Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Donizetti - Maria Stuarda / Remigio Ganassi Calleja Zanellato Teatro Donizetti di Bergamo Carminati|
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
A Fiery Dramatic Performance Not To Be Missed
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am proud to be the first to review this overlooked and neglected performance captured on DVD. Dating from 2000, it's an all-Italian cast in superb singing condition suffused with fiery and passionate acting. This DVD is a must have for fans of Donizetti opera. Gaetano Donizetti composed operas, usuallly paired with the librettist Salvatore Cammarano, in the wake of the bel canto craze- roughly from 1820-1849. Although Donizetti's most renowned opera is Lucia Di Lammermoor, revivals of his many operas have proven that underneath all the melodic richness and lightness lurked powerful drama. Donizetti composed, inadvertently, a trilogy of operas revolving around the three Tudor queens- Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and Queen Elizabeth in Roberto Devereux. These operas underwent outstanding revivals in the early 20th century and long into the 70's. Dramatic divas such as Leyla Gencer, Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland and even Beverly Sills and most recently Edita Gruberova and Miriciou have performed in these operas.This Maria Sturada is bold, excellent and highly dramatic, truly a must have for fans. Even if the singers are obscure, they are still terrific and pack a powerful punch, especially the lead sopranos of Maria Stuarda and Queen Elizabeth who deliver tour de force performances, especially impressive is their confrontation scene. Both singers look very much like the historic Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth. The opera was considered controversial and even banned in Italy during its initial performance (supposedly a European queen who was at the premiere fainted at the finale). Donizetti was not trying anything new. He had already composed operas dealing with the execution and beheading of monarchs- Anna Bolena his first hit ended in Anne Boylen's execution. The fact that Mary Stewart of Scotland was regarded as a Catholic martry and many Catholics resented her untimely death was perhaps most responsible for the harsh criticism it received during its first performances. The story deals with the triangle of Queen Elizabeth- Mary Stewart- Leicester. Queen Elizabeth, jealous and vengeful, is more than glad to sign Mary Stewart's death sentence because Leicester, the Earl she loved passionately, was in love with Mary Stewart (at least in the opera even if historically inaccurate). So basically a jealous queen kills off her rival charging her on political grounds. Plus, as always, the subtle Protestant versus Catholicism conflict lurks beneath the exterior. There are many fine moments in the opera. Among them: the confrontation in Fotheringay. Mary Stewart and Queen Elizabeth battle it out. Queen Elizabeth regards Mary as a rival- both romantic rival and political and she is infuriated when Mary hurls insults -"Figlia impura di Bolena! Vil Bastarda!" (Illegitimate daughter of Anne Boylen, vile bastard). The scene is full of fire on this performance. Also noteworthy is Mary's Prison Scene and Confession, the Prayer Scene, with its poignant chorus and Mary's fervent prayer with her vocals reaching high and sustained legato. And of course, not to mention the killer finale. Truly this is an opera to have."
Great performance--strange sound
C. Harbison | Montague, MA United States | 09/13/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The singers are all very good, the sets interesting, etc. but there is a strange echo to the sound that almost makes you think the singers are not singing what you are hearing. The performance is obviously miked from a great distance--audience sounds esp. at the end are quite amusing--but this has the effect of not letting us hear what we are seeing up close. Film quality is poor--very grainy--they did not get special bright lighting for this performance. But overall it is an exciting and moving rendition of the opera."
Inadequate protaganist leaves a gaping hole in overall resul
Niel Rishoi | Ann Arbor, MI USA | 03/11/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Main interest of this Maria Stuarda, taped at the Teatro Donizetti in December 2001, centers on the first available commercial traversal of the score's critical edition. The autograph score, thought to be lost, was discovered in 1989, in of all places, Sweden. The booklet (a model of it's kind, containing a full Italian libretto, notes in multiple languages, photos and a synopsis) attributes one Anders Wiklund to the Casa Ricordi Critical Edition. There are indeed numerous differences in several places throughout the score, in a departure from the by-now familiar version (derived from several, and supposedly "corrupt" sources) which has been used throughout the years in performance and recordings. I do not have the resources to compare the two scores side-by-side, and since different versions seem to be used for every performance available in any format, would be a major undertaking; but a Donizettian, familiar with the music, can discern the diffrences easily on his own. The most notable examples are that of Maria's cabaletta, "Nella pace del mesto riposo," and the final "Ah! se un giorno da queste ritorte;" both melodically take different courses from the versions we're used to hearing. They're not necessarily better; just different. I find myself preferring the final aria in its commonly heard incarnation, though; it strikes a more fatalistic and higher pitch of tragedy. However, the most striking variant is the finale to Act Two, after Maria has denounced Elisabetta as a "vil bastarda." In many ways the passages are similar, but unlike the wide intervals of high emotions of the usual one we're used to hearing, this one appears to seethe on a much more restrained level. It makes for a very interesting comparison, one which will depend on the taste of the listener.
