"Sumptuously costumed and splendidly staged, this elaborate cinematic biography blends documentary with drama to tell the story of a great artistic genius who became the musical voice of a nation."* Booklist. Filmed on loc... more »ation in Italy, Leningrad, London, and Paris, this epic mini-series took several years to create, requiring more than 100 actors, 1800 extras, and 4000 costumes. This uncut version dubbed in English is 4 hours longer than the edited version that originally aired on Public Television to great acclaim. This spectacular film is filled with Verdi?s glorious music, sung in the original Italian and taken from past recordings featuring such operatic legends as Renata Tebaldi, Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, and Birgit Nilsson. Stars Ronald Pickup, who plays Verdi with a "subdued, dignified passion" and Carla Fracci, the famed Italian ballerina, who is "absolutely superb" as Giuseppina Strepponi, Verdi?s second wife (Clive Barnes).« less
Miniseries which aired in 1982. Joint Italian and British production. This is a precisely detailed chronicling of Verdi's long life, which was anything but boring. Rich background on each opera he composed, the effects these had on the times, and the historical figures involved in bringing each one to the light of day. He had a fondness for Shakespeare and operatically interpreted many of his plays. This is quite the educational piece and I learned much about the history of Europe and Italy.
The impact of Verdi's genius is still ever present with us today. You may find you are more familiar with some of his work than you know. Not a day goes by on this planet without one of his operas being performed somewhere, sometime, someplace. Giuseppe Verdi had an empathetic human heart at his core, was kind and thankful in demeanor, and left an entire nation in grief when he parted ways in death.
"The Life of Verdi" is an epic behemoth. It was filmed on location in Italy, Leningrad, London, and Paris. Took several years to create, requiring more than 100 actors, 1800 extras, and 4000 costumes. This version of the title has much Italian language with English subtitling, mixed in with some English language too. Also narrated by Burt Lancaster. Seven 90 minute episodes (well, the last one is about 120.) I feel ineffably enriched having viewed this series, certain it will persist with me a long time.
A superb TV series. Unacceptable DVD setup . PIRATED work?
Bertrand Renaud | 02/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some years ago, I had watched the original TV series that is superb, and left me with vivid memories. This is one of the very best biographies of a great artist that I ever watched on TV. A landmark. Definitely 5-star. I have great admiration and respect for the quality and authenticity of all the works of director Renato Castellani. So I was really happy to find that I could buy this biography of Verdi in DVD's. However, this company KULTUR and its staff deserve to be taken to the woodshed -- maybe to court?From a user point of view, there are several problems: (1) the quality of the recording is poor, video tracking pops-up from time to time. Images of large scale views such at the stage in La Scala are not sharp. It is readily apparent that this DVD series has not been made from the original tapes from some copy: this is conspicuous at the start of Episode 2 where the introducer's blue dress "bleeds" startingly on the screen. [I have not yet found the time to watch the last three episodes. Maybe there are surprises there too. I hope not.] (2) Switching from one episod to another is a true hassle because the programing is not set up properly. The episodes do not load on their own and start only after repeated clicks. Left unattended, the opening trailers at the start of each episode keep cycling endlessly. (3) There is also no background information about the series on paper: not on the cover box, not in a simple paper flyer inside the CD containers. The cover box only carries a quote from a review in a source named as "Booklist". The only basic information on how the series were made is embedded in the original PBS introductions to each episode. Disappointedly, but not objectionable there no additional information inside the CDs in the form of video interviews of the director or actors, nor segments deleted from the original movie, which a very common value- added item in DVD movies, particularly expected in a 4-DVD series.The strength and beauty of the original work is such that once the action gets started we are immediatly absorbed in Verdi's life and music. But not thanks to Kultur.Commercially, could it be that Amazon.com is selling a pirated product? I am suspicious, but I am not a professional in those matters. Why suspicious? because, I was looking for the release date of the original TV series, but I could not find it anywhere. To my astonishment there is no reference to the date of the movie nor any listing of main actors on the box, or inside. On closer scrutiny, I then noticed also that there is not copyright statement on the cover box. I distincly recall also that such statements -- and the date of production again --are absent from the end trailers of credits at the end of every individual episode I have watched so far. Is this KULTUR outfit legitimate? or were these DVDs made in some US or Asian garage?Conclusion: a superb biography of one of the greatest opera composers of all times that is worth being part of a permanent DVD collection. But, a flawed and suspicious DVD transfer by KULTUR."
