Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Alfano - Cyrano de Bergerac / Alagna Manfrino Rivenq Ferrari Troxell Schaer Barrard Rittelmann Habela Guidarini Montpellier Opera|
Actors: Roberto Alagna, Nathalie Manfrino, Richard Troxell, Nicolas Rivenq, Marc Barrard
Director: George Blume
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Studio: Uni Dist Corp (music) Release Date: 04/12/2005
Alagna & Alfano - An Amazing Cyrano!
G P Padillo | Portland, ME United States | 07/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't understand those who find Alfano's score here "unmusical." There seems to be an increasing number of people who think music stopped being beautiful with Beethoven or, perhaps, Verdi.
Well, call me a sap, but I'm writing this through (yet again) a veil of tears. The entire final act of Cyrano simply overwhelmed me.
Just about every aspect of this production is flawless, and it makes as strong a case for the revival of this opera as I can imagine. First off, there is the Cyrano of Roberto Alagna. We first see him before the opera starts darting down the stairs of the opera house and running through the lobby. Once the opera begins, he makes a sensational entrance from the back of the house, moving among the audience, before hopping up on the stage. There is no way to describe his performance as anything less than simply sensational. The performance finds him in excellent voice, thrilling top notes and with his natural ability in French means the text is sung with
elegance and plenty of panache. Whether running, strutting like a peacock, swashbuckling or hiding from view, Alagna's every move is executed with the elegant grace of a dancer. It is a joy watching someone have this much fun in a role. He executes some fine sword fighting and even as diminutive as he is, makes this character larger than life. His arioso "Oh! Paris!" which
ends the first scene begins so hauntingly beautiful and then builds to a crashing, thrilling and exciting conclusion. The call to arms for the Cadets of Gascony (I don't know what it's properly called) is as rousing as one could hope for. I'd have joined the Muskateers, too!
Richard Troxell strikes all the right balances as Christian. The duet between he and Cyrano pledging their alligence to become "one man" develops beautifully, and rushes into an breathless finish.
Alfano's music opening Act II is, in my opinion, no less successful than Massenet in Manon at conveying musically, and eloquently, a sense of a specific time without actually resorting to composing 18th century style music.
What a gem is the Roxane of Nathalie Manfrino. Physically and vocally she could be the twin of Christiane Oelze - nowhere more so then in the final act where, with Alfano's so very French music she recalls Oelze as Melisande. Manfrino is a genuine beauty and the voice, a lovely lyric with some wonderful bloom to the top notes, constantly impresses. Like Alagna (and Troxell) her acting felt genuine, one believed her Roxane at every turn. There were times I was a little angry with her shallowness and cruelty towards Christiane, but it all works out.
The physical production is gorgeous - and by Alagna's brothers, David and Frederico, with costumes by Christian Gasc. I don't know how long they all worked on this, but the flow of this Cyrano, the quality of the acting is as fine as one could hope to see in any opera video.
There were plenty of gorgeous musical highlights; the amazing Balcony Duet, with everybody firing on all cylinders; the wordless chorus sung by the soldiers . . . , so many others.
It is, however, the final act that absolutely destroys me. Alfano's score here, so heavy on the woodwinds, descending scales played on flute, the vibrant buzz of the reeds, and with swirling strings, it could easily be mistaken for Debussy (especially with the uniformly excellent French coming from this cast). Alagna's transformation of Cyrano, from cocky now tired and weak, but no less proud is a heartbreaker as soon as he arrives at the convent. As his death approaches, the score grows more and more delicate, passages sung by Roxane unaccompanied, also reminiscent of Debussy, but with Alfano's own stamp (which I'm getting to know better and better and like, more and more). As Cyrano reads the final letter to Roxane, the clarinet takes a soaring melody that shoots right to my heart. I know, some of ya'll think I'm nuts, but this music - this act - I find overwhelmingly poignant.
The efforts of all involved pay off in a wonderfully theatrical and musically exquisite performance. For the longest time I believed Alagna could do nothing better than his performance in that amazing Don Carlos from the Chatelet (also with inspired casting), but this Cyrano really is a creature that touched me as profoundly as anything I can immediately think
Alagna triumphs in excellent production of neglected work
MDFinMIA | N. Miami, FL USA | 05/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This, of course, is a "must-have" disc for the opera completist, a work now very much neglected by a composer known best for his completion of Puccini's Turandot. This disc makes a great case for the this work's re-appearance on world stages. While perhaps not brilliant, there are lovely moments in Alfano's score (the balcony scene and final duet in particular), and is lushly orchestrated. This Montpellier production is handsome, well-staged and theatrically involving. Alagna really triumphs in the title role, turning in a performance musically thrilling and theatrically mature - perhaps the best I've seen him do. Supporting cast is in a second league, perhaps, but all more than servicable (I'm less enthusiastic about Manfrino's Roxanne my colleague below). Technical aspects are all superb."
Panache from beginning to end!
R. B. Collins | Alexandria, VA | 05/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
Franco Alfano's opera Cyrano is finally perhaps getting its due, between the Met's premiere of the opera this past week with Placido Domingo and this amazing DVD of a French production starring Roberto Alagna in the title role.
