PDA

View Full Version : Operas by Donizetti on DVD/Blu-ray/CD



HarpsichordConcerto
December 19th, 2011, 03:57 AM
http://cdn.naxos.com/SharedFiles/images/cds/others/2.110616-17.gif

Marino Faliero (1835 edition), tragic opera in three acts. (Teatro Donizetti, Bergamo; Italy, October/November 2008).

Rossini commissioned both Bellini and Donizetti for an opera each. Bellini wrote I Puritani, while Donizetti wrote Marino Faliero; his fiftieth opera, and both works premiered in the same 1835 season. I Puritani proved more successful, easily overshadowing Marino Faliero. Not to be outdone, Donizetti wrote his next masterpiece, Lucia di Lammermoor. So, with this prestigious history of two famous operas sandwiching Marino Faliero, what could one expect?

A very fine opera, indeed. Based on the real story of an old 14th century Doge of Venice who eventually got beheaded for political reasons, with love and jealousy thrown in between. Well sung and performed by artists who were not big names, although Elena (the Doge’s wife) sung by Rachele Stanisci gave too much vibrato in all arias than I felt comfortable for a tragic character who needed more sensitivity. The staging was effective: costumes were period-ish, and the staging was sensibly modern by effective use of materials and lighting that portrayed what was intended without leaving any puzzling guesswork by the listener. A simple and very useful booklet accompanied the double disc by way of synopsis for every single track. A nice one to add to your Donizetti collection.

HarpsichordConcerto
December 19th, 2011, 03:59 AM
Maria Stuarda (1834/1835)

A nice opera with good arias and duets throughout, and there are several versions on DVD/Blu-ray. This one was performed outdoors on a massive stage in August 2007. Competently sang by the leaders, with controlled vibrato from Laura Polverelli (Elisabetta). I tend to prefer Italian singers taking Italian roles because the accent sounds authentic. Costumes were often period-ish, with minimal props on the stage and effective enough.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71jpqPfUhZL._AA1231_.jpg

science
December 19th, 2011, 07:02 AM
What is the DVD choice for Lucia di Lammermoor?

Aramis
December 19th, 2011, 10:59 AM
What is the DVD choice for Lucia di Lammermoor?

I don't think anyone would come out with this proposition as most obvious choices are probably Sutherland or more recent Netrebko DVDs, but there is also top-notch cast recording with Carreras, Ricciarelli and Lucci to be purchased in this store:

http://www.belcantosociety.org/store/product_info.php?products_id=381

Here is final aria from this DVD:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mz8tRioI4JY

Dark_Angel
December 19th, 2011, 02:46 PM
Maria Stuarda (1834/1835)

A nice opera with good arias and duets throughout, and there are several versions on DVD/Blu-ray. This one was performed outdoors on a massive stage in August 2007. Competently sang by the leaders, with controlled vibrato from Laura Polverelli (Elisabetta). I tend to prefer Italian singers taking Italian roles because the accent sounds authentic. Costumes were often period-ish, with minimal props on the stage and effective enough.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71jpqPfUhZL._AA1231_.jpg

This same great Pizzi production is available with even better singers, AC Antonacci and Mariella Devia, Antonacci is amazing here! Highly recommended...........

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

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 10:27 PM
Donizetti: Roberto Devereux on DVD
I'm recovering this from an old review I wrote for another site:

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

Bergamo Music Festival 2006.

Composer: Donizetti, Gaetano
Libretto/Text Author: Cammarano, Salvatore
Libretto Source: Ancelot, Jacques-Francois
Conductor: Rota, Marcello
Orchestra: Bergamo Musica Festival Orchestra
Chorus: Bergamo Musica Festival Chorus
Chorus Master: Casati, Corrado

Elizabeth: Theodossiou, Dimitra
Lord Cecil: Albani, Luigi
Robert Devereux: Pisapia, Massimiliano
Sara: Bragaglia, Federica
Sir Walter Raleigh: Valerio, Giorgio
The Duke of Nottingham: Schroeder, Andrew

Massimiliano Pisapia was simply excellent, and I had never heard of this guy before! Federica Bragaglia looked the part (attractive, pretty) and sang decently. The Queen was excellent (Dimitra Theodossiou) although a little shrill at times - but it adds to the characterization of her role as evil. Good traditional staging.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/514HUU7uz3L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

But of course the big star of the show is Donizetti himself, because his vocal music is incredibly beautiful.

So, what follows is about the opera rather than about the above production:

Overture - short and to the point, pleasant.

Outstanding first aria by Sara. Wow. This will be very good.

Down to the second aria, Queen Elizabeth I's first. OK, the queen can sing!!!
Spectacular. So far, 13 minutes of pure magic. It starts already on an A++ mode. Oh boy, I'm in for a treat!!! Pause to refill wine glass, bread and dipping oil.

Second queen aria. She continues to impress. What is it, an endless series of gorgeous bel canto arias? No signs of slowing down, each one is better than the previous one.

Duet between the Regina and the conte di Essex. Nascondi, frena i palpiti, o misero mio core. Simply sublime. A+++

The Duke of Nottingham gets his baritone aria. Good. Beautiful. Less spectacular than his female predecessors. A.

End of Act I. Flawless. Perfect.

Act II opens with a long series of duets between Roberto and Sara, again, each one more beautiful than the last one.

This is such a melodious opera!

At this point, the streaming site I was watching it from, crashed. I was able to finish watching it one day later, but this time did not engage in detailed scoring, and just said this:

Spectacular, A+, and easily made it into one of my favorites. This is one that I'll be listening to over and over, once I buy a good recording.
Chilling dramatic finale, Quel sangue versato al cielo s'innalza.
Excellent from beginning to end, an impressive array of melodious arias.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 10:28 PM
Donizetti: Don Gregorio on DVD
Conductor Stefano Montanari - 2007(LC)

Orchestra - Bergamo Musica Festival Gaetano Donizetti

Chorus - Bergamo Musica Festival Gaetano Donizetti

Marchese Don Giulio Antiquati - Giorgio Valerio

Marchese Enrico - Giorgio Trucco

Madama Gilda Tallemanni - Elizaveta Martirosyan

Marchese Pippetto - Livio Scarpellini

Gregorio Cordebono - Paolo Bordogna

Leonarda - Alessandra Fratelli

Simone - Luca Ludovici


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

DVD (Video) - Dynamic 33579 (2008)

Recorded at performances at the Bergamo Musica Festival (2-4 November 2007).

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

I'm watching this obscure Donizetti, which has deserved only *one* recording - this one, on DVD (there is no audio recording either). This is an oddball. First of all, Donizetti re-wrote this for the Neapolitan stage (it was originally called L'ajo nell'imbarazzo, and was a real opera buffa, with recitatives. Then four years later Donizetti got an offer to stage it in Naples, but with a caveat - he had to make it basically an operetta (or more precisely, a melodramma giocoso), replacing the recitatives with spoken dialogue with no orchestral accompaniment whatsoever, and also, he had to translate the standard Italian libretto into the Neapolitan dialect so that the public would get it.

Watching a Donizetti opera with long periods of silence from the orchestra is somewhat strange, and breaks down the continuity of the music. Hey, when a composer aims from the beginning for an operetta or singspiel or opéra comique with spoken dialogue, that's one thing - this is taken into consideration in terms of linking the parts and building up dramatic tension or comic effect. But when you get a full blown opera and break it down, keeping just the arias and ensembles, and submitting the orchestra to long silences, I'm not sure if I like the result. One gets the feeling that something is missing... and it is: the recitatives!

Then, there is the matter of the production. Of course, the "smart" Regie had to come up with the obligatory (these days) update - here, to the 1920's. This is becoming so prevalent - apparently there is a new rule in the operatic direction textbook establishing that an opera must be updated to ANY point in time except, God forbid, to the period picked by the composer and the librettist - that in the VERY rare occasions when the director doesn't do this, we get a comment like one that I read in another Internet venue, referring to the appropriately non-updated staging of L'Elisir d'Amore (the one with Netrebko and Villazón) as "antiquated." I respect the opinion of the person who issued this adjective; he/she is certainly entitled to his/her opinion - I'm just bringing attention to the fact that the world of opera seems to have gone berserk - why is it "antiquated" to stage an opera in the intended period picked by the authors of the work?

Anyway, pardon the digression, let's go back to the Regie - not content with merely updating the opera, well, he had to also inject his own big ego into this production, by making of Don Gregorio on occasion a drag queen with feathers! The point of this is totally lost on me.

Scenarios are bland, monotonous, grey.

Technical quality: very good. Widescreen, multiple subtitles, linear PCM or Dolby 5.1, good sharp image, good sound balance. It comes in two DVDs in spite of the fact that this opera is not too long, so, they didn't try to do it on the cheap and did include the uncompressed sound.

Singing - obscure cast of mostly local Italian singers at the Bergamo festival, and the males do a fair job, without any fireworks, but without any major failures either. The two females are a lot weaker. It is hard to enjoy belcanto when the canto is not bello. Elizaveta Martirosyan (Armenian?) is a disaster. She doesn't look so good either, although she's got nice legs. She is also the weakest link in terms of acting. One keeps longing for a more talented singer who could have brought lots of charm to this role.

The title role is well sung and well acted by Paolo Bordogna.

The best moments of this work are those when Donizetti is allowed to show us his music (that is, NOT those moments when the orchestra is silent while the singers engage in unfunny slapstick with feathers). But like I said, the whole thing lacks unity.
I'm afraid that this is the first work by Donizetti that I don't like.

One wonders what are the priorities of the music industry - why exactly this revival of an obscure opera should be released on a relatively well produced DVD (technically speaking), expensive to boot ($45) - who exactly will be buying this? - while spectacular, brilliant works like the Met production of La Damnation de Faust directed by Lepage can't find their way to DVD? Sure, different companies, Dynamic specializes in more obscure works, but still, if *this* can sell, why can't La Damnation de Faust?

Not recommended.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 10:29 PM
Donizetti: Rita ou Le Mari Battu on DVD
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41nNVARDaAL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Rita ou Le Mari Battu (opéra-comique) by Gaetano Donizetti. Libretto originally in French by Gustave Vaéz. Premičre in Paris at Opéra-Comique, May 7, 1860.

