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Montserrat Caballe - The Art of Bel Canto
Montserrat Caballe - The Art of Bel Canto
Actors: Il Pirata, Anna Bolena, Roberto Devereux
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2005     0hr 43min

VAI DVD 4308Music of Granados, Donizetti, Bellini. Orchestre Philharmonique de l"ORFT/Cillario. 43 min.


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Movie Details

Actors: Il Pirata, Anna Bolena, Roberto Devereux
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Classical
Studio: Video Artists Int'l
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 01/25/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1966
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 0hr 43min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)

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Movie Reviews

Caballe in excelsis!
cherubino | Houston, Texas United States | 02/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It's such a shame that Amazon has no picture or description of this DVD from VAI. I saw this DVD in the window of a classical shop here in Houston, and snatched it up right away. The program includes footage from a televised recital from 1966 that appeared on the radio and television in France. This is only about a year after her star turn as Lucrezia Borgia, and, as you can imagine, she is simply ravishing. Filmed in black and white, Montserrat is also physically stunning, with her hair done nicely, and those stunning, large, expressive eyes.

The entire program was a mixture of zarzuela (some goyescas and selections from La Vida Breve) and three extended arias from bel canto operas. Here, on the DVD, they only show one piece of zarzuela, a goyesca called El Ruisenor. But, the real treasures are all left intact. They are Vivi Ingrato from Roberto Devereux, Al Dolce Guidami from Anna Bolena, and Col Sorriso d'Innocenza from Il Pirata, all hallmarks of Montsy's golden legacy as queen of the bel canto revival.

Really, each piece is a master class in bel canto singing. As you can imagine, she floats some truly lovely trills and roulades, all which leave you enraptured in total ecstasy. It has been often said that Luciano Pavarotti "made love" with his voice; I think very much the same of Montserrat Caballe.

The true standout in this cadre of bel canto gems is Al Dolce Guidami. Every weapon in Caballe's arsenal is unleashed- the creamy tone; soft, ethereal pianissimi; delicious, meticulous phrasing; perfectly executed fortissimi; observance of the composer's dramatic markings; sublime interpretation; and, above all, the pure joy that she feels as she sings. Although this is a recital, she fully acts out the text of the aria. Those large, expressive eyes grow wider, and when she sings "infelice son io", she turns her head, and gives that look of true madness. As the magnificent aria draws to an end, she looks truly heartbroken, her eyes on the verge of tears, nearly trembling. Her singing is nothing short of divine, as pure and sweet as a harp or dulcimer. Truly, this is a grade-A, bar none, to the moon and back Montserrat Caballe performance.

The orchestra is a tad amateur, but adequate. But Montsy is the star, and oh, how she shines.

I hope I have convinced all the Caballe fans out there to buy this DVD!"
Early Caballe Bonanza
operabuff | Bronx, NY USA | 03/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is apparently the earliest known visual record of Caballe's singing, a French TV broadcast of a concert in 1966. Contrary to a previous review, there's no zarzuela here, although there is the aria "The Maja and the Nightingale" from Granados' only opera, "Goyescas". This is followed by arias from Donizetti and Bellini operas. This concert took place a year after Caballe's spectacular rise to fame replacing Horne as Lucrezia Borgia in concert form at Carnegie Hall.

The whole concert is astounding, but particularly so in the context that, apart from an aria in her graduation recital as a student in Barcelona, Caballe had never sung bel canto until that fated Lucrezia Borgia in New York the previous year (and I believe when this French TV broadcast took place she had yet to sing a fully staged production of any bel canto work). She was obviously born to sing this repertoire. Here we hear her voice in the full bloom and glory of youth: gorgeous sound, endless breath, effortless top, and those incredible high pianissimi which one critic called "the most beautiful sound this side of the angels". All of this coupled with star charisma to spare, and all the right instincts musically and dramatically. She performs here with a passion and intensity that was not always present later in her career.

On the negative side, the phrasing and intonation can be sloppy at times (this is particularly true in the "Ana Bolena" scena), and at this stage in her career her delivery could be marred by excessive use of glottal attacks. This is a habit that she corrected, and later in her career used glottals much more judiciously. All in all, the breathtaking beauty and expresiveness of the singing in this concert, and the bravura and extravagant technique displayed, make these flaws recede to the unimportant.

The pick up orchestra starts chaotically in the Granados but slowly warms up to more acceptable playing in the last two arias. Cillario is a sympathetic conductor, with a good feel for bel canto, but with a sluggish, fuzzy baton technique.

There exists very little visual documentation of Caballe in her prime, so this DVD is a veritable treasure. A must have for anyone who loves great singing."
That Beautiful Woman with the Shiny Black Hair!
Impostazione | New York City Area | 04/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The early art of Montserrat Caballe is captured here beautifully. In later years, Caballe would become more graceful, her movements would slow down, her voice would become under perfect control. In short, she was not the finished artist that she became some years after this wonderful concert. However, the sound of her voice, the beauty of her face, and that distinctive European naturalness would never be better than on this DVD.

The truly bewitching beauty of the Spanish song left me dazed, and Il Pirata belongs to Caballe alone, for who could compete with the legato lines and grace notes a la Caballe in Col Sorriso? Her chest register is completely stunning. Yet, Caballe is not a voice for everybody. Her higher range is limited, which she admitted, and she never dared in this video to hang on the higher notes. Her coloratura, while wonderful can't dazzle like some of her contemporaries, neither does she possess the richest quality or intensity of tone. Whatever the case may be, Senora Caballe was a great artist and this video is a complete joy.

The orchestra seems to be on vacation.

This is a magnificent document, long overdue!
Caballe revisited
J. Anderson | Monterey, CA USA | 05/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a first rate look at Montserrat Caballe singing in 1966 at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The sound is good throughout even with the unavoidable technical limitations intact. Apart from that, it's interesting to listen to this singer at the period just before she fully entered her art. I found myself both wanting the fully opened Caballe and interested to watch her seek it for herself even as she sings. For instance, 'Al dolci guidami' (disappointingly) lacks the later studio versions' knowing, but only as if she merely hadnt yet discovered what is already there. The singing throughout however knows no bounds, as careful as her performance is. The orchestra is fairly shabby in its strictness but not its devotion, which is clear at all times. A black and white film static and conventional, but the cameras are good to those who want a close up look at Caballe singing; some beautiful shots of the sound seeming to visually appear leaving her body. Those interested in that sort of thing will see it immediately and be glad. Whatever else, it's an intriguing look at the musical art of a natural wonder. She's so much more than a singer - Caballe is a musician. THAT distinction is fully formed in this recital dvd."