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Thread: Operas by Puccini on DVD/Blu-Ray/CD

          
   
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  1. #1
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Operas by Puccini on DVD/Blu-Ray/CD

    Puccini: Edgar on DVD


    This production takes the cake for the worst singing ever. It's risible and pathetic. And mind you, the leading soprano is Montserrat Caballé's daughter, Montserrat Martí. Apparently Mr. Bernabé Martí's (Caballé's husband) genes were stronger than Caballé's, because their daughter can't sing (even though he was a tenor). Ms. Martí, other than some singing lessons from her mother, could also use a plastic surgeon's help, to redo her nose (now I'm being mean). The other female, Halla Margret, not only can't sing, but also can't act. She is not bad looking, though (it's her, on the cover), but this can't save her. I like my cute sopranos better when they can sing.


    Halla Margret

    The tenor is amazingly bad. Name is Dario Balzanelli. Even Andrea Bocelli would have done better. Was he paid to appear, or is he some kind of amateur? He should be paying *us* for putting up with him. The minor roles are all badly sung as well.

    If an opera novice wants to understand the difference between good and bad singing, this DVD is a must buy, to get the bad singing part. It is also recommended to voice teachers. After all, students must learn how *not* to sing.

    The acting is not too hot either.

    Sound balance is terrible. When the singers start to bark and shriek you can't hear the orchestra, and you need to keep adjusting the volume. Maybe this is a good thing though, because this Orchestra Filarmonica Mediterranea is not that good either.

    The DVD has no features other than English subtitles and chapter selection (It's a Kultur product - they're often like this). Staging is traditional and not good, nor bad. It seems like the background is the Termas di Caracalla.

    Regarding the music itself, I'm not very impressed (even though there is a chance that my perception is being hindered by the annoying singing of this production). There are a few good moments, but this is far from Puccini's subsequent heights, and the plot looks to me like a poor man's Carmen. I think that if the name Puccini wasn't attached to this opera, it would have been long forgotten.

    According to Annie, the other DVD version of this opera has weak singing as well. I guess we'll have to hope that a decent opera company takes on this work at some point, and then maybe my opinion of it will improve, but for now I give it a C-.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  2. #2
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Puccini: Le Villi on DVD


    This is an opera-ballo (opera-ballet), Puccini's first.

    Mediterranean Choir and Orchestra Filarmonica Mediterranea conducted by Tamas Pal (who?)
    Albert Montserrat (Roberto), Halla Margret (Anna), Andrea Rola - wrongly credited as Montserrat Martì on the cover but his name is actually Andrea Rola (Guglielmo) are the singers
    MedEnsemble has supplied the (very pretty) dancers

    Rather unknown maestro and orchestra (I think I've seen a production with this orchestra before, but I don't remember which one), and singers.

    First of all, Halla Margret the soprano is very pretty, but is a disaster as a singer. Whether someone will enjoy this DVD or not depends a lot on the person's ability to forgive her and savor other aspects of this production. Since I'm a little biased in the matter of pretty women, I think I'll suspend my disbelief of the fact that she is supposed to be a professional soprano, and just enjoy her looks (it's like she is a very good looking actress but not a singer - one wonders if they ran out of sopranos and just got this girl from some theater company - or not, because her acting is not too hot either, poor thing). OK, I looked her up, she's a pop singer from Iceland. I knew she couldn't be an operatic singer. Oh well, like I said, she looks good. Oh wait, I've just noticed (I'm typing this while I browse the web with split windows) that she's the same one whom I saw in Edgar, and she couldn't sing there either. This settles it, it's not that she's just having a bad day.

    The tubby tenor sings a lot better; the baritone, not so well but not terribly (sorry, he looks ridiculous, no eye-candy for the ladies). The chorus is good (actually the chorus provides the best singing), and the dancers are OK and *very* pretty (the merits of this production reside more in the eye-candy department for the boys than in the singing).

