Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Verdi - Stiffelio / Downes Carreras Malfitano Royal Opera Covent Garden|
Actors: Jose Carreras, Gwynne Howell, Gregory Yurisich, Adele Paxton, Robin Leggate
Director: Brian Large
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Stiffelio shows Giuseppe Verdi on the brink of greatness (his next opera would be Rigoletto) but falling short of the full recognition he deserves. The opera is not problem-free, but it is, musically and dramatically, b... more »
A Splendid and Satisfying Performance
John G. Gleeson Sr. | Frederic, Mi USA | 01/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stiffelio is considered "early Verdi" to musiclogists who classify things, but, in reality, it is a final transition between the maestro's earlier (but most enjoyable) works, and the mature craftsmanship of Rigoletto. Preceded by Luisa Miller (q.v.), there is more dramatic intensity and story line than in the earlier works. The plot centers around Stiffelio, a minister, who discovers that his wife, Mina, has been unfaithful. While the 19th century approach to dishonoring father and husband may be dated to some, the fact is that in watching this opera, the viewer will inevitably be caught up in the story and characters. The singers are generally fine. Catherine Malfitano is not only an exceptional soprano, but an accomplished actress as well. The facial expressions, the use of her hands and all the body mechanics are simply wonderful. I am unsure as to whether Jose Carreras was about to be diagnosed with lieukemia, or had gone into remission when he made this recording. In either case, his portrayal of the title character, in my opinion, would be hard to beat. He is fully in command of his instrument and brings life and dramatic intensity to his role. Particularly good is Gregory Yurisch in the role of Stankar, Mina's father. Here we have the third in Verdi's moving father-daughter duets (Giovanna D'Arco and Luisa Miller were earlier),the emotionally charged qualities of which many trace to the loss of the composer's first wife and baby daughters in 1840. The rest of the cast are equally fine. A surprise to me was the quality of the conducting. I never considered Sir Edward Downes to be a leading interpreter of Verdi's music. Well, he is in this performance, and as such, presents the music very well indeed. The tape to disc transfer is very good, as is the quality of the sound. As I have noted in other reviews, DVD performances of opera are really the next best thing to a live performance. Stiffelio is not performed often, so whether you live near a performing arts center or not, this DVD may be the only chance to experience it. If you are, as I am, a fan of Verdi, this is a must buy. If you want to see how good opera is on DVD or are new to Verdi, buy it. It's a fine effort."
Rare Verdi - a mixed bag
email@example.com | Australia | 06/10/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This rare Verdi work has been re- introduced again by Covent Garden with a starry line up of principles to make up for the work's lack of unity in Verdi's own generic conventions( to be later developed in works such as Aida and Othello). Catherine Malfitano sings well as the adultress- singing tastefully as well as powerfully. Jose Carreras' voice has hardened and aged over the years, but this has added to the dramatic moments within the opera. Regardless of the histronics- his interpretation is very musical and dramatically convincing. The varying tone colours produced at the end of Act 2 are forever indicative of Carreras' creative interpretation. The conducting is somewhat rigid, but this is a singer's opera rather than a conductor's one( the orchestra plays less of an atmospheric role than in some of verdi's later works)"
PhantomOfTheOpera | Norway | 10/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There has already been said a lot about this dvd and I can only second those reviewers who praise this opera; both the composer and the singers have done a wonderful job. This opera doesn't contain any show-stopping arias, but the music throughout the entire opera is really beautiful.
Catherine Malfitano is perfect as the adulteress Lina. You can easily see that she's feeling sick to her stomach while she's waiting for Stiffelio to discover her betrayal. Her singing is also very good; the duets with her father and Stiffelio are brilliant.
José Carreras sings the role of the minister Stiffelio. His singing is wonderful; his soft notes are still giving me goose-flesh. In my opinion he's also a very good actor; projecting the inner demons of Stiffelio perfectly when he suspects that his wife hasn't been faithful while he was away. You can see all the different feelings in his face; even if only for a short second. There's also a sweet moment when Stiffelio is giving presents to some children that have been brought to greet him after his return; you'll see him sitting down on a chair giving the present to a little girl; giving her a short, encouraging smile and stroking her face. I am willing to bet that this gesture wasn't Stiffelios' - it was Carreras'.....
Gregory Yurisich as Stankar is also very good as the dishonoured father. He has a voice that's pleasant listening to and his acting is very believable.
Raffaele is the only one I have real complaints about. I have to admit that Robin Leggate is far from my favourite singer and this performance doesn't change my opinion of him, unfortunately. He has a nasal voice which make it slightly unpleasant listening to. Up till now I've only heard him singing and never seen him acting, but I felt he gave a weak impression as Lina's lover. And when he's stroking Lina's neck and afterwards is looking at his hands it looks as if he's checking that he doesn't have any dirt underneath his fingernails instead of how he really should be looking at them; with affection because they had just been caressing a beautiful woman that he's in love with.
The rest of the cast is adequate and they're putting in a fairly good performance. This dvd is absolutely worth having in any opera collection.
C. Boerger | Columbus, OH USA | 01/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Now that the score to Verdi's Stiffelio has been rediscovered, the opera should be recognized as a great dramatic work and performances should be frequent, but unfortunately this is not the case. Verdi's mature career did not begin with Rigoletto, and operas such as Luisa Miller and this one prove that point. In fact, the only weak aspect of this opera is the overture, which, despite being a fairly enjoyable piece of music with some moments of Verdian brilliance, is overlong, and seems a little facile, relying too much on standard uninspired Donizettian conventions. In addition, it seems incongruous to the dark themes and music of the actual opera as a whole. Stiffelio would probably be a superior work without the overture, but that is a minor quibble because this is a great piece of music drama that breaks some of the conventions of the time, being perhaps less reliant on the aria-cabaletta structure than even Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata!
This production is magnificent, with Catherine Malfitano proving herself a great singing-actress. Her performance on this disc should be studied by all aspiring Verdian sopranos. Jose Carreras is a better singer than actor, his tendency to stretch out his arms like a Broadway crooner is a little distracting and unnecessary, but what singing! Carreras is the least celebrated of the three tenors, but this performance makes you wonder why. And despite some moments of overacting, he does do a good job of facially projecting his character's angst. The supporting cast is great, so is the orchestra and conducting. Elijah Moshinsky(stage director) and Brian Large(video director) are fabulous as usual. This is another auspicious production in the Royal Opera House's DVD collection."