2010(LI) - Francesco Ledda - Orchestra del Teatro Bellini di Adrano - sung in Italian

Rita - Paola Quagliata (coloratura soprano)
Beppe - Carlo Giacchetta (lyric tenor)
Gasparo - Carlo Torriani (bass)

Kicco Classic DVD KCOU9019, audio stereo, 16/9 NTSC, subtitles in Italian, English, French, and Spanish. Running time 60 minutes. Released in 2011

----------

This is a rather forgotten operetta from Donizetti, in one act. No surprises in terms of arias or melody, just your usual Bel Canto fare with spoken dialogue and some fast duos and trios. It is light and funny. The plot is the following:

Rita is a Russian immigrant in Sicily. She was married to Sicilian sailor Gasparo who used to beat her up, then there was a naufrage and she thought that he had died. Her house in Russia caught fire and burned to the ground, prompting her to leave Russia and go to Italy where she remarried another Sicilian, Beppe, and together they managed a small hotel. Afraid that the second husband would beat her up as well, she decides to be more assertive and beats *him* up regularly. We learn about all of this later, and the opera opens at this point in time, with Rita ordering her new husband around and slapping him silly. Then Gasparo shows up, having survived the naufrage, and having assumed that his wife had died in the fire. He is looking for her death certificate in order to remarry a rich Canadian woman [Alma's note - why look for the death certificate in Sicily rather than in Russia???]. He wants to spend the night in Beppe's hotel, and notices that Beppe has a red face from his wife slapping him. Gasparo tells Beppe that he needs to treat his wife "ŕ la Russa" (the Russian way): beating her up lightly and regularly, but without ever knocking her out. It's the best for love, he says. Rita comes back on stage, finds Gasparo and thinks that he looks like the twin brother of her late husband, but attributes it to a coincidence since she is pretty sure he is dead. He does recognize her and gets upset at her being alive which will hinder his plans of marrying the rich Canadian. Rita exits, and Beppe discovers the guest's identity from his passport, and is very happy: this is the golden opportunity to get rid of his abusive wife. Gasparo however threatens to flee, and the two engage in a series of games to decide who will keep Rita - the winner will, but neither one wants her, and both try hard to lose the games. Finally Gasparo to his deep despair is the one who ends up with the 'prize.' Rita comes back and this time does acknowledge that Gasparo is indeed her first husband. She reveals that with the house burning down, all documents were lost except their marriage certificate. Gasparo wants the document to destroy it, so that there would be no proof that they were ever married [the Russians don't keep these in their city halls???]. He tries to seduce Rita to get the document, to no avail. She wants no part of him back. [So, why not simply agree with destroying the document???]. He then pretends to have been injured during the naufrage and be crippled therefore he won't be able to beat her up. She then embraces him and gives him the certificate. [Huh?!?!?]. He says he'll destroy it and go back to Canada. Suddenly Beppe and Rita remember that they do love each other [huh?!??!?] and fall into each other's arms, and let Gasparo go back to Canada, not before advising Beppe again to be more assertive and beat Rita up from time to time. Rita however says that the domestic violence should end for good, and all rejoyce. Curtain.

OK, like many operas, the plot is preposterous and with holes bigger than craters in the moon.

But it is all light fun, and effective. Nothing extraordinary, but a good and pleasant little operetta. 7/10.

The production: bare bones DVD with not even a list of chapters, just a synopsis in four languages. No extras. No choice of sound track. The sound is decent except that the balance in rare moments allows the orchestra to smother the singers (it only happens a couple of times). The image is sharp, and widescreen. Video direction changes camera too often which is a little dizzying. 7/10

Orchestra and conductor are unremarkable but don't get in the way. 8/10

Staging is decent - a tacky hotel lobby, and some anachronisms and changes to the libretto which is something I don't necessarily approve of, although they do add some comic effects (songs like Volare and La Vie en Rose make brief appearances; Commander Jacques Cousteau is mentioned, and there is a cell phone call). 8/10

Acting is very good and convincing, in a slapstick comedy kind of way. Paola Quagliata is a good looking woman with a beautiful smile and a hot body. The two husbands are appropriately ridiculous-looking, for more comic effect (contrary to general tendency, here the bass looks even worse than the tenor, so, no eye candy for the ladies). 9/10

Singing is stellar and the strongest point of this production. Paola has a very beautiful and agile voice, and executes the coloraturas with perfection. One wonders why she's not been seen in other productions. She can sing, act, and looks good (the cover picture doesn't do her justice, here are three more).
http://www.fondazionepergolesispontini.com/italiano/images/stories/stagioni/lirica/curriculum_vitae/paola_quagliata.jpg
http://www.ribaltalucestudio.it/mim/img/2011/paola-quagliata-cantante.jpg
http://graph.facebook.com/1222524546/picture?type=large
Carlo the tenor does as well as Flórez in this repertory, including a rapid sequence of high C's perfectly executed, which reminds me of Pour mon âme. Carlo the bass is less good than the other two but doesn't sink the ship at all. Singing: 9/10

Overal, 8/10. Recommended.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 10:30 PM
Donizetti: La Favorita on DVD
OK, folks, this is it, again. This is opera.

Some cognoscenti will tell you that La Favorite(a) is Donizetti's best opera. While I don't entirely agree (I'd say Roberto Devereux is more melodious, and L'Elisir d'Amore is more fun), this is one darn good opera.

So here I am today, Friday evening; the wife is asleep, we have watched the delayed tape of the Royal Wedding on TV together, and then she went to bed and left me alone with my second passion - after her; she is my absolute first passion; my beloved wife, and she does share my second one with me as well, but not as much: opera.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51S4ViYeH4L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

As I'm watching this, I'm a little depressed. I'm questioning the operatic path I've taken - going for the visual media, believing in the "entire work of art" concept, rather than going for the best vinyl/CD recordings.

Because, see, great opera requires great singing. And with the overwhelming new media - YouTube, DVD's, blu-rays - we got plenty of images, but I'd say that the singing is not entirely there.

Case in point, this DVD.

This is a perfomance recorded live in Tokyo in 1971. Forty years ago. The NHK Symphony Orchestra is exquisitely conducted by Oliviero de Fabritiis.

Fernando is Alfredo Krauss. Leonora is Fiorenza Cossotto. Baldassarre is Ruggero Raimondi. Alfonso XI is Sesto Bruscantini. The minor roles of Don Gasparo and Ines are respectively sung by Augusto Pedroni and Marisa Zotti.

Technical quality of this DVD: appaling. It is, frankly, worse than many non-professional DVD's I've seen. Grainy image, primitive camera work, and a damn prompter who can be heard out loud in many essential moments. Oh God, this is so annoying!! This 40-years-old product seems as bad as any home movie I've recorded with a shaky hand-held camera on the occasion of my kids' birthday parties.

But then, like I said, great opera requires great singing.

Alfred Kraus delivers one of the most impressive tenor performances I've ever seen/heard in my entire life.

Oh! My! God!

I've seen this guy many times on YouTube videos, mostly past his prime. I've heard many recordings with him, some good, some bad after wear and tear got him.

But I had never seen Alfred Kraus at the very peak of his ability, in full control of his artistry, in his absolutely top prime time, singing like God's gift to humankind. You have it all right here, folks, on this La Favorita DVD.

This is amazing. Incredible. Extraordinary.

This DVD couldn't be more faulty. Every single technical aspect is a disaster. Many of the other singers are mediocre at best. I don't like Fiorenza Cossotto in this production at all. Marisa Zotti as Ines is painfully weak.

And yet... and yet...

You have three male singers - Alfred Kraus, the tenor, in the role of Fernando. Sesto Bruscantini the baritone as Alfonso XI. Ruggero Raimondi the bass as Baldassarre.

They are all three simply spectacular. You guys need to see it to believe it.

This is sublime singing. We don't see this kind of thing these days. We have to travel back in time 40 years to get to this level of expertise.

Alfred Kraus has me in tears. Listening to his PERFECT delivery of every single damn note is an orgasmic experience, and in itself justifies the fact that this otherwise very faulty DVD should be an obligatory item in any serious opera lover's collection.

Not to forget that Donizetti's opera in itself is fabulous.

Highly recommended. For Donizetti's incredible score and vocal writing. For Ruggero Raimondi's Baldassarre. And over everything else, for Alfred Kraus' Fernando, a performance for the ages.

Bravo. Bravo. Bravo. Bravo.

And thank you for reminding me that great opera takes a great composer like Donizetti, and a great tenor like Kraus.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 10:31 PM
Donizetti: Anna Bolena on DVD
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51pw4fwwqTL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

This is an old VAI release, but still widely available commercially. It's from a live 1984 recording in Toronto, with Richard Bonynge conducting the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, and a star-studded cast lead by Dame Joan Sutherland in the role of Anne Boleyn, but also with other great singers such as James Morris as Henry VIII, Judith Forst as Jayne Seymor, and Ben Heppner as Hervey. Michael Myers as Lord Percy, Janet Stubbs as Smenton and Gidon Saks as Lord Rochefort complete the strong cast. The Italian libretto is by Felice Romani.

Technically speaking this product is pretty dismal, with dark grainy 1.33:1 image with fading colors, and no choice of sound track, which is provided according to Amazon in Dolby Digital 2.0 (the DVD cover and insert don't say anything about the sound track) but it must have been remastered from a mono analog source because it is not good at all and I don't hear any stereo effects. Other than the lack of clarity and distortions, the balance is pretty bad and heavily favors the singers over the orchestra, which can be barely heard at times.

The poor overall quality of this historical recording is not helped by the bare-bones packaging with no liner notes beyond a rather incomplete list of chapters that doesn't even list all the arias. The funny thing is that they take us all for novices, because they almost don't give us any information but make sure to let us know that "because the libretto is in Italian, Anne Boleyn is called Anna Bolena and Henry VIII is called Enrico." Oh gee, thanks, VAI! I'd be so confused without this valuable piece of information! http://operalively.com/forums/images/smilies/rolleyes.gif

There is no synopsis but one scrolls down the screen during the overture. Subtitles are only available in English, and they are obligatory, big, and intrusive. No extras. Running time 157 minutes. In spite of the spare packaging, this thing sells for $36 on Amazon.com, before shipping. Expensive for such a primitive product.

Lotfi Mansouri's staging is traditional (more traditional than this, impossible) and rather lavish with very elaborate period costumes (one hopes one could see a bit more, given the very dark picture).

This is where the bad news end, because as expected Dame Sutherland in spite of her advanced age here is still spectacular in a role that suits her perfectly, and her partners are not too shabby either.http://operalively.com/forums/images/smilies/wink.gif It is cool to see Heppner in a small role before he got famous, and Forst is very impressive. Morris on the other hand seems miscast in this repertoire, and he tends to be too loud, without the delicacy of phrasing and subtle emotions that are required of a belcanto singer. This is not Wagner, sir! In his duet with Forst in Act I scene 2 this is painfully apparent, since she does what is required, but he doesn't, so we get a weird mix of belcanto mezzo-soprano with Wagnerian bass-baritone. Michael Myers as Percy is very good, and so is Janet Stubbs.

Anna's and Giovanna's famous duet in Act III Scene 2 is a thing of beauty, very special in Sutherland's and Forst's voices.