    The opera itself is no La Bohème but is enjoyable enough as a curiosity in terms of getting to know early Puccini, in spite of the very silly plot with fairies. It is made even sillier by the narration that is employed to tell us about the legend of the Villi. At least the opera is short (running time around one hour). Musically there are some very decent parts (pleasant, beautiful orchestration and a couple of good arias); not bad for a first effort by a composer.

    It's a traditional production with cheap looking but decent scenarios, nothing offensive. Some costumes and wigs are a little ridiculous (especially Guglielmo's). Technically speaking it is a Kultur product so you know what to expect, but not as bad as many other Kultur DVDs, in the sense that the image is good with sharp definition, bright colors, good lighting, and it is widescreen. You can turn off the subtitles (English only), and the sound balance is not horrible; one can hear both the singers and the orchestra very well, unlike the rule for Kultur.

    There is no DVD competition (there is a very good CD with Placido Domingo and Renata Scotto, though, and a few others), so I guess, if one absolutely wants to have a DVD of Le Villi (it is not essential to have one, in my opinion), it's recommended because it is not a disaster and the only really bad aspect is the leading lady's singing; other aspects are either not *too* bad, decent, or actually good, especially if one enjoys watching very pretty women dancing, while listening to rather nice music.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  3. #3
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    This one has more negatives than positives, which in my opinion aren't many. There is a lack of chemistry, and a sense of boredom. Yes, it does get better in acts III and IV so don't give up too early, but it is still not a choice production. Karita still steals the show in spite of her age - such an amazing lady! - and when Manon is despondent in acts III and IV her age doesn't show as much as when Manon is supposed to be young, attractive, and lively in acts I and II. Also, this production probably works better for the live audience, because the close-ups are not flattering for a 47 years old Karita trying to portray a teenager. But I forgive her for a few vocal problems given her acting ability. My verdict for this one is 'not recommended' because there are better versions of this opera on DVD.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  4. #4
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Puccini: La Bohème on DVD


    Belatedly, I'm watching and reviewing this DVD with a young Levine, a young Pavarotti...

    I don't need to present all the details, since this is so well known. Let's just say:

    Giacomo Puccini - La Bohème, sung in Italian
    1977, James Levine conducts live the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Luciano Pavarotti (Rodolfo), Renata Scotto (Mimi), Marallin Niska (Musetta), Ingvar Wixell (Marcello), Paul Plishka (Colline); Deutsche Grammophon 2005 DVD release, 123 minutes, 1.33:1 image, PCM, DD 5.1, DTS 5.1, multiple subtitles including Italian and English.

    March 15, 1977 - the very first Met broadcast, 34 years ago! Historic occasion. We're light years from Met in HD...

    Dark period staging, minimalistic, not the great Zeffirelli one that came later. Less than decent sound (I'd say, not decent, period). Less than sharp image (let's be frank, quite blurry).

    So-so preliminary scenes. Adequate supporting cast but nothing spectacular, although likable and not making major mistakes.

    Therefore, your average C- Bohème, right?

    But then... but then...

    Renata comes in... Luciano melts... (he actually *can* act and move around; at least, his young not-so-fat self could).

    And operatic magic explodes... Che gelida manina....

    One of the most spectacular sequences in all of opera starts... and poor Almaviva realizes that one can't really review, evaluate, criticize greatness. This is crystalline, perfectly articulated, perfectly phrased singing by two outstanding artists at the peak of their ability. Enough said. How could I say anything other than... Highly Recommended?

    Are there better La Bohème DVDs? Absolutely, yes. But who cares? What proper opera lover can be called such, while NOT having this historical document? Buy it. Full stop.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  5. #5
    Senior Member Involved Member AnaMendoza's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Puccini: La Bohème on DVD


    Belatedly, I'm watching and reviewing this DVD with a young Levine, a young Pavarotti...

    ...........