5 stars for content, *1* star for dvd quality
none | Goleta, CA United States | 01/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The greatness of Verdi is detailed meticulously in this brilliant miniseries/documentary. If you're a Verdi fan, this is definitely a must see. However, the DVD transfer is horrible. It would seem like that the source of the transfer is an old VHS tape. There are sections where the entire screen and audio are chewed up. This problem occurs frequently in episodes 3-6. Would it have killed Kultur to remaster the source?"
Fine accomplishment but poor transfer
W. Russell | Springfield, VA USA | 01/20/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On all counts the original presentation of "Life of Verdi" was a well-conceived and well-executed treat on all counts. What fails us now is Kultur's amateurish transfer. First of all, viewers can't skip past Robert Peter's introductions (which could easily have been omitted but at least she, unlike Burt Lancaster on PBS, could pronounce "Verdi"). Second, the transfer is from a flawed video tape. Tracking problems occur occasionally which they wouldn't had Kultur bothered to go back to the originals. How cheap!! Now watch them remaster it and us who have it forced to decide whether to get a whole new set of something that should have been done RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!!"
Loved the story, DVD really stank though!
Little Dorrit | WA state | 12/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well to the reviewer of this film that said he wanted the DVD of it, I can only say I hope yours is better than the one we got! All four discs in the new factory sealed copy we received have some major problems, they'll play fine for a bit and then all sorts of lines, fuzziness and sometimes even pauses occur and are most distracting.As to the film itself, we loved it! It is an interesting form of docudrama and we learned much watching it, not just about Verdi, but the changing world he lived in and his part in it. The sets are gorgeous and long as this version is, it didn't drag for us, we couldn't wait to get to the next installment to see what happened next.I didn't find the narrator annoying, just the awful quality of the dvd! If I can find it in video format I may just buy it."
A Celebration of a Musical Genius!!!
Stephen Pletko | London, Ontario, Canada | 05/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
This mini-series dubbed in English on DVD is a dramatized biography of one of the great opera composers, Giuseppe Verdi (1813 to 1901). The narrated biographical events are played out against the background of Italy's struggle for unity and independence, a cause to which Verdi (Ron Pickup) dedicated his art.
There is also romance in this movie as Verdi meets the significant women in his life: Margheritta (Daria Nicolodi), Giuseppina (Italian ballerina Carla Fracci), and Teresa (Eva Christian). All three along with an older Verdi are shown on the DVD's container cover.
The music in this movie is fantastic. It has recordings of leading operatic voices such as Luciano Pavarotti, Maria Callas, and Renata Tebaldi. The movie is stunningly photographed and includes actual highlights of many of Verdi's operas such as Nabucco (Nebuchadneezzar, King of Babylon, 1842), I Lombardi, Ernani, Rigoletto, La Traviata (The Lost One), Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball), Aida, Otello (his greatest lyric tragedy) and Falstaff (1893, his last opera).
Each part of this movie has a brief introduction given by a female host. Here is her introduction for the entire series:
"This is a seven-part dramatization of the life of the world's most important and beloved operatic composers. For the opera fans in the audience, we hope it will enhance your enjoyment...but you don't have to be a devoted opera buff to enjoy this exceptional docudrama. Some seven million dollars and two years time went into the making of [this mini-series]. It was filmed on location in Italy, France, England, and the Soviet Union. Great care was taken to ensure the accuracy of historical events, settings, and costuming as you will see. The result is an intriguing portrait of a man, a country, and the events that shaped their destinies. The series is a compelling human drama and a tribute to a man that gave us more than twenty-five operas."
Ron Pickup as Verdi gives, I feel, an exceptional performance. As well, I feel that the male English narrator (who is not given credit) also does a good job. (Note that in this version, Burt Lancaster is not the narrator.)
The sound quality of this DVD is very good. However, occasionally there are split second disturbances in picture quality. Because I was so absorbed in the story, I did not find these distracting. I think its better to own this DVD than to own the video cassette of this mini-series.
Finally, this mini-series focuses on Verdi's operas giving the impression he composed only operas. However, this is not true! He also composed beautiful vocal and chamber music.
In conclusion, this is a spectacular mini-series/movie. Be sure to see it so as to learn more about the man who said, "It is better to invent reality than to copy it."
(1982 or 1983 or 1984; 4 discs; 10 hr, 30 min; 7 parts; first 6 parts about 90 min each, last part 120 min; made for TV; full screen)