Dame Sutherland does transpose down the end of the opera, suffering from vocal fatigue at that point. One forgives her for it. She was 58 years old at the time of this performance. Ten years earlier she didn't need to do this. I still prefer Berverly Sills' 1972 recording of this role (I mean, until October when I'll attend my Anna's live performance at the Methttp://operalively.com/forums/images/smilies/biggrin.gif) although I've never heard Callas 1957 recording, but in spite of (at the time of recording) serious competition from the younger voices of two other formidable sopranos, one still needs to respect Dame Sutherland.

Helping La Stupenda and the other excellent singers are Donizetti's sublime and melodious music and the strong dramatic qualities of this work, one of his Tudor Queens operas, premiered in 1830. It's the 35th opera in his prolific career, but it was still composed way before his big hits. In certain ways, its mad scene is the predecessor to its more famous cousin in Lucia.

During the orchestral moments when the singers are not competing with the orchestra for the microphones and we can hear the musicians better, one likes Sutherland's husband Bonynge's solid interpretation of the score.

The bottom line is that in spite of the technical deficiency, a miscast Morris (who still does well, mind you), and an aging Sutherland, this is still pretty much obligatory in a serious opera lover's collection for its historical value and good/great singing: it's a worthy rendition of this superb opera, so I'll say "recommended."

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 10:32 PM
Donizetti: Linda di Chamounix on DVD
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/513JCHH28KL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Linda di Chamounix, melodrama semiserio in three acts, premiered in Vienna in 1842
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto by Gaetano Rossi, after Adolphe Phillipe Dennery and Gustave Lemoine

1996(LI) - Adam Fischer - Orchestra of the Zurich Opera House
Chorus of the Zurich Opera House, chorus master Jürg Hämmerli
Stage director Daniel Schmid
Stage design Erich Wonder
Video director Alf bernhard-Leonardi

Cast

Linda - Edita Gruberová
Carlo, Visconti di Sirval - Deon van der Walt
Il Marchese di Boisfleury - Jacob Will
Il Prefetto - László Polgár
Antonio, padre di Linda - Armando Ariostini
Maddalena, madre di Linda - Nadine Asher
Pierotto - Cornelia Kallisch
L'Intendente - Miroslav Christoff

This is a 2003 TDK release with a running time of 164 minutes
Picture format 4:3, region code zero, sound tracks LPCM, DD 5.1, DTS 5.1
Optional subtitles in original Italian, English, French, and Spanish (curiously, no German - in spite of narration of the synopsis in German and credits in German)
2 DVDs - curiously the stamp doesn't say which one is disc 1, which one is disc 2 (except in the very tiny print of the catalog number - one number ends in 1, the other in 2, voilŕ!)
Liner notes contain a brief essay, the synopsis, and complete chapter/aria list with characters and duration

The opera is set to 1760, in the French Alpes village of Chamounix, Savoy, then in Paris for the second act, then back to the Alpes for the last act. Musically it is considered to be very good and was very well received at the time, then was forgotten until the revival of Belcanto. The subject matter includes a degenerate marquis who tries to seduce a farmer girl. His nephew who is disguised as a painter (Carlo) and living incognito in Linda's village (huh, same setup of Giordano's Marcella) falls in love with the girl, takes her to Paris, installs her in an apartment (platonic relationship). However his mother presses him to marry within his own class, Linda gets to know that he's about to marry another woman, goes mad (her stress is compounded by the fact that her father shows up in Paris too and thinks that she is living in sin). She is taken back to the village, Carlos escapes the grip of his family and goes back to the village to profess his love for her, she recovers, happy ending.

Donizetti had trouble with the censors who didn't want a nobleman to be depicted as a degenerate seducer, then the composer had to change the Marchese di Boisfleury's role to a buffo role, thus the melodrama semiserio classification for this opera.

This makes of this work a weird one. The comic elements with fast parlando seem completely divorced from the tragic belcanto aspects - because, well, they are... Donizetti had never intended to make of this a half-comedy to start with so this work has a sort of unity problem.

The first scene is marred by weak singing, and ugly staging. The attempt at a zany buffo ensemble featuring the Marchese, Linda's parents and villagers falls flat, is not funny, and the singing is rather full of shrieking. Period costumes, sparse staging with painted landscape (not good looking at all) and dark lighting. This doesn't look very promising.

Image is not great, and sound is OK, but with audience noise. Wait, actually, it is not OK. The surround effects on the DTS track are very poorly done and do not isolate the direction of voices (you can hear the singer from the left back speaker simultaneously with the front speakers, causing an unpleasant reverberation. I probably should switch to the LPCM track.

I learn from the liner notes that the stage director at Zurich Opera House - this snake pit of Regie productions (sorry, Zurich Opera fans) - has changed the setting (no more Paris) and the behavior of the characters, to make them "more aggressive or insane." Oh boy. I don't like the sound of this.

We get Edita in the next scene, and she sings very well - but absolutely doesn't look the part, as expected.

Then we have choral music - again the annoying reverberation - OK, wait a moment, I *will* switch the sound track. Done. Much better. Don't pick the DTS track, folks.

Cornelia comes in as Pierotto (trouser role, originally for contralto, here sung by a mezzo) and she sings beautifully. She's got a strange device with her, a sort of box with an alarm clock attached to it and some flashing yellow and red lights. Okaaayyy... it's supposed to be a hurdy-gurdy, but it's a Regie kind of hurdy-gurdy, LOL... the scenario changes to a veil with Kodak Film written on it... [Alma rolls his eyes]

The first genuinely beautiful moment comes up, when Pierotto sings the lachrymose aria Per sua madre andň una figlia. Regie or not, at least we have Donizetti to hold things up.

This is followed by the also beautiful tenor cabaletta Da quel dě che t'incontrai. Unfortunately Deon van der Walt is no J-Flo.

The mayor and Antonio have a long scene next, and the music is very good, although Armando Oriostini is not (wobbly bass-baritone). László Polgár however is much better (beautiful basso profondo).

Act I ends by a finale with everybody looking gloomy and desperate. Linda's mother is sung by another weak singer, but Edita and Cornelia do keep the interest going.

Summary of act I - appallingly ugly staging with some Regie touches, bad lighting, uneven singing, misplaced comic elements, but rather great Donizetti music.

Act 2, it looks like it *is* set in Paris after all. We get again the German narration of the synopsis. Those who don't like to read the synopsis ahead of time (spoilers) won't like this.

LOL, the Paris of the stage director is an empty platform with a sort of cardboard large model of a crooked narrow building. Again, ugly. Lighting remains dreadful. Edita continues to sing beautifully, oblivious to the shenanigans of the stage director and set designer. Apparently there will be a woman being paraded on a silver plate with her legs up at some point, and the sci-fi hurdy-gurdy will start to spit out snow. Great! What do these stage directors think they're adding to these works? Whatever. Let's continue to listen, like I said the music is good and we get Pierotto on stage again, great duo with Linda.

The scenario gets a background painting to make it look a little more like the interior of an apartment. Oh yeah, the woman with the legs up comes by. Ridiculous.

Act III - back to the Alpes. Very ugly looking glacier as a background painting.

By now I've lost interest in the far-fetched plot, and even more in the ugly, Regie staging.
The music remains good. Edita is supposed to do a good mad scene next.

But my conclusion about this DVD is done already, I won't continue to review part by part. Here is the verdict: not recommended. This staging doesn't add anything to the work, the singing is uneven, and I think that this musically beautiful (but theatrically weak) opera is likely to be best served by CD recordings. There are three good singers here, but they don't save the production.

Aksel
January 16th, 2012, 02:55 PM
Something of a rarity, this not too often performed Donizetti comedy does deserve a few more productions than it gets today.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51t1NvEM1mL.jpg
The opera, often named by its other title "Viva la mamma!" is about a rather mediocre opera troupe rehearsing a new opera seria, Romulus and Ersilia. The cast features, of course, the troupe's prima donna Daria Garbinati who is a gajillion times better than the troupe's seconda donna, Luiga Castragatti (the convenienze alluded to in the title were the rules relating to the ranking of singers (primo, secondo, comprimario) in 19th-century Italian opera, and the number of scenes, arias etc. that they were entitled to expect. (source (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convenienze))), who is of course infinitely more talented than the prima donna. Also present are the prima donna's husband Procolo who makes Don Ottavio look like Don Giovanni, a conductor, the librettist, the theatre director, an impresario and the primo tenore Guglielmo Antolstoinoff, who is German. Finally, there is Mamm'Agata, the mother of the seconda donna, who is utterly convinced that it is her daughter that should be singing the main part. Oh, and she's a baritone in drag. And breaks into Neapolitan at times. Unsurprisingly, hilarity ensues.

The music is unmistakably Donizetti, although one does get the feeling, especially in the first act, that more could have been made of the music. It's as if Donizetti was trying to write a Rossini comedy, or even a neapolitan farsa, and he doesn't get the music quite right. Instead of bubbling and fizzing where it should, like Mamm'Agata's 1st act aria, it kind of falls flat. But it does get a lot better as the opera progresses. The overture also occured to me as a little disjointed.
The second act, which allows for the insertion of arias by other composers (in this case an aria from Rossini's Aureliano in Palmira, Dies Bildnis from Zauberflöte and an aria from Donizetti's Fausta) I liked a lot better, especially the finale.
The secco recits, however are a joy to listen to, for a change.

Overall, the cast is very good, especially the male roles. They seem generally to come from the La Scala young apprentice program, and they do impress. As the Prima Donna, Jessica Pratt does a fine job, however, her vibrato is a tad to big for the more florid passages, but somehow she navigates her way through the big, show-stopping Rossini aria with bravura.
As the Seconda Donna, Aurora Tirotta, fares better, although her vibrato was also a tad too big..
Procolo, as sung by Simon Bailey vas very good, as was Christian Senn's conductor and Chae Jun Lin's librettist.
The best, by far, however, was the Mamm'Agata of Vincenzo Taormina. His singing was wonderful, as was his acting and stage presence. He never really went overboard in his acting, but he is still very convincing as the over-the-top stage mother he is portraying.

Gorgeous costumes and a somewhat strange set (it's set on a beach for some reason).

If you like meta-opera, this one's for you. If you also like highly melodious music with some very, very good bits tucked inbetween, this is also for you. Get it.

Oh, and it's on the youtubes:


[Link to video deleted by Admin - video no longer available]

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 16th, 2012, 03:06 PM
Very nice review, Aksel. As usual, your reviews are spot on.

HarpsichordConcerto
January 22nd, 2012, 07:11 AM
Don Gregorio (1826, based on Ajo nell'imbarazzo from 1824)

Giorgio Valerio (Marchese Don Giulio Antiquati), Giorgio Trucco (Marchese Enrico), Elizaveta Martirosyan (Madama Gilda Tallemanni), Livio Scarpellini (Marchese Pippetto), Paolo Bordogna (Gregorio Cordebono), Alessandra Fratelli (Leonarda) & Luca Ludovici (Simone). Orchestra and chorus of the Bergamo Musica Festival, Stefano Montanari (conductor) & Roberto Recchia (director), 2007.