Alas, the performance itself as a whole leaves much to be desired. This opera needs strong performers and singers of exceptional bel canto skills, and they aren't to be found here.
Sonia Ganassi is the strongest of all the principals, but that does not suffice to that of a sure recommendation. To begin with, Ganassi, billed as a mezzo, has a rather soft-grained voice, not especially wide-ranging on either end; she has a tendency to tighten up on top, and to lack of firm core of chesty resonance on the bottom. Elisabetta needs a forceful, powerful tone capable of strength in declamation, to most of all convey the flashing surges of imperious temperament inherent in the character's vocal writing. For an example of what constitutes an ideal Elisabetta, one may turn to any of Shirley Verrett's live recordings to hear how the role should be sung and portrayed: Verrett's Queen is a vivid, larger-than-life creation, with personality for days, temperament to burn, and a vocal splendor which has rarely been encountered elsewhere. Ganassi (looking uncannily like that of Bernadette Peters) here is simply too girlish in both her tone and countenance - an Adalgisa and Cenerentola parlayed into a royal monarch.
Carmela Remigio, the Maria, is a poor contender for the role, perhaps the least convincing and vocally-ill equipped of all the commercial exponents. The basic core of the tone is often quite beautiful, and at times can shimmer with the peculiar morbidezza singular to Italians. But that tone is not backed with any serviceable or workable technique. The first aria, the haunting "O nube che lieve per l'aria ti aggiri," is plainly, gracelessly sung, no deft trills, turns or nuances etched into the vocal line. Furthermore, Remigio has alarmingly bad breath support: the breaths are incorporated in the wrong places, and there are so many of them, that they break up the line, and all legato and impetus is lost. The vibrato, like many young singers are wont to do, is produced by a quivering jaw, and the tone is often drained of color; moreover, the comfortable range is exceedingly narrow. Particularly jarring is how hoarse, whispery and almost non-existent is Remigio's lower middle register. In the crucial confrontation scene, the lack of any firm core to the middle of the tone renders it ineffective; some of the words are nearly inaudible. This deficiency of a firmly centered tone seriously undermines the emotional pull of the majority of Maria's vividly written music. Worst of all though, Remigio, whether through her own devices or because of the direction, enacts no semblance of a royal figure. Plainly costumed and coiffed, Remigio looks instead like a young lady-in-waiting. Her denunciation to Elisabetta is more like a schoolgirl finally telling off her nasty teacher instead of it being Queen to Queen. There's plenty of that noticeable, determined sincerity throughout, but it does not make up for having no regality, no royal dignity or even depth and maturity to be found in this portrayal, and it leaves an emotional void to the very end. Maria's final moments, which should be overwhelming, has no gradual elevation of tragedy, and it fails to move - a vacuous, empty, uncharismatic performance.
The Leicester, Joseph Calleja, has a beautiful tone and a winning manner, and the Talbot, Riccardo Zanellato, gruff of tone and bearing, do well, but it hardly matters in the face of its ineffective principals. The conductor, Fabrizio Maria Carminati, interviewed
in one of the "Special Features" offerings, speaks of his devotion to the score, and he certainly demonstrates that affinity through a beautiful orchestral reading. But it does not make up for an ineffective and "incomplete" cast.
The scenic tableau is made of of both "traditional" and comtemporary stylistic elements. During the prelude, the two protaganists are made to stand on either side of a big lop-sided grille dangling from the ceiling, pointing at each other, a bit like two lady boxers ready to square off; supposedly this is used to depict the emotional prisons in which the two queens exist. The chorus too is made to sing from behind a grate/grille on the left side of the stage, but otherwise, the scenery has some intriguingly original and atmospheric ideas. The camerawork is absolutely weird. The performance seems to be captured on video, but some tampering has been made to the image quality - as though it were made to be grainy and perhaps more film-like. But how does one explain the rather jerky speed of the images? The sound is fine, but the picture seems to be a half-beat or so behind the aural aspects, lending an unsettling, almost psychedelic quality to it, as though your eyes were not working right. Then there are the angles, and inappropriate shots of things - a hand, a foot, whatever, that has no direct bearing on the plot or story. It's a mess.
The disc is the most user friendly of all, though. It has options for subtitles in 5 languages, several different audio aspects, and a chock-filled booklet. If only it were all used to better purpose than this misguided release.
Bravo Donizetti Theatre
Robert Petersen | Durban, South Africa | 08/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What an excellent production of Maria Stuarda, with excellent singers all round. A wonderful Joseph Calleja at the beginning of his professional career, singing his music with consumate ease. Ganassi is fiery in acting, singing and in her portrayl of the Elizabeth. Remigio has a heavier voice that we are used to hearing in the title role, but it pays well, with the portrayl of the character. And no, it is not only the high notes that make or break the character, as sited by another reviewer. An excellent DVD on all fronts, with bonus features as well."