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

          
   
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  1. #46
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    Him too. But this ain't his thread.

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnGerald View Post
    3. This one may surprise you: Opera Australia's 1993 production with Cheryl Barker (Mimi), David Hobson (Rodolfo), Roger Lemke (Marcello) and Christine Douglas (Musetta). Staged by Baz Luhrmann, it moves the action to 1950s Paris. What makes this one work so well is the youthful appearance of the singers, with camera work that rivals that of the cinema. Voice quality of the singers is of less quality than the prior two sets, but the "willful suspension of disbelief' factor is huge! My copy is from Image Entertainment, but it has been re-released on Kultur. No Blu ray, but it has decent 5.1 surround. 5 kleenex rating.
    It doesn't surprise me. I own and like this version very much. What does surprise me is that you didn't include La Bellissima's version!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    It doesn't surprise me. I own and like this version very much. What does surprise me is that you didn't include La Bellissima's version!
    Oh oh.


  5. #49
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amfortas View Post
    Oh oh.

    You're clearly underestimating my choice of weapons. Here, more like it:

    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    I loathe the staging of La Belissima's Boheme (but the abridged movie version with Villazon is pretty good), but vocally, it is a winner!.

    I have deployed a nuclear deterrent patterned after Israel's "Iron Dome"; I call it my chrome dome. It involves ... reflective technology.

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  8. #51
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Well that escalated quickly.
    Natalie

  9. #52
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnGerald View Post
    I loathe the staging of La Belissima's Boheme (but the abridged movie version with Villazon is pretty good), but vocally, it is a winner!.

    I have deployed a nuclear deterrent patterned after Israel's "Iron Dome"; I call it my chrome dome. It involves ... reflective technology.
    We also have suitcase nukes. My agents have just planted one in your basement.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  10. #53
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    There goes the AC ...

  11. #54
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    La Bohčme on blu-ray disc



    La Bohčme, dramma lirico in quattro quadri, sung in Italian (premiered at the Teatro Regio, Turin, February 1st, 1896)

    Music by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
    Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, after Henry Murger's Scčnes de la Vie de Bohčme.

    A production from the Salzburger Festspiele 2012 filmed live in the Grosses Festspielehaus, Salzburg, on July 28 and 30, and February 1 and 4, 2012 in a video co-production by ORF, ZDF, NHK and Unitel Classica released on blu-ray by Deutsche Grammophon on December 11, 2012.

    Orchestra: Wiener Philharmoniker
    Conductor: Daniele Gatti
    Choruses: Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor (chorus master Ernst Raffelsberger) and Salzburger Festpiele und Theater Kinderchor (chorus master Wolfgang Götz)

    Stage Director: Damiano Michieletto
    Set Designer: Paolo Fantin
    Costume Designer: Carla Teti
    Lighting Designer: Martin Gebhardt
    Choreographer: Nikolaos Lagousakos

    Video Director: Brian Large

    Cast

    Mimě - Anna Netrebko
    Musetta - Nino Machaidze
    Rodolfo - Piotr Beczala
    Marcello - Massimo Cavalletti
    Schaunard - Alessio Arduini
    Coline - Carlo Colombara
    Benoît - Davide Fersini
    Alcindoro - Peter Kálmán
    Other comprimario roles - Paul Schweinester, Steven Foster, Liviu Gheorghe Burz, Michael Wilder, Martin Müller

    Blu-ray disc, all regions, picture 16:9, 1080p HD, sound PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0
    Runtime 124 minutes
    Subtitles in Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean

    The insert contains 7 production pictures (3 in color), tracklist with musical numbers, characters, and durations; a two-page essay and a very detailed 5-page synopsis, repeated in English, German, and French.