Donizetti wrote Ajo nell'imbarazzo in 1824, and was one of his earliest successful operas in terms of how widely it became performed and known. Two years later in 1826, he set to work on a Neapolitan version of Ajo - Don Gregorio. Traditional recitative passages in Ajo were replaced by prose dialogue, the title role was translated into Neapolitan, with new numbers added and others deleted. Don Gregorio, a two act opera appeared very well received. Donizetti himself wrote: "... it met with a result that was more than felicitous. Every piece was warmly applauded, and I myself earned, it not money, at least plentiful honours".

Don Gregorio appears as one of those seldom heard/performed Donizetti operas. This production, despite a few quirks, was quite enjoyable overall. A mixture of modern colours, comical undertones (see cover of DVD) and generally well sung by all the leads. I liked most the very well pacing of the score by conductor Stefano Montanari (who is normally associated with his period instrument band, Accademia Bizantina), this time directing with lively energy, capturing much of the comical undertones. There are many arias featuring deuts, trios and more with strong Rossinian and even Mozartian flavours, several capturing applause of the audience after each number (for a relatively little known opera). The spoken dialogue offers a play-like feel of the production.

The booklet described this opera as "... of transition between Donizetti's late youth and the beginning of his maturity, at times sincerely new, at others old fashioned". An agreeable way of putting it.

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

Aramis
January 22nd, 2012, 09:21 PM
http://img1.takealot.com/covers/full/get/200905/2773730.jpg

Yes.

Two major characters are without any fault here. Gruberova's sublime, very womanish voice and galant, carefully shaded singing of Kraus gives us perhaps the best Lammermoor pair on recording. Some would put Caballe/Carreras above it, I'm sure, but I prefer those two, especially Gruberova over Caballe. Rest of cast is at least solid.

I can't help but compare Kraus - the teacher, with Filianoti - the student here, as I've watched the latter in Lucia two days ago (performance with Dessay and Viviani) - it helps me to appreciate Kraus even more. Filianoti screams like they would tear him apart, to the point of artificiality and banal, cliche expression while Kraus, och, well, I can't find proper words. He sings like he would read poetry, with most sublime nuances, he is expressive without rejecting pure musical beauty, his Tu che a Dio is best of all I've heard (and I'm not even sure if it goes for this one here or the one from other performance in this role). Must hear for lovers of Gateano.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 28th, 2012, 04:54 PM
I hated this DVD of Don Gregorio, which I reviewed here in this thread (post #7). I guess, like Soave_Fanciulla said, that I'm a bit conservative in terms of slapstick comedy. I tend to find it all not really funny.

Schigolch
April 1st, 2012, 09:22 PM
http://i.prs.to/t_200/bongiovanniab20021.jpg

Gregory Kunde
Paoletta Marrocu
Simone del Savio
Andrea Papi
Massimiliano Chiarolla

Orchestra and Chorus of the Festival Donizetti - Bérgamo
Marcello Rota, conductor
Marco Spada, stage director



Poliuto is a very good opera, one of Donizetti's best. Since the legendary Callas/Corelli performance at La Scala, there have been only a handful of recordings. Now we have this DVD from the Bergamo Festival.

The production is so-and-so, nothing really interesting, nor infuriating. The most attractive feature is of course Gregory Kunde, that is living a great moment, at this mature stage in his career. Yes, sometimes the voice is a little bit too hard, and sound tired, but we have all the notes, and in style. Paoletta Marrocu is a little bit over her means here, but is a decent performance. The baritone Simone del Savio is just correct, while Andrea Papi and Massimiliano Chiarolla are more than that, as well as the orchestra.

Overall: B-

HarpsichordConcerto
April 3rd, 2012, 11:37 AM
Poliuto is a very good opera, one of Donizetti's best. Since the legendary Callas/Corelli performance at La Scala, there have been only a handful of recordings. Now we have this DVD from the Bergamo Festival.


How was the DVD? Bongiovanni can be very hit and miss sometimes. It's the only DVD around it seems and also a relatively more recent recording.

Schigolch
April 3rd, 2012, 12:50 PM
You mean from a technical point of view?. Pretty average, and poor on extras.

Dark_Angel
April 15th, 2012, 03:55 AM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SRRen3vaL._SL500_AA300_.jpg http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51QCdu5NQVL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Comparing these two JDF performances.......
Everyone owns (or should own) the Dessay version, almost universally praised for good reason

I recently picked up the Ciofi version also and was treated to another great version. Some don't like the change of time period in this production to WWII France, I am nuetral about this and glad it is slightly different for variation sake since I own both. Ciofi is actually a bit better singer overall with a sweet pure high end that garnered several long ovations.....however I think Dessay has better inate comic acting ability so each version has a slightly different feel in acting style and visually different productions.

JDF is masterful in both versions both singing and acting the part, nothing held back here and the audience is thrilled. The reason I purchased this was to complete my JDF video collection and I can very highly recommend this version.....but if you can only own one start with the Dessay performance.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
April 15th, 2012, 04:50 AM
I only own the Ciofi but I've seen the Dessay in a friend's house. I agree entirely with what you said above.

Aramis
April 23rd, 2012, 11:43 AM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61B-E12ftWL._SS500_.jpg

This could be best Don Pasquale on CD. Nesterenko/Weikl duo is solid (though not nearly as naturally comical as we're used to from more recent Met performances), Araiza, being such refined light tenor as we know he is, gives all justice to Ernesto's part. But who really steals the show for me here is Lucia Popp. Luminous performance, I can imagine soprano more engaged into playing that nasty character (actually I don't have to, there's more than one recording with Netrebko) but in terms of beautiful singing, her level here is untouchable.

Dark_Angel
August 24th, 2012, 04:16 AM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/510qBA7W%2BKL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00000630V/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)
Divina Records has just released an essential live Callas 1955 Berlin Lucia di Lammermoor

Using same cast/conductor as the justly famous EMI Lucia above. Taken from BJR master tapes donated to them it abolutely crushes EMI release with great clear richly detailed sound quality, it is easily the greatest Lucia I have ever heard with Callas and Di Stefano in top form, you will never hear singing like this today......Callas is in full flight singing one of her signature roles, thank the opera gods we have such high quality recording now

As usual with Divina we get magnificent 84 page PDF digital booklet with original program and beautiful photos taken from the production, CD or MP3/Flac downloads avaialable

http://www.divinarecords.com/dvn019/dvn019.html

Vesteralen
December 24th, 2012, 03:45 PM
1413

I enjoyed this DVD. Nuccia Focile was wonderful. The plot is ridiculous beyond belief, but the singing and acting more than made up for it, IMO.

Yashin
December 26th, 2012, 08:28 AM
1418

This is far and away my favourite Don Pasquale. It is conducted by the wonderful Evelino Pido - i very much admired his L'Elisir a while ago. Simone Alaimo has a nice voice and is great at these Buffo roles. Patrizia Ciofi has strange facial movements when she sings but i like her acting skills and comedy. Then there is Norman Shankle - I have seen him in the Amsterdam Cosi fan Tutte released on DVD a few years back and he has a very pleasant timbre. He is no Florez, but i think it is better for it. The sets are set around a French Cafe and then a house of course - all done very tastefully.

I watch this quite often on long flights - i love the music and the performance and for that matter i don't think i need another. That did not stop me buying the Netrebko Met DVD and i did not like it at all. It felt like almost a completely different opera!!

MAuer
December 27th, 2012, 07:55 PM
Love this version of Lucia di Lammermoor with Ricciarelli and Carreras:

[Link to photo deleted by Admin - photo no longer available]

Ann Lander (sospiro)
December 27th, 2012, 08:29 PM
Love this version of Lucia di Lammermoor with Ricciarelli and Carreras:

[Link to photo deleted by Admin - photo no longer available]

:hifive:

I remember when we voted for our favourites (in another place) & I chose this version ahead of one with a certain Russian soprano, our beloved leader was not happy. :biggrin:

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 27th, 2012, 10:15 PM
I chose this version ahead of one with a certain Russian soprano, our beloved leader was not happy.

:fish4:

MAuer
December 28th, 2012, 07:48 PM
Speaking of our beloved leader, I'm surprised he hasn't mentioned this DVD:

http://c3.cduniverse.ws/resized/250x500/movie/893/8608893.jpg

La Bellissima and Elina Garanca are vocally and visually superb as Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour, each actually having some physical resemblance to the historical figure she portrays. Ildebrando D'Archangelo doesn't look a thing like the real Henry VIII, but he sings marvelously and has the right commanding presence for the monarch. I'm afraid I can't warm up to Francesco Meli's Percy (Stephen Costello at the Met was a little better), and Dan Paul Dumitrescu's Lord Rochefort looks more like Anne's father than her brother. Elisabeth Kulman is a delightful Smeaton.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 29th, 2012, 05:02 AM
Speaking of our beloved leader, I'm surprised he hasn't mentioned this DVD:

I did review this in great detail somewhere, comparing the live show at the Met which I've attended in person, to the DVD of the Viennese production with a different cast (and Elina), point by point. I remember giving the edge to the Viennese show over the Met's, and finding that Anna did a great job. I don't know where this post is; maybe I did it for that other place.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 27th, 2013, 12:04 AM
I was watching this again, this afternoon:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51vYkP8UH2L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Lucia di Lammermoor, dramma tragico in tre atti - Music by Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, after Sir Walter Scott's novel The Bride of Lammermoor

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Conductor, Marco Armiliato
Recorded live on 7 February 2009
Glass Armonica solo: Cecilia Brauer
Harp solo: Mariko Anraku
Flute solo: Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson

Production Mary Zimmerman
Set Design Daniel Ostling

Cast

Principal singers

Lord Enrico Ashton - Mariusz Kwiecien
Miss Lucia di Lammermoor - Anna Netrebko
Sir Edgardo di Ravenswood - Piotr Beczala
Raimondo Bidebent - Ildar Abdrazakov

Comprimarios

Lord Arturo Bucklaw - Colin Lee
Alisa - Michaela Martens
Normanno - Michael Myers

---------

DG release, on 2 DVDs, NTSC 16:9, region code zero, sound PCM stereo and DTS 5.1, extras "Backstage at the Met" featuring the Live in HD interviews with the principal singers, the conductor, the stage director, and some technical people, hosted by Natalie Dessay (17'). Opera running time 143'. Subtitles Italian (original language), German, English, French, Spanish, Chinese. Catalog # B0013573-09. Available [here (http://www.amazon.com/Donizetti-Lammermoor-Netrebko-Kwiecien-Metropolitan/dp/B002MEW7YY/)] on Amazon.com for $29.93

----------

I won't do a long, formal review. Watching this again is neat for me, after having interviewed three of the four principal singers (two in person, one by Skype videoconference). This DVD was the topic of long conversations in the past between yours truly and other members (as mentioned above by sospiro), motivated by my strong bias in favor of Anna Netrebko in this role, while the competition on DVD - Mariella Devia, Joan Sutherland, Katia Ricciarelli, Natalie Dessay, Renata Scotto, Anna Moffo, etc. - all have their proponents as a much better fit for the role. Well, OK, I'm particularly fond of Mariella Devia's vocal skills while singing Lucia. Sure. And Dame Joan Sutherland certainly can sing, and Natalie Dessay certainly can act. And if one goes to CDs, then of course there is Maria Callas. Yes, all true.