    Are there better La Bohème DVDs? Absolutely, yes. But who cares? What proper opera lover can be called such, while NOT having this historical document? Buy it. Full stop.
    This review woke some nostalgia in me. I'd almost forgotten that I watched this broadcast in a music professor's living room. She'd invited a bunch of students over, and even though I wasn't a voice student, I got an invitation. By then, I definitely knew I loved opera, but I knew very little about it. I imagine I'd heard of Pavarotti; definitely had never heard of Scotto, and had no idea that this was a significant event. Looking back, I'd say that I enjoyed it a lot, but wasn't awestruck.

    One amusing memory--believe it or not, I remember reading a review of the performance at the time. The reviewer thought that the Met, reaching out to a wider audience than they had ever reached before, should have paid more attention to the visual aspects of the performance, and cast singers who, while their voices might not have the perfection of Pavarotti and Scotto, were more fitted to play a pair of young lovers. Plus ça change...

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  7. #6
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Puccini: Tosca on Blu-ray



    This is a bargain. $8.99 on Amazon.com, plus 2 hours and 20 minutes of highlights from 47 other productions of opera and ballet.

    Clicky (to buy it).

    2006, Daniel Oren, Orchestra and Chorus of the Arena di Verona
    Stage director, sets, costumes, and lighting: Hugo de Ana

    Floria Tosca - Fiorenza Cedolins
    Mario Cavaradossi - Marcelo Álvarez
    Il Barone Scarpia - Ruggero Raimondi
    Cesare Angelotti - Marco Spotti
    Il Sagrestano - Fabio Previati
    Spoletta - Enrico Facini
    Sciarrone - Giuliano Pelizon
    Un carceriere - Angelo Nardinocchi
    Un pastorello - Ottavia Dorruci

    Image - format 16:9, resolution 1080i full HD
    Sound - PCM Stereo, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    Region - worldwide
    Running time - 119 minutes (opera) - 140 minutes (trailers)

    Unitel Classica release, in co-production with ArtHaus Musik, RAI Trade, TDK, and Fondazione Arena di Verona

    Packaging only includes an insert with a brief essay (4 paragraphes) - the first one about the opera, the next two a sort of synopsis, and the last one about the singers. There is a list of arias with duration but it doesn't include the characters. That's it. Then, a TDK/Arthaus blu-ray catalogue.

    Optional subtitles are in Italian, English, German, French, and Spanish.

    -----------

    The visuals are excellent - impressive setting with nice shots of the Arena di Verona; beautiful and grandiose sets, helped by the clear, bright, precise blu-ray image that highlights very well Tosca's beautiful costumes and the large and rich sets.

    The sound is as good as it can get in such a large open-air setting, but the orchestra does seem flat and distant given the unfavorable acoustics, in spite of the fact that they attack the score with gusto, keeping a lively pace.

    Marco Spotti as Angelotti is weak, his acting is cold, and his voice is small.
    Fabio Previati as the sacristan is barely correct.
    Enrico Facini as Spoletta is mediocre.

    Argentinian tenor Marcelo Álvarez has a beautiful voice. He sings well his lines, his shouts of Victoria! are impressive, and so is his E lucevan le stelle. Of all singers, he is the one that doesn't really suffer from the fact that the venue is open-air, his voice is powerful enough to do well in this setting. His acting is a lot less developeded (this performance was only his second international showing after his debut at Covent Gargen) and unfortunately he has a funny face.

    Veteran Ruggero Raimondi is very good here. He looks mean and bitter, angry and vile, and his acting is convincing. He looks exactly like I imagine Scarpia. He has some trouble singing above the orchestra and the real cannons that keep firing (to great effect) during Tre sbirri, una carroza. But then, the Arena di Verona with its customary grandiosity and excess would make the voice of any singer have some trouble here. I think he did very well and it was a great scene.

