Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Merry Christmas From Milan- Caballe Bruson / Montserrat Caballe Renato Bruson Montserrat Marti Rossana Potenza|
Actor: Renato Bruson
Director: Enrico Castiglione
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Merry Christmas from Milan Featuring: Renato Bruson, Montserrat CaballÚ, Montserrat Marti, Rossana PotenzaConducted by JosÚ Collado, Ezio RojattiDirected by Enrico CastiglioneOrchestra Filarmonica ItalianaProgram J. Massen... more »
For the Devotees...
Claudia N. Davidsen | Ruskin, FL | 09/15/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A disclaimer: Just to get it done, I am reviewing Merry Christmas from Milan in mid-September in southwest Florida where the temperature is in the mid-90s.
I am glad I spent the $18 or $19 on Merry Christmas from Milan, if only for documentary purposes. The release date is 2008. Kultur's usual cheapness being in evidence, there are no program notes; ergo, I don't know when the actual event took place. Bear in mind that Montserrat Caballe turned 70 in 2003 and Renato Bruson turned 70 in 2006. Don't expect these two to sing like they did in the glory days. They share the stage with two very presentable young singers--Rossana Potenza and Montserrat Marti, two veteran conductors--Jose Collado and Ezio Rojatti, and a fine orchestra--Orchestra Filarmonica Italiana. It's worth the money.
Up front, I give 4 stars, because to give 3 would be to discourage the purchase of a decent program. The lack of program notes and a skimpy production notwithstanding, the DVD is worth having. If you don't want to buy it new, buy it used for less $$.
As of this recording, Renato Bruson, while no young buck, is still in decent voice. He has a few off-moments, but generally the intonation is good and he has maintained flexibility. There are no gimmicks, no excuses, no cover-ups. He delivers some good, solid and respectable work in his two solos and one duet with Montse. The interesting programming had Potenza's solo Ave Maria (Mascagni) immediately followed by Bruson's and Caballe's duet Ave Maria (Donizetti). Bruson's solos are Benedictus (Mascagni) and Tantum Ergo (Tosti). Bruson is in relatively advanced age for a performer, but he is a handsome old dude who knows how to put across a song. I am a fan of his voice, find him eminently listenable, and enjoy him in this program.
While Montserrat Caballe is shaky in body and voice, she still knows how to handle herself in this concert, and gives us plenty of notes. Some of them are not so good; some of them are OK; some of them are solid; some echo the supreme beauty of yore. And, Fellow Montse Fans, she will occasionally flash that gorgeous, radiant smile. You know you still love her, and you just want to help her from her seat to the stand and back to her seat. I respect and appreciate her for rolling on out for her public. After all, where can you see her now? Caballe's only solo is Massenet's Extase de la Vierge. It is not the disgrace that you may expect, and she gets through it in pretty good shape. The voice she gives us in some passages is surprisingly strong. Truth be told, I have heard some younger, celebrated sopranos sound worse. Her duet with Bruson is less, but there are still nice moments. Montse's duets with her daughter, Montserrat Jr. are another animal. For us fans, they are emotionally, visually, and--yes--vocally lovely. Enjoy these for what they are. She isn't 40 anymore.
Montserrat Marti has been an enigma to me. I confess to being somewhat predisposed not to enjoy her, probably because of all the nonsense on the internet. In her first solo, the very difficult Et Incarnatus Est (Mozart), there were a couple of intonation problems early on. Keep listening! The girl can sing! (Why was my mind so closed? This is not Mama's voice; the color is very different. Montse's fans probably should not listen to Daughter sing Mama's stuff.) Marti turns in a very good performance in the Mozart, then returns to deliver Pregaria (Alvarez) that I found beautiful and exciting. Again, the duets are lovely items.
Rossana Potenza is a singer with whom I am even less familiar than with Marti. Others of you should jump in here. She is a very pretty young woman with a beautiful voice. The Ave Maria was lovely. The Cantique de Noel (known to us in USA Land as O Holy Night) was just what it should be. One wants to get goose bumps and teary-eyed when hearing it. She built upon her phrases and negotiated all the high notes, and it was what you want it to be. To me, her stage presence leaves a lot to be desired. During one of the Holy Night orchestra passages, Potenza actually reached up and did something to her hair. While seated during other performer's solos, she was caught by the camera fiddling with her wrap. (Students and novice performers pay attention and learn. Watch Monste. Her Majestic Massiveness sits straight and still, with folded hands, so as not to distract from other performers' solo moments. Watch Potenza. Lovely as she is, while seated, she cranes her neck, looks around, and fiddles with her garments. Sad to say, I have noticed a lot of this in live performances lately.)
The production: Merry Christmas from Milan was recorded at the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. I have never been there, but from the VERY FEW shots of the physical setting, I'm guessing that it is beautiful. Why, oh why did Kultur cheap out on this? The possibilities are endless for making this a really "Merry Christmas" offering. Transitions between the musical episodes could be made with more video of the building. For a 2008 release, the buyer would expect some really fine video work. Instead, we get the aforementioned VERY FEW shots. A high school AV class would do better with 3 handheld recorders.
In summary: Even with its shortcomings, I am glad I bought this, and would do it again."