Some exciting moments from the opera
jim_sf | San Francisco, CA United States | 02/06/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Memories of Ed's "really big shooooe" may summon up images of Topo Giggio and Senor Wences, but Sullivan was primarily known for presenting the best talent from the New York stage, including night club, Broadway, and opera. This DVD gives us 2 hours of headliners primarily from the Met performing arias and duets from roles that they performed in New York. Most of these selections seem to be from the 60's (no dates are identified), and a few seem to be from the 50's. Almost all are performed concert-style (without sets and costumes).Some of the most compelling segments are Callas' Vissi d'arte (Tosca) and Lily Pons' Gavotte (Mignon), two of the few selections filmed with costumes and sets. Callas' dramatic gifts are legendary, and Pons proves to be dramatically effective in her own way, singing and moving with ease and charm. Even at this late point in her career, she generates a lot of excitement. Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne trill together in Mira o Norma, and Sutherland solos in Sempre libera (Traviata) and Quando rapita (Lucia). A young Beverly Sills brings her considerable coloratura skills to O luce di quest' anima (Linda di Chamounix). Richard Tucker gives a moving rendition of Vesti la giubba (Pagliacci), and Anna Moffo is captivating in Il regimento (Daugher of the Regiment) and La Ballatella (Pagliacci).Roberta Peters and Robert Merrill seem to have been frequent guests, and they certainly know how to connect with Sullivan's audience. Peters sings arias from The Barber of Seville, Traviata, Lakme, and Gounod's Romeo and Juilet, and Merrill sings arias and duets from The Barber of Seville, Forza, Traviata, and a medley of arias from Aida, Traviata, and Carmen. I was somewhat disappointed with Dorothy Kirsten, a long-time favorite of mine. Famed for her Puccini heroines, she sings Un bel di (Butterfly) and partners with Franco Corelli for Soave fanciulla (Boheme), but neither piece shows her at her best.There are several repeats. We get three renditions of Vissi d'arte (Callas, Leontyne Price, and Birgit Nilsson), two of Un bel di (Dorothy Kirsten and Eileen Farrell), and two of Pace pace mio dio (Nilsson and Farrell). Farrell sings Pace pace mio dio (Forza) with commitment and passion, but an overly arty visual concept proves rather distracting.Many of these selections are excellent, and it is exciting to see some of the Met's best singers of the 50's and 60's."
This is not that bad!
B. Porter | 07/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ok, so Callas isn't that great, and you may not like Sutherland (neither do I), but that's no reason to give this SUPERB collection only two stars (equivalent to a "D", poor). The rest of the selections showcase superstars at the peak of their powers, with the exception of Lily Pons, who was past her prime (but was in really, really good voice for her age). Leontyne Price sang a thrilling and heartfelt Vissi D'arte. I love looking at her mouth and tongue when she sings hehe. Roberta Peters, in my opinion, was one of the top 3 performers of this DVD. She sang a joyful, bouncy Una Voce Poco Fa, complete with high F at the end; an excellent "Waltz" from Romeo and Juliet, truly one the best renditions I've EVER heard (lyrically sweet but full of swagger); and a great bell song from Lakme (Peters in her prime had an extraordinary top range). My personal favorite is Beverly Sills' O luce di quest'anima. Now THAT is what coloratura fireworks are! Lots of fast notes, and abounding high notes! Sills had exceptional coloratura ability that exceeded EVERY other coloratura soprano I've heard, including Sutherland, Gruberova, Jo, Anderson, etc. In her prime, her fioritura was unmatchable and she had easy high F's.