Still, I insist. This performance just blows me away, bias or not. I don't really understand those who say that Anna doesn't have the right coloratura skills, here. Yes, usually she doesn't; she isn't exactly a coloratura soprano, but here, she actually does it quite well in my humble opinion, and even trills when it's called for (although, confessedly, less well than some of her competitors). But even though I concede that agility is not Anna's best feature, the overall quality of her performance here is truly excellent. First of all, her timbre of voice is just so impossibly beautiful in the Mad Scene! When she matches her gorgeous voice to the glass armonica, it's out of this world. Her acting is very compelling, to the point of causing me goosebumps and teary eyes. And she looks very good in the bridal gown, in spite of the fact that she was coming right out of delivering her baby boy (this was her first performance after giving birth to Tiago Aruă). Not only Anna performs a devastatingly beautiful Mad Scene, but also her confrontation with her brother in Act 2 is extremely well acted and sung.

Other nice features of this DVD are the other three principal singers, all of whom perform to the highest standards. Actually Piotr Beczala draws more applause from the public than Anna, in the curtain calls, and deservedly so. Mariusz Kwiecien is just as excellent, and Ildar Abdrazakov is very sound and secure. Then, there is the fact that we *do* get a glass armonica, which is not always the case for Lucia DVDs. We get Marco Armiliato to say on camera what I believe as well to be true: that the Met orchestra is the best operatic orchestra in the world. Set design with that huge moon calling for madness, is very beautiful.

Technically speaking, the DVD is of good quality of image, and especially, sound. This is a very well balanced and rich sound track (contrasting with the other DVD I reviewed today of Rossini's Zelmira, which had all the qualities in the world, but a less than ideal sound track).

A few cons do exist: the comprimarios are way less interesting than the principal singers, making for a somewhat unbalanced vocal performance. Certainly many productions have uneven singing from the big stars versus the secondary roles, but in this particular production, we get a bigger gap - four extraordinary principal singers, and three rather pale comprimarios, so the contrast is a bit painful - which is atypical of the Met, a company that counts on a large roster and usually is able to put good comprimarios on stage. Much has been said about the annoying photographer, ruining the famous sextet. Yes, I also find it distracting and unnecessary. That's what happens when stage directors don't understand that the *music* is the driving force in this famous scene, and the music is dramatic enough, without any need for trying to make the scene any "better", theatrically (in this case, it clearly makes it worse, instead). Also, the backstage featurette is one of the weakest in recent years. Natalie Dessay, the host, doesn't seem to be able to engage with the interviewees, who all, with the exception of Mariusz Kwiecien, tend to reply to her questions in rather short, at times monosyllabic answers. Video direction, while generally good, could have focused on the glass armonica at least once. This instrument is rare enough in the operatic pit to justify at least one take. They do show the harp soloist, so, why not the glass armonica??? And I don't care for the long distance takes showing the entire house, and backstage fragments outside of the featurette; these kinds of shots ruin the immersion effect. Video direction for opera needs to forget about the house and the backstage while the opera is going on. I hate it when video directors make this mistake.

These cons prevent me from giving to this product the A++ or A+ grade, but the cons can't drop it down to B either, thanks to the excellent singing of the four principals and the great performance by the Met orchestra and its glass armonica, harp, and flute soloists, so I say A, recommended.

Dark_Angel
January 27th, 2013, 01:12 AM
Very high quality Lucia, I have every Netrebko opera video and really love her work and amber voice, but I am puzzled why DG does not offer a blu ray version as they usually do

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 27th, 2013, 03:40 AM
Very high quality Lucia, I have every Netrebko opera video and really love her work and amber voice, but I am puzzled why DG does not offer a blu ray version as they usually do

I love you, Dark_Angel!!!! :tiphat:

Yashin
January 27th, 2013, 02:11 PM
You got me watching the Met's Lucia too. Yes, the interviews with Natalie Dessay are painful. Either she is very nervous or totally jealous that she did not get the gig! Its all about her i am afraid!

Enjoying the production. Mary Zimmerman did a good job (and yes i like her La Sonnambula too!)

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 27th, 2013, 03:42 PM
You got me watching the Met's Lucia too. Yes, the interviews with Natalie Dessay are painful. Either she is very nervous or totally jealous that she did not get the gig! Its all about her i am afraid!

Enjoying the production. Mary Zimmerman did a good job (and yes i like her La Sonnambula too!)

I don't think it is nervousness. Natalie Dessay is a seasoned performer and a stage animal. I don't think she gets nervous after all those years dealing with the spotlight.

Natalie was featured in the very same production, but the Met chose to not release her performance on DVD, and went with Anna's instead. Maybe she was understandably a bit upset, because usually she is more camera-savvy in these occasions, so she was atypically cold and distant during the interviews, which then reflected on the unwillingness of the artists to get too engaged in their answers. From conducting interviews myself, I've learned that the interviewer's attitude is essential to get the artist going and motivated to issue compelling answers.

I liked Mary Zimmerman's staging, except for that awful photographer. One wants to yell at him, "stop interfering, we are here to focus on the gorgeous music, dammit!!!" - this is the kind of thing that happens when you get a theatrical director to direct opera. Sometimes they don't understand the specifics of the genre, and tend to insert their stage tricks at the wrong musical moment. This is clearly one such example. I wonder why, in a place like the Met, you don't get someone - such as James Levine, out of his authority as Musical Director, or the conductor for this show, in this case Marco Armiliato - to say to her, "Whoa, Mary, sorry, but you really, really, really can't do this. Come up with some other idea and by all means do it, but in some other scene; don't ruin the Sextet! It's just one of those things, musically speaking, that you can't mess with!"

I didn't see that La Sonnambula but I've heard many negative things about it.

On the other hand, her Armida (Rossini's) was pretty good. She also inserted a 'new' character there - a girl looking like Cupido - but that time, it worked. So, it's not that the stage director can't introduce some sort of concept, but it needs to be done with respect for the music, and in this case, she fell flat on her face by introducing a highly distracting element during the second most important musical moment of the opera. Because, see, her introduction of a ghost in two scenes, worked perfectly. But the photographer really didn't.

Wasn't there anybody in this entire organization with hundreds of years of operatic experience to advise her against it???

Ann Lander (sospiro)
January 27th, 2013, 05:13 PM
"Whoa, Mary, sorry, but you really, really, really can't do this...... don't ruin the Sextet! It's just one of those things, musically speaking, that you can't mess with!"

One of the reasons I chose this version of Lucia in the poll over at 'the other place'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTuEBwX8dQk

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/511o4ZWARJL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 27th, 2013, 05:40 PM
One of the reasons I chose this version of Lucia in the poll over at 'the other place'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTuEBwX8dQk

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/511o4ZWARJL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Yep, that's a proper Sextet.

You know, I can imagine Ms. Zimmerman, coming from another medium, and thinking, "oh well, all these people singing simultaneously is kind of confusing, I don't know what this composer was thinking with this messy scene; we need something else to focus on, rather than all these confusing voices. Hey, I know it! We need some stage action, a photographer, to make of this boring and static moment something fun!" She probably saw it as just some other scene, failing to grasp its importance in opera history, and its pivotal function in this particular work.

Hm... No, Ms. Zimmerman. It's not boring, and it's not confusing! It features each of the six characters' psychological reaction - in a moment of reckoning - to the unexpected unfolding events. It's gorgeous, and it requires respect and concentration. It's one of the best scenes in all of opera. It *can't* be improved upon. Leave it up to the singers and the orchestra, and get your darn photographer out of there!!!

Like I said, I'm baffled that in an institution that has presented the finest opera performances since 1880 to the public and harbors noted conductors and operatic experts, nobody had the guts to set this *theatrical* stage director straight and teach her that this is not how it's done.

Aramis
January 27th, 2013, 05:47 PM
This is how properly staged sextet should look like, just for comparison:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/df/Lucia_Sextet.jpg/640px-Lucia_Sextet.jpg

Ann Lander (sospiro)
January 27th, 2013, 06:27 PM
Hm... No, Ms. Zimmerman. It's not boring, and it's not confusing! It features each of the six characters' psychological reaction - in a moment of reckoning - to the unexpected unfolding events. It's gorgeous, and it requires respect and concentration. It's one of the best scenes in all of opera. It *can't* be improved upon. Leave it up to the singers and the orchestra, and get your darn photographer out of there!!!


:tiphat:

Beautifully put Alma

Yashin
January 28th, 2013, 01:04 PM
The photographer bit reminds me of the Le Nozze from Paris on DVD with Sylvain Cambreling conducting a Christoph Marthelar production. During the overture Cambreling stops conducting and starts taking photos with a camera. All a bit odd. Each 'shot' shows the singers and introduces them. Very odd considering the overture to Le Nozze is so beautiful. Actually, this is my favourite Le Nozze production. Just that bit i find odd.

Yashin
January 28th, 2013, 01:05 PM
Has anyone listened to Dessay's cd called "Mad Scenes"? Wondered if it is worth purchasing.

Dark_Angel
January 28th, 2013, 01:13 PM
Has anyone listened to Dessay's cd called "Mad Scenes"? Wondered if it is worth purchasing.

Yes worth getting especially for $4 at Amazon USA sellers, there are 3 really long 15+ minute segments which limit the number of scences included. Not sure why Candide was included here.....

Even better and more essential is her highlight DVD, great collection of scences many unavailable in commercial DVD release, includes artist comments about each scence

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/513ODp5z-gL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B002KGVBF0/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51E8wVhO8zL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Yashin
January 29th, 2013, 08:32 AM
Yes worth getting especially for $4 at Amazon USA sellers, there are 3 really long 15+ minute segments which limit the number of scences included. Not sure why Candide was included here.....

Even better and more essential is her highlight DVD, great collection of scences many unavailable in commercial DVD release, includes artist comments about each scence

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/513ODp5z-gL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B002KGVBF0/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51E8wVhO8zL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Thanks Dark Angel! I will look into that then

jhar26
March 6th, 2013, 08:22 AM
Speaking of our beloved leader, I'm surprised he hasn't mentioned this DVD:

http://c3.cduniverse.ws/resized/250x500/movie/893/8608893.jpg

La Bellissima and Elina Garanca are vocally and visually superb as Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour, each actually having some physical resemblance to the historical figure she portrays. Ildebrando D'Archangelo doesn't look a thing like the real Henry VIII, but he sings marvelously and has the right commanding presence for the monarch. I'm afraid I can't warm up to Francesco Meli's Percy (Stephen Costello at the Met was a little better), and Dan Paul Dumitrescu's Lord Rochefort looks more like Anne's father than her brother. Elisabeth Kulman is a delightful Smeaton.
I agree with every single word in this review.