    Available from Amazon for $38 (much cheaper from Amazon Marketplace vendors, starting from $17 + $4 S&H) - [clicky]

    -------------

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    Massimo Cavalletti and Anna Netrebko in Salzburg - La Bohčme act III- photo credit Silvia Lelli (fair promotional use)

    In the context of the upcoming exclusive Opera Lively interview with Massimo Cavalletti (our Marcello in this production, and currently singing Escamillo at the Met) which will occur in two days (stay tuned for the transcript and article, in a few days), I'm reviewing today this rather controversial production, called by many, well, Eurotrash, a term we don't like, but in this case kind of apt due to the fact that, well, trash is a constant prop in this staging.

    Trash or not, there is no doubt that the cast is particularly stellar, with first rank singers Netrebko, Beczala, and Machaidze, supplemented by a team of young Italian singers including our Cavalletti who is a rising star increasingly in demand at the Met and all the important European houses (he was featured in the same role in the recent worldwide Met Live in HD broadcast of La Bohčme on April 5, 2014), and the also very good Arduini and Colombara.

    Not only this contemporary staging (evoking Rent in a sort of reverse homage) caused some trepidation, but maestro Gatti's reading of the score got many detractors, with observations about stretches that were too fast and others that were too slow, as well as dynamic problems with the orchestra playing too loudly and smothering the singers at times.

    At this point in my review I've only listened to the first 15 minutes but I'd say that it is likely that I'll share the concerns about the orchestral performance and conducting. This is strangely the second recording involving the usually excellent Wiener Philharmoniker that I review in an interval of a few days, and both had orchestral issues, with a Don Giovanni from Salzburg as well (see the Mozart review thread) showing striking synchrony and dynamic problems. What is going on with this orchestra that has been traditionally considered to be one of the top three in the world (with the Royal Concertgebouw and the Berlin Philharmoniker)??? This is weird. Well, likely, it is the fault of the conductors.

    OK, regardless of orchestral boo-boos, the singing is very promising, indeed. First of all, I like our upcoming interviewee quite a lot, with a full and strong delivery from the very beginning (as Marcello sings the opening line). The always spectacular Piotr Beczala looks very handsome with some facial hair and wild hair. Anna as usual is very beautiful (here with a goth outfit complete with a touch of blue hair) and sings this role with her habitual mastery (we are used to incredibly good performances by La Bellissima as Mimě).

    We get to 'Che gelida manina' and to my surprise, I don't like it. Piotr who is always so good, here seems a bit unfocused and inattentive, with little work on the phrasing, and at times, gasp, even going a bit off-pitch in the top region of the register, especially in the first part of the aria (maybe he seems to realize that it wasn't a good attack, as things do improve in the second part). And yes, the orchestra is too slow here.

    No such issues with Anna's 'Mi chiamano Mimě' - as compared to past performances, what we hear is a darker voice that makes the aria even more compelling, and her diction in Italian has improved overtime. When she gets to the lines 'ma quando vien lo sgelo, il primo sole č mio, il primo bacio dell'aprile č mio!' - the most beautiful moment in this aria, for me - I melt!

    Stage direction here makes of this moment a sad, dramatic one, rather than a dreamy, hopeful one in other productions, and I confess that it is sort of off, in terms of Puccini's music for this part. Anna's acting, maybe suffering from this discrepancy, is much less accomplished than in her film with Villazón.

    Piotr does better in 'O soave fanciulla' - but yes, the orchestra starts the accompaniment too loudly, although they do correct the dynamics and play more delicately after a few bars.

    End of act I - disappointing so far. The magic is not there; the singers seem ambivalent in their acting, and the orchestra is indeed sort of off. By the way, sound balance and mike capture are not good. We lose the singers, sometimes, depending on their position on stage.

    Act II opens with a colorful crowd in front of a huge map of Paris and models of Parisian buildings. No Café Momus, which is a bit weird, but I do like the sets quite a lot: they are much more successful than the bleak, trash-filed stage in Act I.

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    The three Italian singers continue to do very well in this scene. Anna looks nice with a pink hat. We get an acrobat dressed as a superhero (hm... OK...).