    Now, Fiorenza Cedolins. She is one of the reasons why this blu-ray is a good buy (especially considering how cheap it is). While I didn't like her Norma where she seemed to be trying too hard, I mostly loved her Tosca. Ms. Cedolins here looks very attractive and very classy at the same time, fierce and proud but also feminine, like a good Tosca must look. Her acting is fine in some parts, less so in others (not very nuanced). She seems nevertheless very comfortable in this role, the tessitura fits her well; she is reasonably convincing when depicting jealousy, passion, disgust, contempt (could be better, though). Her singing is beautiful even though, like the others (except Álvarez), projecting to such a large open-air venue gests to be difficult at times. Interesting enough, Vissi d'Arte is not really her best moment. She is better in the assassination scene, and the finale (weird, she doesn't jump).

    Overall this blu-ray is on the winning side. Pros include very good technical aspects (image, sound) in beautiful settings, very spectacular sets and costumes, a good Tosca, a very good Scarpia, and a vocally good Cavaradossi. Cons include very weak supporting cast, poor acoustics, weak acting from Cavaradossi, a weak Angelotti. Since I believe that a Tosca production lives or dies on the shoulders of Tosca and Scarpia, I mind less the fact that Cavaradossi has acting flaws and Angelotti is just plain bad.

    While this blu-ray is far from being the best Tosca out there, it is pleasant enough to justify paying 9 bucks for it, not to forget the 47 trailers which are a nice touch. Productions at the Arena di Verona are often better visually than musically, but this one is a notch above most, since it does have some good musical aspects in the singing of the three principals.

    B, recommended (I mean the blu-ray).
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); January 28th, 2012 at 04:58 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  8. #7
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Dark_Angel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post


    B, recommended (I mean the blu-ray).
    Great buy IMO...............that te deum scence is amazing two levels of bishops and elaborate sacred gear, not sure why they had skeleton masks but pretty cool, spectacular visual impact

    Every Tosca has some thing new to learn for the observant viewer, can't have too many
    Cedolins very convincing beautiful Tosca, love the elaborate dress details and colors captured on blu ray, Raimondi is the definitive modern times Scarpia what more needs to be said.....

    Also super cheap blu ray with trailers is this Traviata, get both for sure:


  9. #8
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Dark_Angel's Avatar
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    This is classic MET material 1994..........great production with A list singers.
    Teresa Stratas is the common thread here, although by 1994 she is fairly old but still a great actress

    Il Tabarro (the cloak) is part of Il Trittico short opera set, Domingo is ill fated secret lover who evokes the wrath of a jealous husband who kills him, nothing too great here aria wise but an interesting short drama with a big tragic ending that showcases Stratas acting skills.

    Pagliacci again a similar plot theme where Stratas (Nedda) secret love affair evokes the wrath of jealous husband, this time the husband clown takes revenge on both lovers in a double killing to really end in a bang making the circus stage show a bit too real as shocked crowd soon realizes. Love this production I think Stratas is a great Nedda and the small traveling circus feel is very real in this detailed high quality production.....also Pavarotti is a great Pagliacci vocally but I hate clown make up with beards

    You can't loose with this DVD, 1994 picture quality is very good

  10. #9
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    A Decent Puccini Box-Set For The Mother-in-Law



    Madama Butterfly
    Recorded at Festival Puccini Opera Festival, Torre del Lago – May 2004
    Daniela Dessì (Cio-Cio San), Fabio Armiliato (Pinkerton), Juan Pons (Sharpless), Rossana Rinaldi (Suzuki)
    Placido Domingo (conductor) & Stefano Monti (director)

    La Bohème
    Recorded at the Puccini Festival, Torre del Lago in August 2007
    Norma Fantini (Mimì), Massimiliano Pisapia (Rodolfo), Donata d’Annunzio Lombardi (Musetta), Gabriele Viviani (Marcello), Massimiliano Valleggi (Schaunard)
    Orchestra and Chorus of the Puccini Festival & Children’s Choir of the Puccini Festival, Stewart Robertson (conductor) & Maurizio Scaparro (director)

