Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Sherrill Milnes, Anna Tomowa-Sintow, Vasile Moldoveanu, Paul Plishka
Director: G. Verdi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Led by supreme Verdi baritone Sherrill Milnes, Verdi's rarely staged masterpiece in a performance that represents the Metropolitan Opera at its finest.
Withstands The Passage of Time
David D. Dollinger | Pasadena, CA | 12/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Met released its most recent Simon first and only now is releasing the 1984 production. I suspect that the newer production was released first because of the presence of Domingo. The Doge, Vladimir Chernov, had a short lived Met career; I had read that the voice was small for the house. On a DVD this is hardly a factor, but the somewhat superficial performance is, plus the fact that Chernov clearly did not have a history of Verdi rolls under his belt. Besides Domingo the other main virtue of the newer DVD is Robert Lloyd as Fiesco. Although hardly a marquee "name" the man is a great artist, possessed of a superior instrument and a high degree of musical intelligence.
Even so, I decided to go for this 1984 production, borrowed from Chicago (and I think the SF borrowed it in the 70's). It is architecturally quite grand, but the producer, Capobianco made so many changes that Pizzi wanted his name removed. For the present purposes this is really quite academic and is neither here nor there as far as making a choice. Obviously I felt there were virtues here that didn't exist in the later set. Milnes had had a long history of Verdi roles; that expertise is evident on this DVD. Paul Plishka, the Fiesco, is now doing comprimario roles but in 1984 his voice was in great shape and he almost matches Lloyd. However one of the great reasons for owning this DVD is Anna Tomowa Sintow. No, she is not Italian, and yes even though she was relatively young when this flim was made she looks somewhat mataronly. But the voice is glorious, blooming as she ascends the scale, a quality one used to associate with Italian sopranos of the past. Her opening aria, Come in questora is exquisite as is her duet with Milnes. Her contributions to the Council Chamber scene are what is needed in this great ensemble as her voice soars oveer the chorus and soloists. Lyrics such as Te Kanewa and Freni have no problems for the opening aria and the duet, but lack the thrust that a spinto has in this role. For any doubters of Anna T-S's credentials as a Verdian I refer them to an Aida recorded in Munich, conducted by Muti and co-starring Domingo. Although the rest of the cast is German, it is a "hot" performance and Domingo tops all his studio performances as Rhadames. To my ears Anna T-S is the best Aida on CD. This performance did enjoy a commercial release but it probably difficult to find now. In any event I recommend it as I do this Simon.
None of the DVD's of Simon are perfect and there is always a "fly in the pomade" as the Brits say. Here we have a Rumanian tenor with a rather leathery sound, but at least he doesn't wobble and looks the part. Musically much of the role appears to escape him, but God knows I have seen worse. Gabriele is surely one of Verdi's least interesting tenor roles--a pity that Domingo was not available at the time. The only real down side to this performance is the Paolo; I know this is hardly a major role but clearly one of some dramatic significance. Leonard Warren was a Paolo to Tibbett's Simon. I am sure other examples exist. Not so here; the artist in question is Richard Clarke who is utterly anonymous; vocally satisfactory, dramatically a cipher. This is not a deal breaker and with three top performances I recommend this DVD, caveats noted."
My favorite Milnes role!!
Operafilly | Fallbrook, Ca United States | 07/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tho I'm an opera fanatic, this is the only opera and only with Milnes where I cry every time at that last duet with Fiesco. Milnes portrayal is so far beyond other baritones......even ones technically better. He makes me feel the torment of this character so deeply, where the other miss all the nuance that makes Milnes great. I also heard him in concert and he got to me so deeply I couldn't stand. My knees felt like water.
The soprano is very good, but has a sort of rattly resonance some may not like.
The tenor sucks, but he does get all the notes.
Paolo is very good with a better voice than you would expect in a small role.
Plishka.......Just before that last duet that tears me up, Simone informs Fiesco of the identify of his long lost granddaughter. You see old Fiesco, kept strong these 20 years by his hatred, suddenly melt into an old man.
Got to stop. I'm crying just thinking about it."