Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Verdi - Il Trovatore / Cura Hovorostovsky Villarroel Naef Rizzi Covent Garden|
Actors: José Cura, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, VerÃ³nica Villarroel, Yvonne Naef
Director: Brian Large
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
José Cura, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Verónica Villarroel and Yvonne Naef lead the star cast of Verdi's blazingly passionate opera, in Elijah Moshinsky's new Royal Opera House production co-produced with Teatro Real Madrid, with... more »
Great voices, weird staging
Rosomax | Boulder, CO United States | 09/17/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Indeed, the principals are ideally cast here. Dmitri Hvorostovsky's suave, evil, yet somehow still-human Count nearly steals the show. He's far superior to all the Counts recorded. Jose Cura gives a believable performance as Manrico, even though he pays more attention to acting than to music. For instance, "Ah si, ben mio" is a bit choppy in sound, but acted out very well.
I really enjoyed Veronica Villaroel's Leonora. Like Cura, she put more emphasis on acting, but she managed some of the most difficult music with excellent artistry and skill. Brava!
Yvonne Naef looked and sang an ideal Azucena.
What kept distracting me was the staging. First of all, it looks like late 19th century Italy (vs. Austria), making Leonora's Tale D'Amor (a knight with an unmarked shield came, etc) along with many other story details quite improbable. Ferrando has a shaved head and looks too young to remember the events of the old days passed. Now, for the ugly:
1. When Azucena is captured, the "warriors" nearly rape (!) her onstage. This is inappropriate for Verdi's delicate, highly melodious music. Neither works the scene when Leonora and Manrico are in some sort of hay stack (okay, call me a purist but I thought it was low brow theater).
2. The strange sabre (schlager) dueling (the producers made a big fuss about it) does not add any value. The "fighters" look like made-up ballet dancers of some sort, they're wearing leather trappings more appropriate for a cult dance club they way Hollywood depicts them). Either include some real sabre or foil fencing or don't bother with "authentications" of this sort.
3. During the famous Anvil chorus, I surely did not see any anvils. (And Manrico smoked a cigar!)
4. Finally, when telling her hounting tale, Azucena is supposed to be pointing at a fire, or a place where there once was a fire. Needless to say, nothing of the kind is at sight. She just has to point at an empty space. Hmm...Throughout the whole performance, I kept wishing for a traditional (yes) staging, so that it would be more believable.
Dante Ferretti is a well-known set designer for the movies and theater, but while opera staging can be minimalist it should not take away from the story.
I suggest getting this DVD for the great singing, most notably the wonderfully done Miserere and Il Balen. Carlo Rizzi does a splendid job, although a bit too brisk at some moments.
The DVD itself has a pretty good quality, but the booklet does not list the supporting roles, which is a shame because the singers gave exciting performances."
John G. Gleeson Sr. | Frederic, Mi USA | 11/21/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As a long time Verdi fan, I looked forward to this DVD with great hopes. I was looking for a version that did not have either Pavarotti or Domingo in the title role and that utilized digital technology to provide good home viewed opera. Obviously, from the title line, my hopes were not realized.
First of all, this is a cut version of Verdi's work; it is incomplete. After all these years of including every note that the maestro composed, I had hoped that the older, truncated versions of the score had been trashed. Disappointment number one!
Second, Jose Cura in the title role of Manrico has trouble with vocal technique. He forces a "covered" or head tone far too low in the middle register, as low as e-flat in some instances. The tone produced is plain ugly. He can act, though.
Third, soprano Veronica Villarroel is just not a "Verdi soprano". Oh, she sings with some excellent sensitivity, once she gets warmed up, but she is no Leontyne Price by a long shot. Ms. Villarroel would do well enough in bel canto, but lacks the vocal depth to do justice to Verdi.
Fourth, the staging is horrible! The convent scene looks like an electrical power station; the firearms carried by Manrico's men include flintlock rifles and bolt action ones. The second scene contains the famous "Anvil Chorus", but there are no anvils, and no fire where there is supposed to be one during Azucena's aria, "Stride la vampa".
The plusses are there, but not enough to outweigh the negatives. Hvorostovsky is the best Count di Luna I have ever seen, and is vocally second only to the incomparable Leonard Warren. The conductor, chorus and orchestra all do very well, and the Digital technology is excellent throughout.
However, my advice is to save your money and wait for another version. At the rate that operas are being issued these days, it should not be long before someone like TDK gives us a Trovatore to rave about. Until then, enjoy some of the othere great operas that are available here."
Count di Luna's Show
bunburina | United States | 04/21/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This performance was filmed on May 3, 2002 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. It was Mr. Hvorostovsky's first outing as Count di Luna. What a Count di Luna he was. His singing of di Luna made the usual baritone villain come alive with such passion.(Hint: the best sung cabaletta of the night was not "Di quella pira", but "Per me ora fatale". Masculinity personified.) Nowadays nobody can convey complicated emotions through singing more eloquently than Mr. Hvorostovsky. It was so evident in this performance. Just for this reason alone, this dvd is a must. But the dvd has much more to offer. There was a very well sung but rather restrained Azucena by Yvonne Naef. Her voice was strong and beautiful. Ms. Villarroel got points for her efforts. As for Mr. Cura, his vision for Manrico was "Latino macho man". Well, Mr. Cura succeeded just as that. He forgot that Manrico was also a poet. Even after countless viewings of the dvd, I still cannot control the urge to shake Leonora to her senses. Maestro Rizzi's tempi were on the fast side, so it made the opera sound more like a fast paced action "movie". Overall, the opera was very exciting to watch. (Expect some little surprises in the production.) I showed it to people who did not watch operas and the responses were very positive. The quality of the dvd is excellent. Both the sound and pictures are very clear. Of course, it comes with the extra features. Bravo to BBC-Opus Arte for an excellent job bringing this dvd to us. I hope someday someone will produce a dvd of "Eugene Onegin" with Mr. Hvorotovsky as the cad. Please do this soon before Mr. Hvorostovsky moves on to all those juicy Verdi roles."
Good singing with great acting and great sound!
jjbraham | Mexico D.F. | 04/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After almost falling asleep with the Met's production of Il Trovatore (despite some great singing), I was very pleased with this production. The singing is very good, specially Hovorostovsky's Count di Luna. The only somewhat weak singing came in my opinion from Villaroel's Leonora, who is not the right type of soprano for the role, and cannot cope well with Verdi's difficult score. However, her singing is very emotional, as is the case with the rest of the cast. The sets, even though transported to the nineteenth century, are wonderful (specially compared to the Met's nonexistent and boring sets) as are the costumes. In fact I find the period change to be a welcome change to the traditional staging. As other reviewers have mentioned, it gives the production a film-like feel.Rizzi's direction is very exciting and the 5.1 DD sound is very very good. Special praise to the chorus! Far more exciting than the Met's, this production is highly recommended!!"