David Cady | Jersey City, NJ USA | 01/17/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone who's reading these reviews probably has a pretty good idea of what to expect here. I never had the opportunity to see Ira Siff's Galupe-Borszkh or La Gran Scena live, but had heard from many sources how wonderful he/she was. Now, having watched the DVD of these live, (mostly) cabaret performances, I'm somewhat on the fence. Siff's spoken patter is often very, very funny and clever, particularly if you have the prerequisite operatic points of reference. (And if you don't, I wouldn't bother with this DVD at all.) As a performer, he improves considerably with time; in the earlier excerpts, sandwiched between two more recent shows, his timing and delivery lack the punch and sure-footedness that he would eventually develop. What I found less riviting (and actually quite boring at times), was the singing. For the most part Siff plays it straight when Vera's actually vocalising. Only occasionally does he bring the same lunacy to the arias that he so successfully displays in the banter. When he does (most notably in a German leider or Ophelia's mad scene from Thomas' "Hamlet" -- or "omelet" as Vera mispronounces it), the results are quite entertaining. So here's what I would suggest: Watch the patter and fast-forward through the singing. You'll be rewarded by some inspired, but loving, opera parody -- and you won't get too restless. (The point may be that Galupe-Borszkh is no great singer, but Donizetti sung badly is...well, just plain bad.) Don't miss an interesting interview with Siff at the very end in which he discusses how he created the character. (But you can skip his endless "fake" reminiscenses of having seen Galupe-Borszkh perform; she's a fictional character, Ira, get a grip.) Oh, and one other thing you'll need to know: The onscreen chapter index only lists about a third of what's actually on the DVD; keep pressing the "forward" button for the rest."
This is pure love and genius combined
Kenneth Wolman | Sea Bright, New Jersey United States | 01/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ira Siff is one of opera's most knowledgeable madmen. He's end La Gran Scena, but his Mme Vera character seems to be going strong, and this DVD is proof of why: it's hysterical. He goofs on every style of female singer alive (or maybe not), and actually his voice isn't that bad. Oh, of course it is, and that's part of the fun. Hell, he still sings better than Florence Foster Jenkins and she really WAS a woman."
Hey, this is funny!
Alton C. Capps | Springfield, MO USA | 10/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you like opera and you like a good spoof, you are going to enjoy this DVD. This is funny stuff. A well planned and rehearsed act full of music, comedy and wit."