic principles of good singing, they should be either reworked or abandoned. 'Sempre libera' is generally good, but here the soprano is consistently sharp throughout, and the coloratura(particularly the rising scales at the close)is surprisingly sloppy for a singer who was famous for her portrayal of Lucia di Lammermoor. The final scale, to top C, is virtually a glissando of white noise, a colorless smear of sound rather than a string of distinct and separate pitches. The crowning high E-flat is acidulous in the extreme and has more than a hint of the fishwife to it.

Act II also begins well. 'De miei bollenti spiriti' seems to inspire its interpreters to excel themselves, and Mr. Tucker is no exception. The preceding recitative is if anything finer than what follows, light and 'on the breath', youthful in feel. The aria(which is shorn of its cabaletta; all theatre cuts are observed in this recording)is very well-sung if rather generic in feeling; the final cries of 'Io vivo quasi in ciel' lack the glowing rapture they should be expressing. But there is no denying the expert vocalism on display here.

With the entrance of Germont pere, both the musical and the dramatic standards are raised several notches. Mr. Merrill was not the subtlest of actors, but here the interplay with Violetta seems to inspire both singers to greater dramatic heights than they would normally scale. In fact, it crossed my mind more than once that the scene in this performance would work just as well without the music, so sensitive yet vivid is the singers' coloration of their lines. Alas that the high dramatic values did not inspire Miss Moffo to a greater effort vocally. While the duet passages are well done, Violetta's solo sections(apart from 'Non sapete', quite good here)are marred by her continued use of under-the-note attack, and also by an artificial darkening of the voice to the point that some passages are all but unlistenable: 'Dite alla giovine', for instance, is excruciatingly flat. It also sounds from time to time as if the soprano has trouble finding the centre of her voice, timbre-wise, which leads to more pitch problems. She does, rally, however, and the scene is brought to a moving close by both artists. Mr. Merrill is affecting, too, in his scene with Mr. Tucker, although 'Di Provenza', while certainly sung quite beautifully, is somewhat conventional and lacking in feeling. The scene at Flora's party is fine, and Violetta's cries of 'Pieta, gran Dio! di me' are most affecting. Alfredo's remorse after the denunciation, though, is ruined by Mr. Tucker's quasi-verismo ranting and sobbing, which is completely out of place in Verdi, particularly one of the middle period works. The recording producer's firm hand was badly needed here.

Act III is the best of the lot. 'Teneste la promessa' is whispered throughout, and 'E tardi' is murmured rather than groaned, avoiding the melodrama that so often plagues this passage. 'Addio del passato' is pensive, sad and extremely well-sung; the final high A is a true fil di voce. Later, 'Parigi o cara' is excellent in feel and sound, marred only by Mr. Tucker's refusal to sing sotto voce in the cadenza.

To sum up, while this is not the finest Traviata recording available, it is far from the worst, and fans of the leading singers will hear them in typical form. Fans of Giuseppe Verdi, however, must search elsewhere for a truly profound and worthy rendition of this most delicate and poetic of the Master's works.

Itullian
May 7th, 2013, 12:52 AM
Great review Jephtha, thank you.

Nervous Gentleman
May 17th, 2013, 08:54 PM
Giuseppe Verdi - Il Trovatore (Wien, 1978)
Herbert von Karajan
Domingo, Kabaivanksa, Cossotto, Cappuccilli, van Dam, Zednik

2007

This is without a doubt one of the dullest and most lifeless performances of this opera that I have sat through. I can't for the life of me understand the praise heaped upon this disc by most of the reviewers at Amazon. The tempi is agonizingly slow, the staging is non-existent, the sets and costumes, etc. look to be drab and well worn retreads and the performers look by turns uncomfortable or bored. Having recently viewed numerous earlier versions (the imaginative 1949 film version, the 1957 and 1966 RAI telefilms and the 1975 West German telefim -- all lip-synched, as well as the 1972 Teatro romano de Orange production with the distracting film direction) this 1978 Vienna performance falls flat in every department. Perhaps others can offer more informed opinions as to the musical attributes of this particular DVD.

:disgust:

Schigolch
May 17th, 2013, 10:36 PM
Many opera fans don't really care very much about staging, sets, costumes, .... :). Others do, but at the end "Trovatore" is an orgy of melody, an opera of voices, not of characters.

In terms of voices, Kabaivanska is an aristocratic Leonora, a paragon of elegance in her singing. While Domingo is a fresh, manly Manrico, with his usual shortcomings in the top notes. And Cossotto, also a little bit short in her upper register, but a great Azucena. It's true Karajan's tempi are rather slow (even too slow sometimes, like in "Di tale amor che dirsi"), but he extracts a powerful sound from the orchestra, but also full of nuances.