    Nino Machaidze makes her entrance and she looks positively stunning. Eye candy for the boys! Her singing is as good as in her Roméo et Juliette DVD I was so impressed with (great 'Quando men vo'). I really regret that I haven't had an opportunity to see Nino live (I should have traveled to LA for her recent Traviata).

    Nino steals the ensemble scene ('Ah! Che cč?... Caro! Fuori il danaro!'), and I'm pleased to see that our Massimo also delivers big. Act II is very much better than act I in this production.

    Act III sets have a sandwich trailer and a bleak snowy road. The scene is well acted and sung by Anna and Massimo, and Piotr joins them and does much better than in his Act I. La Bellissima does a superb 'Addio').

    Act IV again uses trash as props. Singing becomes quite spectacular accross the board, with Piotr finally seeming to engage and to polish his phrasing. Anna is phenomenal in the final scene, and so are all artists. The last image is actually quite striking and a brilliant directorial touch. I won't comment on it here, not to spoil its impact.

    Time for the rating. Pros include Anna, Nino, and our Massimo who all three do very well (Piotr has ups and downs), and the comprimarios hold their own very nicely. Two of the four acts were interestingly staged and there are nice touches like the last image. Cons include conducting with irregular pace and orchestra with dynamic problems, technical recording issues (poor sound balance and the occasional faulty mike capture), and two acts with staging a bit too trashy for me (and no, I'm not worried about the update; it just could have been done a bit more tastefully).

    Overall, B-, recommended only for the singing (and mind you, this disc does contain mighty good singing) in spite of some - brief - moments of directorial and set design brilliance - but it is not a very successful production, all things considered. It is better heard than seen.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); October 10th, 2014 at 08:47 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  13. #55
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    In place of the offensive Eurotrash sobriquet, perhaps we should refer to such productions as Regietrash. It accurately describes them.

  14. #56
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    I agree; what was originally a European phenomenon has crossed the pond and is well entrenched here.

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  16. #57
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    In place of the offensive Eurotrash sobriquet, perhaps we should refer to such productions as Regietrash. It accurately describes them.
    Hehe, I like it.
    We'd have to also talk about Regieblood, Regienudity, Regieobligatoryanachronism, and so forth.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  17. #58
    Senior Member Involved Member Nervous Gentleman's Avatar
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    In response to Almaviva's review of the "Le Villi" DVD on page 1 of this thread:

    Ai-yi-yi. I just watched this production for the first time. Correction: I've watched exactly half of it. That's all I could take for the present.
    I was most interested in reading opinions of the soprano. You said just about all that needs to be said: absolutely dreadful, real wobbly and her pitch was atrocious. Mind you, I had just listened to the classic 1954 Cetra recording with the breathtakingly beautiful singing of Elisabetta Fusco,



    so maybe I'm being unduly harsh (but I don't think so). Halla Margret actually succeeded in transforming that gorgeous opening aria into something well nigh unlistenable. This is probably the only instance I can remember in which the tinnitus from which I suffer was actually preferable to what I was listening to. Another distraction that you didn't mention in your review of several years ago was that she looked sickly, indeed anorexic (that is, when her character is still very much alive). I actually thought to make certain that the singer had not been battling cancer or some other dreadful illness, before I put my foot into it and posted anything critical. Can't find anything to suggest that she was. The poor woman was thinner than the ballet dancers, only without their look of healthy vigor. The choreography, by the way, was the production's saving grace (certainly much better than the rather aimless and endless dancing exhibited in an amateur production from 2012 posted in its entirety to YouTube). All that said, I love this short opera, along with the original short story by Alphonse Karr on which it is based (and which can be found at archive.org).

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  19. #59
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Clayton's Avatar
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    Hey NG! Don't be a stranger for too long!

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  21. #60
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Incredible, La Fanciulla del West was never reviewed here. I'm re-watching it in anticipation of Opera Carolina's production about to start, over the next two weeks.