My only problem with this otherwise great opera is that Henry VIII is such a scumbag without any redeeming qualities whatsoever that it's hard to imagine any woman falling in love with him, let alone up to a point where she would be willing to send her best friend to death for him.

Soave_Fanciulla
March 6th, 2013, 09:19 AM
I agree with every single word in this review.

My only problem with this otherwise great opera is that Henry VIII is such a scumbag without any redeeming qualities whatsoever that it's hard to imagine any woman falling in love with him, let alone up to a point where she would be willing to send her best friend to death for him.

I'm not so sure that anyone really falls in love with Henry. It's more a question of political ambition.

And Ildebrando is a great improvement on the real Henry who had little piggy eyes and a nasty little pursed mouth.

jhar26
March 6th, 2013, 10:45 AM
I'm not so sure that anyone really falls in love with Henry. It's more a question of political ambition.

And Ildebrando is a great improvement on the real Henry who had little piggy eyes and a nasty little pursed mouth.
Perhaps, but in the opera Seymour seems (for whatever reason) to really love Henry and the opera is to a large degree about her being torn between her passion for Henry and her love for Anna.

Ann Lander (sospiro)
March 6th, 2013, 05:23 PM
I agree with every single word in this review.

My only problem with this otherwise great opera is that Henry VIII is such a scumbag without any redeeming qualities whatsoever that it's hard to imagine any woman falling in love with him, let alone up to a point where she would be willing to send her best friend to death for him.


Power is an aphrodisiac :)

(good to see you again jhar26!)

jhar26
March 6th, 2013, 06:13 PM
Power is an aphrodisiac :)
So I've heard. Since I've never had any power I wouldn't know.


(good to see you again jhar26!)
Thanks. I'm glad to be back. :)

MAuer
March 6th, 2013, 07:06 PM
Perhaps, but in the opera Seymour seems (for whatever reason) to really love Henry and the opera is to a large degree about her being torn between her passion for Henry and her love for Anna.

Although much of what happens in the opera is historically inaccurate, the librettist could hardly get around the fact that Anne ends up being executed. I think the character of Jane here really does love Henry, and he loves her -- at least as far as this man is capable of loving anyone aside from himself. At the same time, she's loyal to Anne, which gives her one whopping guilty conscience. If the whole tale were completely fictitious, Jane would probably renounce Henry for Anne's sake (with an appropriately big operatic scene), and Henry would repent of his wicked ways and send Anne off to live happily ever after with Percy.

Of course, in real life, Jane Seymour probably didn't like Anne Boleyn a whole lot and didn't care what happened to her. There's also some suggestion that Henry and Jane felt affection for each other, though he wanted an heir and she wouldn't say no to a crown.

jhar26
March 6th, 2013, 07:32 PM
Although much of what happens in the opera is historically inaccurate, the librettist could hardly get around the fact that Anne ends up being executed. I think the character of Jane here really does love Henry, and he loves her -- at least as far as this man is capable of loving anyone aside from himself. At the same time, she's loyal to Anne, which gives her one whopping guilty conscience. If the whole tale were completely fictitious, Jane would probably renounce Henry for Anne's sake (with an appropriately big operatic scene), and Henry would repent of his wicked ways and send Anne off to live happily ever after with Percy.

Of course, in real life, Jane Seymour probably didn't like Anne Boleyn a whole lot and didn't care what happened to her. There's also some suggestion that Henry and Jane felt affection for each other, though he wanted an heir and she wouldn't say no to a crown.
Not that it's a big issue for me because I love the opera as it is, but to make it more believable there should either be a scene or aria where we see another - more sympathetic side to Henry so that we can imagine Seymour being in love with him OR they should have made Seymour herself just as evil as Henry. She already is of course, but the operatic version at least appears to have a conscience. And that's a hard sell because I can't imagine someone with a conscience sending three people to their grave so that she can marry the guy who's responsible for that. But maybe that's just me...

Clayton
October 2nd, 2013, 09:35 AM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SRRen3vaL._SL500_AA300_.jpg http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51QCdu5NQVL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Comparing these two JDF performances.......
Everyone owns (or should own) the Dessay version, almost universally praised for good reason

I recently picked up the Ciofi version also and was treated to another great version. Some don't like the change of time period in this production to WWII France, I am nuetral about this and glad it is slightly different for variation sake since I own both. Ciofi is actually a bit better singer overall with a sweet pure high end that garnered several long ovations.....however I think Dessay has better inate comic acting ability so each version has a slightly different feel in acting style and visually different productions.

JDF is masterful in both versions both singing and acting the part, nothing held back here and the audience is thrilled. The reason I purchased this was to complete my JDF video collection and I can very highly recommend this version.....but if you can only own one start with the Dessay performance.

Patrizia Ciofi and Juan Diego Florez return to London for this (Laurent Pelly's) production with a cameo appearance by Kiri Te Kanawa. I haven't seen or heard this opera yet so I am very tempted. So many operas to choose from...

Whilst I am going mad trying to decide my one remaining allocation for live performances this season, I go back to listen to Lucia.
2604
It was a two pronged attack by Maria and Lucia that was my hook in to opera. This is my only recording of Lucia that I have and I love it. Yes I love the cover too; great drama played in a beautiful colouration. The music and all the characters are played beautifully; even if I have only seen one contemporary production with an Italian Mafia setting (not for me :noway:) I can see the whole opera played out in my mind in 17th century Scotland.
With respect for this recording, I think I am ready for another now and will probably go with the Divina label Callas at La Scala 1955. I have made my first purchase with this record label (Anna) and will wait to see what is delivered first. (So far I have only received the digital booklet and that in itself is worth maybe thirty percent of the purchase price).

Ann Lander (sospiro)
October 2nd, 2013, 07:31 PM
Patrizia Ciofi and Juan Diego Florez return to London for this (Laurent Pelly's) production with a cameo appearance by Kiri Te Kanawa. I haven't seen or heard this opera yet so I am very tempted. So many operas to choose from...

I saw it with Dessay & with Dawn French in the cameo. It was spectacular & I'm so pleased I saw Natalie in one of her signature roles.



Whilst I am going mad trying to decide my one remaining allocation for live performances this season, I go back to listen to Lucia.
2604
It was a two pronged attack by Maria and Lucia that was my hook in to opera. This is my only recording of Lucia that I have and I love it. Yes I love the cover too; great drama played in a beautiful colouration. The music and all the characters are played beautifully; even if I have only seen one contemporary production with an Italian Mafia setting (not for me :noway:) I can see the whole opera played out in my mind in 17th century Scotland.
With respect for this recording, I think I am ready for another now and will probably go with the Divina label Callas at La Scala 1955. I have made my first purchase with this record label (Anna) and will wait to see what is delivered first. (So far I have only received the digital booklet and that in itself is worth maybe thirty percent of the purchase price).


Lucia was the first complete opera on CD which I bought & it was this one.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41F39V5494L._AA200_.jpg

I've bought others since and I love them, most notably

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51RM2QHq%2BNL._AA200_.jpg

but that first one will remain my favourite.

Clayton
October 3rd, 2013, 02:48 PM
Lucia was the first complete opera on CD which I bought & it was this one.



So we both love Lucia and cricket.

You don't happen to have any Dierama Pulcherrimum in your garden do you? That would really amaze me.

Ann Lander (sospiro)
October 3rd, 2013, 07:34 PM
So we both love Lucia and cricket.

You don't happen to have any Dierama Pulcherrimum in your garden do you? That would really amaze me.

Sorry, didn't even know what it was :upset:

Don't really have a garden now & when I did have one I just used to grow veg.

Do you like F1?

Clayton
October 4th, 2013, 05:49 AM
Do you like F1?

Ooh! I like anything with an engine; planes, trains and that ridiculous contraption parked on my driveway I call "my mid life crisis" (4.2L V8)! More of a MotoGP guy than F1 though...

Amfortas
October 4th, 2013, 08:01 AM
Ooh! I like anything with an engine; planes, trains and that ridiculous contraption parked on my driveway I call "my mid life crisis" (4.2L V8)! More of a MotoGP guy than F1 though...

Nothing wrong with a good midlife crisis; I'm well into my third (aka Stravinsky the Firebird):

2617

Unlike the first two crises, this one doesn't involve a woman, so I'm actually able to enjoy it!

Clayton
October 4th, 2013, 08:45 AM
Nothing wrong with a good midlife crisis; I'm well into my third (aka Stravinsky the Firebird):

Unlike the first two crises, this one doesn't involve a woman, so I'm actually able to enjoy it!

Now that's funny. Really funny. If I had any issues remaining, they're gone after hearing that!
Seriously though, that is funny.

JohnGerald
August 15th, 2014, 04:05 PM
Lucia was the first opera I saw, back in the late 1960s, as I recall. It was when the Met toured, and I stood to see Sutherland do the role. I can still close my eyes and see the long red hair and the white gown. It was a formative event, because, while I had listened to LPs and Met broadcasts, I had never actually seen one; never experienced one and never anticipated what a life long effect it would have. Later, when I had a chance to meet Dame Joan, I suspect my expression of appreciation was a bit overdone.

But I think that when one (moi) draws such intense enjoyment from the art, it is appropriate to thank its practitioners when possible.

Clayton
August 15th, 2014, 04:12 PM
...when I had a chance to meet Dame Joan...


Please expand!

JohnGerald
August 15th, 2014, 05:51 PM
OK. We had attended La Fille du Regiment with Sutherland & Pav when the Met toured and Detroit had not yet become the Beirut of the Midwest. I had a friend whose mom worked at the Masonic Temple Theatre, the venue for the Met, and she got us backstage many, many times to meet the singers. At this performance, we spent some time with Dame Joan and Sir Richard (who caused my SO to have serious self control issues). Mind, I was a lot younger then, so I probably stammered and acted immature. But the two were most gracious, and she autographed the program for my two young sons, who today have no interest in opera.

After we left, we ran into Pavarotti, who had become lost, in the alley behind the theatre. He was not as well known back then, but that's another story

Clayton
August 15th, 2014, 08:52 PM
...she autographed the program for my two young sons, who today have no interest in opera...


:laugh4:

....it happens...



...After we left, we ran into Pavarotti, who had become lost, in the alley behind the theatre. He was not as well known back then, but that's another story

:noway:

No, no! I command that you must expatiate on this now!