Birgit Nilsson was always in peak vocal condition and sang a more lyrical Pace Pace, which I don't mind at all. It's actually kind of nice. And of course, singing her signature Vissi D'arte, it's always pure perfection! No one can toss off such a ringing B flat like that! Eileen Farrel, an underrated and highly underappreciated soprano, gets to show off her stuff and sings two arias extremely well. She had the perfect spinto voice for Un Bel Di, and what a thrilling B flat at the end! And it looks so effortless too! She just opens her mouth and there it is! (unlike Leontyne Price, who shows a sign of effort and hard work in her face getting a Bflat in her vissi darte). Farrell also sings an excellent Pace Pace, more powerful than Nilsson's, and very very beautiful to listen to! Anna Moffo isn't one of my favorite sopranos, but she does some great singing. Her regimento selection is kinda seductive (see especially HOW seductive she looks, with her eyelashes batting, and how she plays with her dress), and her Ballatella is one of hte best I've heard. There are duets galore in this DVD. My favorite is the duet from La Forza. Merrill's and Peerce's voices blend so well together, and with this meltingly powerful music, it's absolutely exciting! Peerce at that age and singing that well, now that is amazing, too. Roberta Peters and Merrill sing a lovely duet from Traviata. My second favorite duet is Tebaldi and Corelli in Vicino a Te. I love this music very much, and to have these two legendary and sublime voices weave it, words can't describe the beauty of the result. I think Tebaldi's voice sounds better with Corelli's than Del Monaco's, and wish the former two sung together more often. I'm not too crazy over the duet with Dorothy Kirsten and Corelli in O soave fanciulla. Corelli's voice has too much spinto to sing Rodolfo's music. The singing in the duet is just fine, but not as lyrically as I prefer. Sutherland and Horne team up once again, and come out again with a beautiful duet. Like Tebaldi and Corelli, and Peerce and Merrill, the two's voices blend so well. And here we hear Bellini's great bel canto melodies sung to perfection.This has become one of my all-time favorite opera DVD's because of such a huge and superb collection of great singing from favorite opera superstars. I recommend this with 10 stars!"
I love this!
jim_sf | 08/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How can anyone give this awesome collection of performances only 2 stars???? Everyone on here give wonderful performances that have me jumping and shouting brava/bravo/bravi continually! Everyone is in his/her prime (exception for Peerce and Pons but even they are in superb voice). This has become my favorite opera DVD of this sort, with "Great Stars of Opera" my next favorite."
Great Moments in Opera
B. Porter | Whittier, CA United States | 08/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The DVD, Great Moments in Opera, features famous opera singers singing arias that made them famous. It is broken up into two volumes, and some singers are featured more than once. All in all, there are selections from many different operas, although they are all Italian. Because of this, the Italian singer Franco Corelli was the most natural with singing this kind of opera, and even sung a traditional Italian song called "Tu Lo Sai."
The aria "Un bel di" from Madame Butterfly by Puccini was performed twice. The first performance, by Dorothy Kirsten, was taken from an older film, but it featured an appropriate stage set, a Japanese bridge over a pond. The second, by Eileen Farrell, although being filmed more recently, had a background that was composed of butterflies on sticks in order that the viewer be aware that Madame Butterfly was singing. Both singers were very good.
The singer Birgit Nilsson was shown twice. She was definitely an accomplished bel canto singer as was Franco Corelli. She was able to achieve clear tonality even in the high registers.
Robert Merrill was shown a few times, and at the end of the DVD, he sung three duets from Verdi operas. In one aria he sang incredibly quickly, a very difficult task.
An interesting selection previewed Eileen Farrell singing a Verdi aria. It was interesting because she was positioned out in the middle of some ancient Roman or Grecian ruins with a pianist to accompany her instead of on a stage with an orchestra background.
The duet `Mira, O Norma" from Norma was performed by Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne. Although both singers were sopranos, they were able to achieve clarity and variety in their singing. They definitely matched each other's voices perfectly.
The aria `Vesti le guiba" from I Pagliacci was sung by Richard Tucker. In accordance with the opera, he dressed as a clown and even had to deal with a couple props. He was able to sing well and act at the same time.
Roberta Peters was a singer who was especially talented with singing in the high register. This was evidenced by the fact that in each of the arias that she sang the ending displayed a brilliantly high cadenza.
A rather amusing part of the DVD was when Lily Pons sung "Gavotte" from Mignon. She was seated in a type of fairy tale garden in which there were lily ponds( a sort of derivation off of her name). Once she even looked into a lily pond in accordance with the action that went with what she was singing.
All in all Great Moments in Opera is a good summery of highlights of Italian opera and of famous singers. The name of each singer and the piece that they sing is given so that everything is featured in a good order. This is a well put together, informative, and entertaining DVD to watch."