Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mascagni - Cavalleria Rusticana / Verrett Johannson Orani Vespasiani Nova Podic Sienna Opera|
Actors: Shirley Verrett, Krjstan Johannson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA - DVD Movie
James A. Holland | Las Vegas, NV USA | 03/14/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Having seen previous productions, namely the stellar movie version starring Placido Domingo, I must that that I was left uninspired by this production.
Given that this production was staged during the Sienna Music Festival I can only assume that this is by and large a student cast, with the inclusion of a few professionals in the title roles and that's how this opera comes across.
Let me give you the major flaws I've noticed.
As aforementioned, the entire production is very amateur like.
The set is very rudamentary and average in design and the costumes are not authentic to the Sicilian region in which this great piece was originally set.
The sound quality is also not the best. There is a noticeable amount if white noise in the background, especially when viewed at a higher volume, and the sound often distorts when the singers sing more loudly or reach for the high notes.
Same goes for the picture quality. Though attmpts at fading from frame to frame are made, the overall result is disappointing.
Quality is, again, an issue that will be difficult to look beyond.
The picture often gets slightly out of focus and marginally blurry.
None of this would be a big deal were this a production staged and recorded in the mid-70's, but in this digital age one can't help but feel that this production should be of considerably better quality.
On to the acting....and singing.
Mrs. Verrett in the role of Santuzza, does a decent job. Her singing is good and her interpretation of the role (her debut in this Opera) is also decent.
The main shortcomings of her performance are two-fold.
1. She is too old to convincingly portray a scorned, young lover and
2. She tends to overact the role, resorting to excessive grimmacing and sobbing, even during moments when there is no need nor room to do so.
I'd also like to share a few comments about the tenor role played by Kristijan Johannson.
Though I've never heard of this tenor, it can be assumed that he is of some renown in Europe as his singing is quite good.
In fact, his voice is the one saving grace that helps make this production somewhat enjoyable.
His is a strong, clear, lyric voice, with just enough weight to effectively pull off a lirico-spinto part like this.
However, in what seems to be some sort of tradition among too many tenors, his acting is the polar opposite of his singing.
He certainly tries his best, but he too falls victim to overacting and seems unsure when to employ which emotional dramatization.
The rest of the leading cast was average. Not bad, but also nothing overly impressive.
I should also tell you that the previous reviewer was correct in his assesment that the orchestra pretty much dragged the entire score along at an unfathomably slow pace.
This, of course, did nothing to help this much maligned prodution.
All in all, this production of Cavalleria Rusticana would be respectable were it an all student, college level performance. However, given that this is supposed to be a professional production, with "name" singers, this production fails at almost every point.
I've given this a 2 star rating only because it's the only production of this Opera currently available on DVD. My hope is that the film version starring Domingo will soon become available so I can sell this one.
In the meantime, I shall have to make to with a rather substandard Cavalleria Rusticana.
Joseph Hart | Visalia, CA United States | 09/04/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I love this short Victorian verismo opera, have had it with Pagliacci (both with Callas) for centuries. And I thought Verrett and Johannson were great. I think the music (which is tunefulish) is very dramatic and beautiful. However, I thought this performance of it was very bad, and the one act opera wasn't even paired with Pagliacci, which I think is customary. After the revelation to Alfio (and also including Santuzza's desperate pleading with Turiddu, which came before that), the music picked up force and the show pulled itself together. Before this, however, it was dismal and drab. Lucia was at pains to find something to do with herself. The chorus was ineffectual and weak musicwise, and seemed just to wander vaguely in the background, some people smiling sometimes, some seeming to talk, and generally being a drag on the whole affair. Typical of 19th Century Italian opera, this was chock full of Christianity, but for a change, it was pivotal to the plot, almost. Santuzza believed she was "damned" because she was abandoned by her lover to whom she was not married. I was very disappointed, but will no doubt watch it again. Even the orchestra seemed to perk up about half or 2/3 of the way through. Incidentally, Verrett introduced the thing by telling the plot. I didn't know anymore about it when she was done than I did before she started, including the ending. For brighter souls than I who may not be familiar with this opera, I suggest skipping this track so as not to spoil the story."