JohnGerald
August 15th, 2014, 11:20 PM
OK, Clayton. We leave the scene with Dame Joan and Sir Richard and are in an alley behind Detroit's Masonic Temple, a place where sane people would not dare be today. We see this big man talking to himself in Italian. I didn't realize who he was at first, remembering that he was not as well known by far at that time. But having seen, heard and been astounded by his Tonio, I asked if he was lost. He was. I have very little Italian, but fortunately DR. David DiChiera, who founded the Michigan Opera Company some years later, was nearby and we got Pav sorted out

I will tell you how he got my gold Cross pen from me and how we met again in Philadelphia many years later when he still had it at another time

JohnGerald
January 6th, 2015, 08:51 PM
I do not see any comments on the SFO's Lucrezia Borgia (whose dinner invitations were best refused) starring Renee Fleming, Elizabeth DeShong and Michael Fabiano, Riccardo Frizza conducting. So, without further ado ...

It's a very good production of a lesser known, but NOT lesser quality Donizetti opera. I believe that like the Met's Armida, it was scheduled as a vehicle for Fleming. Like Armida, she does a very decent job, but as she admitted in her interview as part of the Armida DVD, she is not a bel canto specialist, and at 52 (?), it shows. It's like she'd rather be doing Rosenkavalier. Still, she does a very nice job.

DeShong and Fabiano are terrific, both dramatically and vocally.

Staging is traditional -- with a San Francisco flair, meaning low cut attire for the guys and a ... closeness between Orsini and Gennaro that was not included in the libretto.

Disc quality is superb. Amazon sellers offer some nice discounts.

Soave_Fanciulla
January 6th, 2015, 09:27 PM
I do not see any comments on the SFO's Lucrezia Borgia (whose dinner invitations were best refused) starring Renee Fleming, Elizabeth DeShong and Michael Fabiano, Riccardo Frizza conducting. So, without further ado ...

It's a very good production of a lesser known, but NOT lesser quality Donizetti opera. I believe that like the Met's Armida, it was scheduled as a vehicle for Fleming. Like Armida, she does a very decent job, but as she admitted in her interview as part of the Armida DVD, she is not a bel canto specialist, and at 52 (?), it shows. It's like she'd rather be doing Rosenkavalier. Still, she does a very nice job.

DeShong and Fabiano are terrific, both dramatically and vocally.

Staging is traditional -- with a San Francisco flair, meaning low cut attire for the guys and a ... closeness between Orsini and Gennaro that was not included in the libretto.

Disc quality is superb. Amazon sellers offer some nice discounts.

Just one little comment. I listened with good headphones and a headphone amp. And I could hear the prompter at the beginning of every phrase. Drove me crazy...

JohnGerald
January 6th, 2015, 09:33 PM
Just one little comment. I listened with good headphones and a headphone amp. And I could hear the prompter at the beginning of every phrase. Drove me crazy...

Being older than you, ma'am, the attenuation of my hearing did not pick that up. But I listen on KEF speakers, so the fine details that headphones do catch (like Hvorostovsky's breathing) don't always translate.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
March 28th, 2015, 07:39 PM
I am re-watching Anna Netrebko's and Piotr Beczala's Met Lucia on DVD, for inspiration since I have two upcoming interviews with the artists doing their roles for the Opera Carolina production.

I've mentioned Anna's phenomenal performance in this, multiple times. One needs to uphold more the other spectacular performance in this, that of Piotr Beczala. It's uncanny. He is simply excellent here as Edgardo, and it may be his best delivery ever, considering everything I've seen with him (and it's saying a lot because he is consistently good, except for the occasional hiccup here and there which of course happens to all artists).

The Met public did recognize this, because the standing ovation Piotr got was even bigger than the one Anna also deservedly got.

JohnGerald
March 28th, 2015, 08:00 PM
Luiz, if memory serves, the hostess is Natalie Dessay, who notes that Beczala was subbing for Villazon and that Edgardo might be his "breakthrough" (or something like that).It certainly was!

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
March 28th, 2015, 08:47 PM
Luiz, if memory serves, the hostess is Natalie Dessay, who notes that Beczala was subbing for Villazon and that Edgardo might be his "breakthrough" (or something like that).It certainly was!

Yes, Natalie who was a *horrible* hostess and a *pitiful* interviewer, did say that. People speculate that her turn-offish interviewing style was because she was jealous that the Met chose to go with Anna's performance when releasing the DVD (Natalie had the same role in the exact same production but the Met did not release that one).

Florestan
March 30th, 2015, 02:03 AM
Absolutely wonderful La Fille du Regiment with Mariella Devia and Ewa Podles (two different packagings):
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71VmTzOuh-L._SY606_.jpghttp://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51A4D18A8YL.jpg

JohnGerald
April 3rd, 2015, 02:45 PM
Having watched the new La Favorite (Aldrich, Shi, Tezier) on Opus Arte twice now, all I can say is GET IT!! It's superb in all respects, starting with the overture, captured with superb sonic detail by the Opus Arte engineers. The singing is superb; the (mostly) traditional staging is very good and the quality of acting is first rate. It's a much needed addition to the Bel Canto repertoire, anyway, but the quality of the performance and the Blu ray disc has to be experienced to be appreciated.

Clayton
April 3rd, 2015, 03:33 PM
Yessir! It is in the shopping basket.

JohnGerald
June 20th, 2015, 07:57 PM
A brief comment on Bongiovanni's new Maria di Rohan. It is a flawed recording of a marvelous late Donizetti work. While I am glad to have it to see it performed, a marginal tenor and a qualitively compromised disc (picture gets blurry and sound (stereo only) volume fluctuates) gets it a "C"; for Bel canto enthusiasts only.

Soave_Fanciulla
June 20th, 2015, 08:39 PM
A brief comment on Bongiovanni's new Maria di Rohan. It is a flawed recording of a marvelous late Donizetti work. While I am glad to have it to see it performed, a marginal tenor and a qualitively compromised disc (picture gets blurry and sound (stereo only) volume fluctuates) gets it a "C"; for Bel canto enthusiasts only.

Thanks for the warning. Good to know what to avoid as well as what to get.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 19th, 2016, 01:37 AM
Maria di Rohan on DVD

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

Maria di Rohan, melodramma tragico in tre atti, sung in Italian
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the play Un Duel Sous le Cardinal de Richelieu by Lockroy

Premiered in Vienna on June 5, 1843, with revisions done by the composer to subsequent runs at the Théâtre des Italiens in Paris the same year, in Naples in 1844, in Parma also in 1844, and finally the composer made the last changes to the version presented in Venice in 1845

Orchestra e Coro del Bergamo Musica Festival Gaetano Donizetti
Conducted by Gregory Kunde (yes, really!)
Chorus Master Fabio Tartari

Stage Director Roberto Recchia
Sets and Costumes Angelo Sala in collaboration with the Accademia Teatro alla Scala
Lighting Designer Claudio Schmid

Recorded live on October 7 and 9, 2011 at the Teatro Donizetti di Bergamo, Italy
Critical edition of the score by Luca Zoppelli, Universal Music/Ricordi/Fondazione Donizetti

Cast

Maria, contessa di Rohan - Majella Cullagh
Riccardo, conte di Chalais - Salvatore Cordella
Enrico, duca di Chevreuse - Marco di Felice
Il Visconte di Suze - Giuseppe Capoferri
Armando di Gondi - Domenico Menini
De Fiesque - Aleksandar Stefanoski
Aubry - Francesco Cortinovis
Un famigliare di Chevreuse - Francesco Laino

Insert with 3 color and 5 black-and-white production pictures, credits, list of musical numbers with characters but no duration, a long and detailed (very good and informative!) 6-page essay and a 2-page synopsis, repeated in Italian, English, and Japanese. Picture 16:9 NTSC, sound PCM Stereo only, region zero (worldwide), subtitles in Italian, English, and Japanese, running time 120 minutes, no extras. Released by Bongiovani in 2014.

----------

This is a very beautiful and melodious opera with a great overture. It is the first time that it is released on video. Unfortunately the technical quality of this product is deplorable. While the insert is excellent with a very solid and informative 6-page essay, the 2.0 sound is very poorly balanced. It relies on head mike capture of the singers' voice, resulting in their voices being extremely loud, with the orchestra muffled in the background. Furthermore, the volume of the voices varies and one needs to readjust the volume of one's sound system, multiple times. The chorus sounds muffled too.

Image is equally bad. Grainy at times, with poor definition, and garish over-saturated colors. Lighting is weird with some dark spots and an insistence on bluish hues.

The production is decent as far as traditional stagings go, with heavy period costumes. Its biggest merit is that it doesn't get in the way, but there isn't anything imaginative or outstanding (well, some of the slanted imagery on the background is nice), and the acting is rather of the park-and-bark variety. So, while one is grateful to have this opera released on video, one wonders if this was much of an upgrade from audio-only versions.

Singing is far from ideal. Soprano Majella Culagh has a so-so timbre, and she keeps poor pitch control with her long notes not being steadily held. Also she is not helped by the sound engineering: her high notes exceed the capacity of the amateurish recording and get screechy for no fault of her own (or maybe some fault of her own, hehe - she does sound a bit strident at times even when the sound engineering holds).

Tenor Salvatore Cordella, without being anything to write home about, generally does well and possesses more clarity of enunciation and musicality than his colleagues (which is not saying much), but he could use a bit more delicacy. The baritone Marco di Felice is rough on the edges, very unstable and even less delicate (funny enough, an Amazon reviewer got it the other way around when comparing the two male singers).

The chorus sounds kind of lame but one wonders if this is due to the bad sound capture.

The surprising musical element is that tenor-turned-conductor Gregory Kunde does a neat job. As a singer himself, his synchronicity with the stage is quite good, and he speeds up and slows down when his singing colleagues do the same. He is very energetic in the great overture.

He can't save this product, though. The opera itself is very beautiful, but the recording failures and the faulty singing are very painful to listen to.

C-, not recommended. Stick with the CD versions, of which we have one with Renata Scotto, and one with Edita Gruberová. More recently our interviewee Christopher Purves recorded one with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; most likely it is good too.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
April 12th, 2016, 11:42 PM
Gemma di Vergy, tragedia lirica in two acts, sung in Italian
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto by Giovanni Emanuele Bidéra after Charles VII chez ses grands vassaux (1831) by Alexandre Dumas pčre
Premiered on December 26, 1834 at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Italy

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/91sH41yX94L._SY445_.jpg

A co-production of the Bergamo Musica Festival Gaetano Donizetti and Teatro alla Scala, released in 2013 on DVD by Bongiovanni, recorded live at the Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo, on 16 and 18 September 2009 - This is the only DVD of this relatively obscure piece - the score is a new edition by Fondazione Donizetti based on the original autograph conserved by Livio Aragona.