    Tosca
    Recorded at the Puccini Festival, Torre del Lago, Viareggio, Lucca. August 2007
    Antonia Cifrone (Floria Tosca), Stefano Secco (Mario Cavaradossi), Giorgio Surian (Il Barone Scarpia), Riccardo Ferrari (Cesare Angelotti), Massimo La Guardia (Spoletta), Franco Boscolo (Il Sagrestano), Fernando Ciuffo (Sciarrone), Veio Torcigliani (Un Carceriere) & Giovanni Caramanna (Un Pastore)
    Orchestra and Chorus of Festival Puccini, Valerio Galli (conductor) & Mario Corradi (director)


    Overall, competent productions with some fine singing from each three separate productions. The main advantage is that it is quite cheap coming together as a package, and probably makes a nice present for the mother-in-law (but not for your girlfriend, or for your spouse who probably deserves better premium priced versions of each opera). I paid about US$23 including freight, being a sucker for box-sets despite having good versions of each already. Domingo was the conductor of Butterfly, and it was interesting that the cameras sometimes shifted angles at him instead of the stage at moments that might otherwise still focus on the stage.

  11. #10
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Does anyone here have an opinion of this re-make version of Franco Zeffirelli’s Turandot classic?


  12. #11
    Senior Member Involved Member Couchie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarpsichordConcerto View Post
    Does anyone here have an opinion of this re-make version of Franco Zeffirelli’s Turandot classic?

    I haven't seen the original, but I really enjoyed this one. Spectacularly lavish picture on blu-ray. Well-sung all around, great sound. Only costed like $17 and well worth the money.

  13. #12
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Couchie View Post
    I haven't seen the original, but I really enjoyed this one. Spectacularly lavish picture on blu-ray. Well-sung all around, great sound. Only costed like $17 and well worth the money.
    Thanks, Couchie. I was going to buy it anyway, just wanted to read if anyone has a good or bad opinion here. I enjoy traditional and spectacularly lavish productions, not leaving us to second guess what the hell just happened, as Puccini would have expected.

  14. #13
    Senior Member Involved Member Couchie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarpsichordConcerto View Post
    Thanks, Couchie. I was going to buy it anyway, just wanted to read if anyone has a good or bad opinion here. I enjoy traditional and spectacularly lavish productions, not leaving us to second guess what the hell just happened, as Puccini would have expected.
    I don't think it gets more traditional and lavish than this; enjoy. I also prefer it audio-wise to my Sutherland/Pavarotti recording.

  15. #14
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Dark_Angel's Avatar
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    Tosca now and then with Malfitano....

    I recently picked up the newer Malfitano Tosca and found it partially successful, although the older version with Domingo & Raimondi (Domingo boxset) filmed on location is still better and perhaps the best available DVD version, no weak links!

    Although her voice is now more limited in range Malfitano is a near ideal personality for Tosca, still beautiful and wonderfully dramatic and passionate in her portrayal, she plays the distraught diva so well. Her playful teasing of Cavaradossi in opening, her vengeful fury with Scarpia....all up to her high standards!

    Terfel is so natural playing the vile sleazy Scarpia (perhaps too natural, he he) he did great here, seems to enjoy and thrive on the evil energy. The let down is Margison as Cavaradossi, very average acting and singing plus a less than attractive appearance fell short of the mark and pulls the overall performance down, alas.....

    The hybrid modern staging actually worked well for me, the huge fan/propeller in each sence was a puzzling artifact since it has no real symbolic or practical effect in the opera, some nice dramatic visually stylish scences.

    So if not for the let down of Cavaradossi this woud be very good version, see the final dramatic scence which Malfitano really is in her element:


  16. #15
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Yes. I would agree that the Cavaradossi in this, Richard Margison, is unfortunately so unattractive as to be distracting in the love scenes. I love that final leap of Malfitano's. outlined against the background, hair flying everywhere.
    Natalie

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