Dark_Angel
May 18th, 2013, 01:32 AM
Many opera fans don't really care very much about staging, sets, costumes, .... :). Others do, but at the end "Trovatore" is an orgy of melody, an opera of voices, not of characters.

In terms of voices, Kabaivanska is an aristocratic Leonora, a paragon of elegance in her singing. While Domingo is a fresh, manly Manrico, with his usual shortcomings in the top notes. And Cossotto, also a little bit short in her upper register, but a great Azucena. It's true Karajan's tempi are rather slow (even too slow sometimes, like in "Di tale amor che dirsi"), but he extracts a powerful sound from the orchestra, but also full of nuances.

This Trovatore production will never win awards for visual style/quality especially the corny video treatment of act 1 garden scence with edges of picture blurred to simulate looking through bushes, and HVK does musically drag in many spots.....but the singing quality will never be matched today on video.

Rania is a beautiful glorious voiced Leonora and Fiorenza Cossotto is the greatest Azucena I have ever heard, she has such dramatic intensity and fire (no pun intended he he)

This video version very cheap as part of Domingo Vol II collection:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/515arsDBy8L._SY300_.jpg

Nervous Gentleman
May 18th, 2013, 04:39 AM
Oh, don't get me wrong. I worship Cossotto and I really appreciate Kabaivanska and the other notables in this performance, but I think all are far from their best in this particular instance. Cossotto, I think, is the most impressive here but she is noticeably struggling with the slow tempi, like the proverbial colt bucking in the harness (or however the old saying goes). The plodding tempi robs the piece of all its fire and, consequently, none of the singers seem to be "in the groove." As much as I admire Cossotto, she doesn't make nearly as great an impression upon me in this particular role as several earlier performers, notably Fedora Barbieri, Giulietta Simionato & Adriana Lazzarini. Then again, I am not yet familiar with the other recordings of her in this role.

Schigolch
May 18th, 2013, 09:23 AM
My feeling is, speaking of tempi, "if in doubt, speed up". :)

However, what Karajan is doing here is giving the singers, and the orchestra, the opportunity to express themselves at ease, while he himself manages to introduce a beautiful sense of flowing, with the transitions being very well marked, and each scene given a separate life of its own, without using the 'easy' way and introduce a marked change of speed. This is very difficult to achieve.

Of course, that doesn't mean this is the only way to conduct "Trovatore", or that it should be loved by all fans. Nothing is. I know a long time fan (he is now 84 years old), a guy with incredible knowlege and thousands of evenings spent at the opera house, that has exactly the same reservations with this recording than Nervous Gentleman.

It's available on youtube, so everyone can make his own mind:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoycxfXBLI8

Nervous Gentleman
May 18th, 2013, 08:45 PM
Re: tempi, it's also entirely possible that because I have watched and listened to so many different performances of this piece over the past several months that I am now at the saturation point in which I get impatient if it seems to be moving too slowly!

Perhaps it's time for me to put this one aside for a while...

:lalala:

Dark_Angel
May 18th, 2013, 09:00 PM
Re: tempi, it's also entirely possible that because I have watched and listened to so many different performances of this piece over the past several months that I am now at the saturation point in which I get impatient if it seems to be moving too slowly!

It is definitely slow tempo even by Karajan standards, compare to his famous live 1962 Salzburg Festival Trovatore with young Leontyne Price and Franco Corelli where tempos are noticeably faster and more lifted......very good Azucena here also with Simionatto

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BnILtAa9L._SY300_.jpg

Schigolch
May 19th, 2013, 05:40 PM
Well, talking about famous Karajan's Trovatores, I guess this is the one: :)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKzsnmWJgys

Dark_Angel
May 19th, 2013, 06:18 PM
Well, talking about famous Karajan's Trovatores, I guess this is the one: :)


Yes Maria is our favorite Leonora for sure, have you heard parts of her 1950 Mexico tour Trovatores.....some crazy singing technique, the massive high note climax of "Tacea la notte placida" after a difficult colortura run would never be attempted today (5:10)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKhLirGTI50&feature=player_detailpage

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jfdtJbqnLE4/Tlxvmu1dYLI/AAAAAAAACvY/T2lo30XJBmk/s1600/maria+callas+leonora+mexico+il+trovatore+1950.png (http://operalively.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=callas+trovatore+1950&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&docid=KgyanSj2jdgUvM&tbnid=cGXbe2WB-400EM:&ved=0CAUQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Foperafresh.blogspot.com%2F2011%2F 08%2Fmaria-callas-electrifying-first.html&ei=HBiZUbrJE8ePyAGu_ICoCQ&psig=AFQjCNGbqU00u2pePSsCVdCkCmh4BV1VYQ&ust=1369074074838700)