    La Fanciulla del West, opera in three acts, sung in Italian, on DVD
    Music by Giacomo Puccini
    Libretto by G. Civinini and C. Zangarini, after the play The Girl of the Golden West by David Belasco
    Premiere at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City on Decembeer 10, 1910

    Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro alla Scala
    Conductor - Lorin Maazel
    Stage Director - Jonathan Miller
    Set Design - Stefanos Lazaridis
    Costumes - Sue Blane
    Lighting - Vannio Vanni

    Cast

    Minnie - Mara Zampieri
    Jack Rance - Juan Pons
    Dick Johnson (Ramerrez) - Plácido Domingo
    Nick - Sergio Bertocchi
    Ashby - Luigi Roni
    Billy Jackrabbit - Aldo Bramante
    Wowkle - Nella Verri
    Jake Wallace - Marco Chingari
    José Castro - Claudio Giombi
    Sonora - Antonio Salvadori
    (and several miners)

    Recorded live in 1991 at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Italy
    DVD released by Opus Arte in 2004
    NTSC 16/9 anamorphic, standard definition
    Sound DD 2.0 only
    Subtitles - English only (optional)
    Running time 144 minutes, no extras
    Insert - Credits only, synopsis, the full libretto in Italian, no translation. No production pictures; the back cover of the insert has the poster for the performance of January 31, 1991.
    Available on Amazon for the bargain price of $14, Prime shipping [clicky]

    This is one of Puccini's hardest-to-please operas for the general public given its written-through score with little in the realm of Puccini-like melodies. It is a precursor to modern and contemporary operas that are heavy in recitative and drama more than in singable arias. The score is beautiful, though, and like is often the case in operas by Puccini, illustrates well the plot, with a cinematic quality. Even though this Italian vision of the American Wild West is a bit off and stereotypical (in spite of being based on an American source - for example the broken Italian when the two Native American characters are speaking is a bit hilarious), there is good storytelling and pace. Overall it is a good opera and it deserves more popularity.

    It is not particularly easy to stage, given that the role of Minnie is difficult with spinto/dramatic qualities and long stage presence; it also takes a very numerous ensemble of singers.

    This production by Miller at La Scala has merits. For one thing, we can actually see the stage, yay! La Scala has a penchant for dark lighting and here we do get some brighter scenes. The production is straightforward, which means that it doesn't get in the way. Sets are large and functional although not especially charming (act I looks more like an industrial space than a saloon), and no-frills costumes are appropriate for the setting. Blocking is handled well. In other words, the physical production is fine without being brilliant. The opera is filmed well with a good mix of close-ups and stage-wide takes.

    The chorus and the orchestra do very well, with secure conducting by Maazel.

    Plácido Domingo is in excellent voice in this, at peak in his career. He is without doubt the strongest point of this DVD. The problem is our Minnie. Mara Zampieri's voice is just not pleasant, and she tends to scream the high notes, at times getting off-key. She does act the role reasonably but looks miscast as well, giving a matronly impression that doesn't really match the character. To complete the trio of principal singers, Juan Pons, I'm usually not a fan, but here he is very vocally correct and does express some colors with his voice, in spite of non-nuanced acting. Comprimarios are generally vocally good but a bit stiff in their acting.

    The DVD employs dated technology with standard definition and stereo-only sound, but nothing horrible. Subtitles in English only are annoying for those who like to follow the original language but fortunately the Italian libretto comes fully printed in the insert, a rarity these days. One laments the absence of a track list, and the lack of essays commenting upon the production.

    All in all, this product is recommended for Domingo's singing, for the good orchestra, chorus, and conducting, and the non-obtrusive production, in spite of the title character's flaws. For this bargain price of $14, there isn't much to risk anyway.

    Now there is a blu-ray disc of this opera, recorded in 2013 with Nina Stemme and Jonas Kaufmann, from the Vienna State Opera. I haven't seen it. I hope someone else here will publish a review of it.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); April 16th, 2017 at 07:01 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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