Orchestra del Bergamo Musica Festival conducted by Roberto Rizzi Brignoli
Coro del Bergamo Musica Festival, chorus master Fabio Tartari

Stage director Laurent Gerber
Assistant director Alfonso Liguori
Choreographer Tiziana Colombo
Set and Costume designer Angelo Sala, in collaboration with the students at the Accademia Teatro alla Scala
Lighting designer Claudio Schmid

Cast

Gemma - Maria Agresta
Tamas - Gregory Kunde
Conte di Vergy - Mario Cassi
Guido - Leonardo Galeazzi
Rolando - Dario Russo
Ida - Kremena Dilcheva

DVD 9 16:9 NTSC, standard definition. Region code zero, worldwide. Sound format PCM stereo only. Running time 140 minutes. Subtitles in English and Italian. The booklet contains five black-and-white production pictures and three color pictures; list of musical numbers with characters but no duration; there is a dense, informative five-page essay, and a detailed two-page synopsis, repeated in Italian, English, and Japanese. No extras.

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

This product comes with a booklet that contains one of the best essays I've seen included in DVDs and blu-rays. Five dense pages situate very precisely and deeply Donizetti's overall musical style, the place of this opera in his works, and add clever musical commentary addressing the orchestration for several musical numbers. It's almost worth buying this DVD just to be able to read this excellent text authored by Italian scholar and musicologist Livio Aragona.

We learn from Aragona that the high drama in the libretto pushed Donizetti to paradoxically aim for restraint and seriousness in his score, to avoid a melodramatic (in the bad sense) effect. While he was already experimenting some innovations in Anna Bolena, he seemed to go back to a certain formality in Gemma. He did use it as a laboratory for Roberto Devereux, where he developed broader symphonic concepts. The music in Gemma according to Aragona is more incisive in defining and framing each scene, and it flows with continuous and majestic orchestration. Tone painting is very precise, with the use of different sections of the orchestra to highlight different emotions.

One can feel that the musicologist is right from the beginning, with the very long and solemn overture, which has indeed the feel of a symphony. This is helped by the fact that this orchestra gathered for the Bergamo festival seems quite proficient in this musical style, and the chorus is not bad.

However the first singer to enter the stage is a full-blown disaster: Leonardo Galeazzi in the role of Guido, whose bass instrument is painfully thin, which is a pity because his opening aria is quite beautiful. Not only his timbre is unpleasant, but his voice disappears when the chorus starts singing behind him.

The pain of listening to this singer continues into this first scene because Donizetti gave him another aria right after the first one, oh no! A brief apparition of Dario Russo in the role of Rolando is a bit of a relief because he does sing better.

The sets are garish - they reproduce frescoes and church panels but are somewhat over-the-top. Sound capture is not great and the sound seems very compressed and flat. Image definition and colors are good, though. Costumes are very traditional, and not particularly accomplished (a bit excessive).

Gregory Kunde makes his entrance, and oh boy, this previously good singer seems to be beyond his prime. The middle of his range is beautiful as usual but above the passagio things get iffy, with trouble sustaining the pitch and a couple of cracked notes here and there. His vibrato is also widening a bit too much.

Now, Ms. Maria Agresta in the title role has strengths and shortcomings. First of all, this is arguably one of the most difficult roles in all of opera, one that Montserrat Caballé herself called "equivalent to singing three Normas." Ms. Agresta seems to have a lot of stamina and she does take on the wide range of this vocal role fairly well although her top can get screechy, and she handles successfully the abrupt dynamic variations from very forceful singing to pianissimo. She can trill. What is not good is that her pitch is very, very unstable - but, really! It goes all over the place in numerous lines! I'm not that thrilled about her timbre either. It is quite harsh. I'm starting to suspect that the poor sound engineering is what is hurting these singers, because it is unusual that in the same production I'm displeased with how several of the singers sound, timbre-wise.

There are good news - Mr. Galeazzi is improving as time goes by. His first two exposed arias were tough on him before his voice had an opportunity to warm up, but then he surprised me with a pretty good duet with Gemma. There are bad news too - instead of improving like him, she is actually getting more strident. Oh boy, again!

I'm reading some of the Amazon reviews and most of them praise Ms. Agresta. One of them even says she is better than Caballé! Whaaaat??? I wonder what is wrong with these listeners. There is *one* reviewer who says it like I'm seeing it: "The major problem is the soprano. I was expecting something along the lines of Caballe or Sutherland - a beautiful timbre to the voice. If you expect someone who sails through the coloratura and hits the high notes with ease, look elsewhere. This role calls for someone with a opulent voice that sings the music effortlessly. This woman has a harsh edge to her voice and she struggles - it is not attractive. I had to stop the disc halfway through."

Fortunately the next singer is not so bad: Mario Cassi as Conte di Vergy. His baritone instrument is pleasant and well-modulated at least when there is no need for a lot of volume, because he doesn't project that well. Compared to his colleagues, though, he is on the winning side. There is still one singer who hasn't made her entrance yet, the mezzo. Fingers crossed.

The English subtitles at times translate wrongly the Italian words. This is a minor annoyance.

The production is quite static in its blocking. Second act does have some more interesting imagery in the sets.

The quartet close to the end of the first act is sublime. Donizetti at his best.

OK, whoa. Finally a very, very good singer. Bulgarian mezzo Kremena Dilcheva is way better than her colleagues. She has musicality and a deep, resonant voice. She is also very attractive. Too bad her role is so small.

http://www.kremenadilcheva.com/img/biopic.jpg

Anyway, you get it. I'm enjoying the opera itself a lot more than the production and the singers. Given that this work (which was quite popular for many decades in Italy before it became more obscure) does not exist on any other DVD and there is such a good booklet, and given that the orchestra and the chorus do well (and a couple of singers are decent - Cassi and Dilcheva), I guess it's still worth purchasing. These are the pros (and the opera itself is another pro).

The cons: erratic singing with some unpleasant voices (to the point of ruining the entire experience), static traditional production.

There is merit in putting this worthy opera out there, but one dreams of another company picking this up with proper singers and a more stimulating production.

Overall: B+ (barely recommended).

Hm... I'm watching second act and I'm upgrading it. Both the sets and the singing have improved. I'll go with A- (recommended but with many areas to improve).

Florestan
May 3rd, 2016, 04:43 PM
Both of these Roberto Devereux are excellent and if I were forced to choose between the two it would be an excruciatingly difficult decision.
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512v%2BvHShSL.jpghttp://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51PPQYKKPML.jpg

Clip of queen (https://youtu.be/Ey1T8T1g7Rs?t=1099) from the one on the right.

Florestan
April 24th, 2020, 01:53 AM
Donizetti: Roberto Devereux on DVD
I'm recovering this from an old review I wrote for another site:

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

Bergamo Music Festival 2006.

Composer: Donizetti, Gaetano
Libretto/Text Author: Cammarano, Salvatore
Libretto Source: Ancelot, Jacques-Francois
Conductor: Rota, Marcello
Orchestra: Bergamo Musica Festival Orchestra
Chorus: Bergamo Musica Festival Chorus
Chorus Master: Casati, Corrado

Elizabeth: Theodossiou, Dimitra
Lord Cecil: Albani, Luigi
Robert Devereux: Pisapia, Massimiliano
Sara: Bragaglia, Federica
Sir Walter Raleigh: Valerio, Giorgio
The Duke of Nottingham: Schroeder, Andrew

Massimiliano Pisapia was simply excellent, and I had never heard of this guy before! Federica Bragaglia looked the part (attractive, pretty) and sang decently. The Queen was excellent (Dimitra Theodossiou) although a little shrill at times - but it adds to the characterization of her role as evil. Good traditional staging.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/514HUU7uz3L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

But of course the big star of the show is Donizetti himself, because his vocal music is incredibly beautiful.

So, what follows is about the opera rather than about the above production:

Overture - short and to the point, pleasant.

Outstanding first aria by Sara. Wow. This will be very good.

Down to the second aria, Queen Elizabeth I's first. OK, the queen can sing!!!
Spectacular. So far, 13 minutes of pure magic. It starts already on an A++ mode. Oh boy, I'm in for a treat!!! Pause to refill wine glass, bread and dipping oil.

Second queen aria. She continues to impress. What is it, an endless series of gorgeous bel canto arias? No signs of slowing down, each one is better than the previous one.

Duet between the Regina and the conte di Essex. Nascondi, frena i palpiti, o misero mio core. Simply sublime. A+++

The Duke of Nottingham gets his baritone aria. Good. Beautiful. Less spectacular than his female predecessors. A.

End of Act I. Flawless. Perfect.

Act II opens with a long series of duets between Roberto and Sara, again, each one more beautiful than the last one.

This is such a melodious opera!

At this point, the streaming site I was watching it from, crashed. I was able to finish watching it one day later, but this time did not engage in detailed scoring, and just said this:

Spectacular, A+, and easily made it into one of my favorites. This is one that I'll be listening to over and over, once I buy a good recording.
Chilling dramatic finale, Quel sangue versato al cielo s'innalza.
Excellent from beginning to end, an impressive array of melodious arias.

That is my favorite Roberto Devereux on DVD and and CD!

Adrian
April 24th, 2020, 12:45 PM
Both of these Roberto Devereux are excellent and if I were forced to choose between the two it would be an excruciatingly difficult decision.
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512v%2BvHShSL.jpghttp://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51PPQYKKPML.jpg

Clip of queen (https://youtu.be/Ey1T8T1g7Rs?t=1099) from the one on the right.

That's Sutherland singing isn't it?
( Video not available)

Adrian
April 24th, 2020, 12:48 PM
https://i.postimg.cc/qvx69vCd/550x822.jpg (https://postimages.org/)
Time for some fun.:encouragement:

Florestan
April 25th, 2020, 03:53 AM
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51PPQYKKPML.jpg
That's Sutherland singing isn't it?


Not Sutherland. Here is the cast (http://pendatchanska.com/recordings/dvds/roberto-devereux/):

Alexandrina Pendatchanska (Elisabetta)
Giuseppe Sabatini (Devereux)
Roberto Servile (Duke)
Ildiko Komlosi (Duchess)
Pierre Lefebvre (Cecil)
Carlo Del Bosco (Gualtiero)

Here is a clip from the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRWH9suEjGA

Adrian
April 25th, 2020, 12:49 PM
Not Sutherland. Here is the cast (http://pendatchanska.com/recordings/dvds/roberto-devereux/):

Alexandrina Pendatchanska (Elisabetta)
Giuseppe Sabatini (Devereux)
Roberto Servile (Duke)
Ildiko Komlosi (Duchess)
Pierre Lefebvre (Cecil)
Carlo Del Bosco (Gualtiero)

]
I am so sorry, they uses here voice in another one:
https://i.postimg.cc/zbtRZssL/joan-film.jpg (https://postimg.cc/zbtRZssL)
Pic from internet :puter: