Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Placido Domingo, Katia Ricciarelli, Justino Díaz, Petra Malakova, Urbano Barberini
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Legendary Italian director Franco Zeffirelli (Romeo and Juliet) and renowned tenor Placido Domingo unite their mighty talents for this lavish production of composer Giuseppe Verdi's classic opera based on Shakespeare's tim... more »
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Opera is so misunderstood
operaman3 | new york | 09/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As one who directs opera for a living, I am dismayed by some of the comments by other reviews here. They sound like they were written by college students trying to impress themselves with their new-found intelligence. They could never dream of making a film on this scale. I was greatly moved when I first saw this film. Yes, the willow song is missing. Why? Because it doesn't (as beautiful as it is) further the dramatic story. Would I cut it from the staged version? No. But, what people many involved in the field often forget is that opera was always intended as a synthesis of the dramatic and musical arts. It is NOT just about the music. A good director tells a story. In addition, telling a story in film is not the same as telling a story on the stage. When people see this film (and I have shown it to many) they love it! They even weep at the end. Of course these are people who have no preconceived notions or generally have not seen the staged version. It does its job. It is absolutely beautiful, powerful, breathtaking and dramatic. Iago getting harpooned was a stroke of genius. We all wanted it. Composers write the music and do not pretend to write the staging. So what--if it wasn't written in the score as a dramatic notation. The film did not draw attention to the director but had the opposite effect--it drew us into a different world and made me personally forget that I was watching a film. That is the mark of a good director. Were their flaws? Sure. But all artists are flawed. Get over it. This is a monumental work. From a dramtic standpoint, I prefer it to most staged productions. If you want something from a musical standpoint, get the CD. Those who hate the fact that opera is a synthesis, should stay out of the opera house. The art form has been ruined by these kinds of people (especially at the Met) where fat singers dying of consumption "park and bark" their way through a piece intended to be dramatic--where two singers will stand on opposite sides of the stage and sing undying love to one another without any connection at all. Bravo to directors who are not afraid to take risks and actully tell a believable story."
A real missed opportunity
albertatamazon | East Point, Georgia USA | 03/31/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If Franco Zeffirelli hadn't tampered with the music and made a couple of awful directorial decisions,this could have been a legendary film of a great opera. The singing and the voices themselves are breathtaking,and the acting is also quite good. The print I saw,however (on cable) has a curious flaw---the voices and orchestra (the famed LaScala Orchestra) are all an octave (or maybe a semi-octave) lower than they should be, and this is NOT true of the film's soundtrack album. But at least the film corrects the album's greatest flaw,of making the orchestra practically blast you out of your seat while the voices sound like they're in some kind of tunnel or drainpipe. The disastrous decisions include cutting important small bits of the opera,inserting the ballet music of the French stage production into the opening celebration, where it does NOT belong,and the most hideous mutilation of all, cutting the awesomely heartrending and beautiful "Salce" (The Willow Song), Desdemona's most important solo aria,from the film. (It can be heard on the soundtrack album--Zeffirelli cheats us by having his singers and orchestra pre-record the ENTIRE opera, so that it can be released complete on a soundtrack album, then cutting chunks of the opera only in the actual film.)
This isn't the only crime Zeffirelli commits against this most beautiful of Verdi operas. He leaves in or inserts sound effects and unnecessary flashbacks right into the middle of his arias,so that while Domingo and Ricciarelli sing their love duet,we see and hear,in a flashback to Otello's childhood,marauding soldiers on galloping horses snatching Otello from his mother while she screams hysterically.(This over the beautiful music and singing!)
On the plus side, Domingo, Ricciarelli and Diaz are memorable, and the photography,sets,and location filming are beautiful."
Great or Horrible?
Mark | United States | 04/08/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Well, to start, I am huge fan of Otello, Domingo and Zeffirelli. But somehow I was disappointed (sometimes a lot!) with this movie. Before I bought the DVD I had read some reviews, and most reviewers were chocked by the cuts in the score and I always thought: big deal. But when I watched it I understood: THERE IS ABOUT 25 min OF CUTS!!! Most of Otellos (Levine's, Karajan's, Toscanini's) are about 2h15. This one is 1h55 with over 10 min of music and ballet that Verdi never wrote (You do the math, and remember that Maazel's tempi are much slower than Toscanini's). Also, not only are these cuts of arias or ensembles, but even worse: Phrases are just cut off here and there throughout the Opera. The 1000 words allowed for the review won't be enough to enumerate them. Why??? A reviewer argued that it's to enhance the drama!! Come on, are you going to convince me that the finale of Act II (Si, pel Ciel) needs enhancement. Even this part is cut, and worse it's "Cut IN HALF AND I MEAN IN HALF" as another reviewer pointed.So what does go right?
Well the scenary is amazing and I mean amazing. But what about the performance (this is Opera after all). Well again much can be said. Domingo once said that his performance was very much influenced by Zeffirelli. He wanted him to go into some deep barytonal voice (à la Ramon Vinay of you will), and the performance suffers.
Maazel conducting is far from being ideal. Should he be blamed? Well yes, like most of the singers who agreed to represent Zeffirelli's Otello and not Verdi's.Finally, one of the reviewer said that Zeffirelli tried to "adapt" the opera and those who dislike is are not open-minded. Oh Please! When you buy Verdi's Otello, you are expecting to hear some of the most beautiful music ever written adapted to one of the most successfull libretto and won't expect the director to cut off about 25 min of the score.It is normal to be disappointed. With a cast like this one and a director like Zeffirelli (his Traviata, Cav. Rusticana, and Traviata are awesome) we could have had the most successful opera movie Ever....Finally, I need to point out that one who doesn't know Otello "as is" could be thrilled with this version. It is after all a real beautiful movie."
Different medium, different needs
Scott Chamberlain | Minneapolis, MN United States | 01/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, this is not a true stage production (is there ever a "true" production? Operas are edited/transposed/cut for the stage all the time). This is a movie. It is intended for a broader audience, and makes the most of different strengths and weaknesses of a different medium. I'm always amused by those who are outraged by the "changes" made to the story. Please! Some of the best parts of Shakespeare's "Othello" (including its entire first act)were left out of Verdi's libretto. And Shakespeare's Iago never delivers a speech anything like the famous "Credo." So for me, cries of "tampering" fall pretty flat. Verdi knew (as does Zeffirelli) that you have to *adapt* the story to the new medium. The important question is: is this adaptation a good movie? Yes. The acting, the visuals, the pacing makes the story and the characters come alive. And like his work in "Romeo and Juliet," Zeffirelli makes the Renaissance almost painfully beautiful to see. I imagine there are many who will respond more favorably to this treatment than a traditional staging. This really is a work of art, and movie buffs shouldn't hesitate. There are several taped stage productions, and if that's more to your taste, check out the Domingo/Solti DVD."