A True Classic!
James A. Holland | Las Vegas, NV USA | 03/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This production of "I Pagliacci" is the best I have seen thus far.
Here we get several treats all on one disc.
For one, we get to see the immortal Franco Corelli at the very beginning of his legendary career.
At just over 30 years old, the late Maestro already displayed all the attributes that made him one of the greatest tenors of all time.
His voice huge and powerful and his appearance stenorian in all aspects, Maestro Correlli presents what may well be the definitive portrayal of the character Canio.
Then there is the production itself. Considering that this film was made in the early 50's, the quality of both sound and picture is good and the balck and white really adds a whole other dimension to the sad and tragic plot of this Opera.
I should mention here that this is a movie version of the Opera. Much like the Opera movies Domingo would make in the 80's, this production takes the Opera from the stage to an actual movie set.
The result is fantastic.
Another treasure here is the late, great, baritone Titto Gobbi, then at the height of his vocal prowess, cast in the part of Tonio.
Not unlike Corelli, his interpretation of the role is one of a kind.
The rest of the cast is also outstanding. Each actor brings to life the part in which cast with both individuality and adherence to the original score.
As for high points of this film, there are a few.
One being the opening prologue by Tonio, introducing us to the play. Gobbi sets the tone right from the very beginning and does it better than anyone since.
Then there is Corelli's first major aria with "Non tal giocca credete mi". His acting is superb as he exudes both anger and jealousy in measured yet appropriate proportions.
Next we have the immortal "Vesti la giubba", Canios heart wrenching lament.
To hear and see Corelli immerse himself into the anguish and desolation of betrayal is enough in a by itself, but the way in which he does this is incomprable.
Having seen both Domingo and Pavarotti in this role, I can say without fear of contradiction, that both fell short in comparison to Corelli's performance in this film.
Finally we have "No Pagliaccio non son". Again a shining moment for Corelli.
By now Canio's pain has turned into red-hot rage that borders on the insane, and Corelli does not fail in portraying his character as such.
The final words of the opera "La commedia e finisce" come across as almost anti-climatic, as Corelli almost whisperes the line....his character having been driven to murder, finally spent of all emotion and life.
In addition to the opera we are also given 5 selections of Corelli in his prime, in color, on the opera stage.
There are excerpts from "Aida" with Correlli's reading of "Celeste Aida", Cavalleria Rusticana "Addio alle madre" and a few others.
In all these clips, we get the entire performance of the aria and, given the rarity of available Corelli performances left to posterity, these are a real treasure to own.
I'm not easily impressed, but this DVD is worth every dime."