Franco Alfano (1875-1954) composed this opera in the early 1930's, working with a French libretto by Henri Cain, adapted from the famous play by Edmond Rostand. The first performance was in Rome in 1936 in an Italian translation, and the opera was done in French in Paris soon thereafter. Both performances were well-received but the opera pretty much disappeared from the operatic map until recently. There is an Opera d'Oro recording currently available that resurrects a 1975 performance in Turin, and a sonically far more satisfactory CPO recording of a performance done in Kiel, Germany in 2002 that was well reviewed in Opera News. But this new performance on DVD leaves these attempts in the dust from all points of view.
Alfano's music is lyrical, impressionistic, radiant; the opulent orchestral color and sound is full partner to the highly literary text, and propels the drama forward. The beauty of the music with all its subtleties is more fully appreciated with repeated listening. Alfano manages to condense all the emotion into music that lasts less than two and a quarter hours - and this from a play that usually runs well over three hours! Although the play has necessarily been shortened, and some favorite speeches left out, the libretto text used in this production is extremely close to the poetry of Rostand, even more so than in other performances. Alagna claims that this version restores Alfano's original concept for the opera, especially in the balcony scene, which had been altered for the first performance because the original version was considered too difficult and not Italian enough.
But the change in the performance version is not the only thing making this production unique. It is a special pleasure to have the sung French so understandable and clear, something essential to do justice to Rostand's poetry, where words really do matter. The mix of volume between the singing and orchestral playing is about as perfect as anyone could ever hope for - both can be heard at all times.
The film itself is genuinely beautiful to look at, giving a sense of the theatre as well as of the performance. The sets are striking and evocative, especially in the last act, and the costumes are elegant, aiming at a flowing line and general sense of time and place, rather than a fussy historicity.
Now to the performances. Of course, the opera's success totally hinges on the title role. Adorned with a truly operatic nose, Roberto Alagna has taken on the soul of Cyrano, with all its complexities, nerve, pride, passion and fear. The result is spectacular, both aurally and visually, throughout the performance. And nowhere can there be found in any version of Rostand's play recorded anywhere, ever, a more moving interpretation of Cyrano's final moments in which he reads Roxane's letter and soon after dies. It simply is the best.
Nathalie Manfrino's Roxane is a joy to the eyes and ears. The vocal part is not an easy one to make truly attractive, but she succeeds absolutely. I think the greater weight Alfano gives the part of Roxane, especially in her avowal to Christian of her love for the beauty of his soul ("je lisais, je relisais") is one of the important things added by the music to the drama. And her emotion is almost painfully palpable in the last act.
Richard Troxell is apparently the only non-French main cast member, but his French holds up quite well. He creates a very sympathetic Christian and really looks the part. His particular lyric tenor provides a good contrast to Alagna's voice, but having both parts as tenors is what makes the balcony scene possible. The rest of the cast is equally wonderful in sound and acting ability, especially Nicolas Rivenq as a most elegant DeGuiche.
All in all, it could be said that this DVD is a real gift from the Alagna family; all of them really are stars here: Roberto of course, his sister-in-law Nathalie Manfrino, and his brothers David and Frederico, who were responsible for sets and direction. Let us hope that this DVD brings this opera to the fore where it deserves to be, as a most satisfying piece of theatre, that other opera companies will take it on, and that other tenors with the requisite panache will be inspired! All I can say is thank you, on behalf of Cyrano fans everywhere!
It is interesting to note that most of the reviews of Placido Domingo's performance at the Met laud the performance (except for the French pronunciation) but tend to dismiss the opera. Perhaps they just haven't heard it enough to fully appreciate it, and the particular relationship established between the music and the drama. So much of opera seems to happen in slow motion, but this is not true here with Alfano; he does not often linger to spin out a melody for its own sake. Curiously enough, in all the reviews I have encountered of this opera and its performances, the last act comes in for praise by some as the best part of the opera, and for strong criticism by others, as an opportunity squandered, totally missing a fitting climax. I would say that Alfano simply does not take the more obvious route to effect; this is particularly true in both the restored version of the balcony scene and in the final scene, where the seemingly natural build to a musical climax is broken, for reasons related to the drama and the story. But in the end the emotion is there, darker, more complex, and even more heartbreaking.
One final note: baritones who would like to take on the role of Cyrano should not despair - they should look at Eino Tamberg's opera. It is a gem of a totally different cut, but a gem nonetheless. True, it is in Estonian, but surely amenable to translation if needs be!"
A winner in every way! Bring back Alfano!
Bunny Man! | Seattle, WA USA | 03/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a lovely production of a lovely and undeservedly forgotten opera. The performances and fine, the sets and lighting brilliant, and the opera itself is beautiful and lyrical. Some unfairly criticize the opera's music as being average or boring. Not so! While there is little that could be hummed on the way out of the opera house, the entire score is lushly romantic and gorgeous. Forget the humming.
Alagna is riveting in the role. Three cheers!
Do not miss this very fine modern opera!"