Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Verdi - Jonathan Miller's Rigoletto|
Actors: John Rawnsley, Marie McLaughlin, John Tomlinson, Arthur Davies, Jean Rigby
Director: John Michael Phillips
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sung in EnglishIn Jonathan Miller's brilliant interpretation of Verdi's opera, the story of Rigoletto unfolds in New York's mob-controlled Little Italy in the 1950's.Rigoletto, a clowning bartender, moves about in a world ... more »
Truly phenomenal production
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This ENO production, directed by Jonathan Miller, is updated and set in New York's Little Italy. The singing is of uniformly high quality but John Rawnsley's performance in the title role is one of the best performances of anyone on film in opera. His rendition of Rigoletto's big aria is absolutely riveting. The English translation works well despite the problem of repeated text common to opera of this period. No detail is overlooked in the updating of the story--that's why the update works so well. I cannot praise this performance enough."
Anthony Clarke | Woodend, Victoria Australia | 11/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This production, by director Elijah Moshinsky for English National Opera, cries out for issue on DVD. It is, quite simply, the best updating and most relevant story-telling one can ever envisage this opera receiving. The entire opera is reset in Mafia-ridden Little Italy in New York, and the consistency and truthfulness to the original intent of the opera is astonishing. This is no updating for updating's sake. It is the work of a master director totally attuned to Verdi's drama. I've played this video often to my children, from about the age of 10 and up, and it is just a riveting introduction to great music and drama. The video is wearing out though -- SO PLEASE, NOW REMASTER FOR DVD! Joseph Losey's feature film presentation of Don Giovanni is also crying out for issue on DVD -- filmed treatment of operas at this quality are rare."
Fantastic production ruined by a truly horrible DVD transfer
Carol Haynes | North Yorkshire UK | 03/29/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this production live at ENO in the 70s and for years wanted to get a copy on VHS or DVD and so was very pleased to see this appear and get a copy. I know that ENO released a VHS tape but it was long deleted and now I know why.
To say I am disappointed is an understatement!
The DVD opens with an interesting introduction from Jonathan Miller on the rational behind the production but as soon as you hear the first chords from the orchestra you know this is a truly awful DVD transfer.
The picture is OK most of the time (though there are too many hand held close ups for my taste and these have a 'shaky' quality about them) but where the DVD really falls down is the audio recording. It says it is in Dolby Digital Stereo but since it was produced in the 1970s by Thames Television this must be a processed version of the original mono recording - I can only assume they must have used a bit rate of about 4 because the quality is truly the worst I have ever heard on any DVD (and I have had some pretty bad ones in the past).
To give you an idea of how terrible it is I can only assume it was recorded by somebody in the back row of the stalls with a 'cheap' 1970s cassette player using the built in microphone and auto noise levelling.
If you had one of these devices you will know precisely what I mean ... the sound is tinny in the extreme, there is absolutely no depth to the orchestral sound or the voices and there appears to be some sort of post production processing going on which almost turns off the orchestra when the singers are singing and then blasts out when they take a breath - the effect is truly hideous and makes the recording almost unbearable to listen to.
For me this DVD provides a fond reminiscence of the sets and staging but I think I would rather view it with the subtitles and the sound muted.
If you want to get a better impression of the original production check out the Channel 4 programme Operatunity (available on the UK Amazon site). The series was a competition for would be opera singers and the final part consists of large extracts of the revival of this production with the two finalists taking the role of Gilda in shifts. The sound quality is very good and you can see the sets. OK it is not the whole opera but it is an infinitely better introduction to what was a brilliantly inventive production.
UPDATE JUNE 2007 ....
I contacted the publisher, Kultur, and asked them what was wrong. They had a bad master tape and tried to obtain a better copy from the original production company. Unfortunately the new copy was just as bad. Kultur replaced my DVD with an alternative from their catalogue.
As far as I know this title has now been deleted from the Kultur catalogue.
All customers should be warned that this would not be worth $0.01 with free postage."
Watch out for new DVD!
Ivan L. Preston | Madison, WI, USA | 03/11/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"None of the other reviews are about the new DVD. I just received that DVD and the sound is unacceptably bad. I taped the opera years ago from a TV broadcast, using rabbit ears, and the sound was excellent. So I think the problem must be with the new edition or with the copy I received. I agree with the other reviewers that this version of Rigoletto is very excellent, and also interestingly novel in the translation, which I find to be a very appropriate although not literal one."