Ballo at the Met
Raffles | Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal | 10/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After hearing to this wonderful performance, I couldn't avoid and started to compare it (mentally) to the Met's DVD of this same opera taped in 1980. Both have their strong and weak points:
1- The production: Both Moshinsky (1980) and Faggioni (1991) offer the viewer rather conventional productions that, however, work very well, being inobtrusive to the action (something essential to me).
2- The conducting: Personally, I prefer Giuseppe Patane's (1980) to James Levine's (1991). Sometimes Levine doesn't underline certain moments where this would be most welcome and can also be a bit crude, but these are minor quibbles. Both he and Patane were on the helm of one of best orchestras in the world, so nothing could go wrong.
3- The singers: PAVAROTTI's voice is clearly heavier and darker in 1991 rather than in 1980, but his is a performance to treasure (in both productions). He is to me, the one who best knows how to perform this character. Just watch, in both productions) the way he acts when he learns from Ulrica that he will be murdered. He almost has Gustavo (Ricardo) in his blood. APRILE MILLO is a very good singer, with a nice, resounding voice and with very good acting abillities (just watch her "Morrò, ma prima in grazia"). Her Amelia is a very moving portrayal. I just would like her to sing a little more pianissimo in some moments, which I know she can but, some how, doens't manage to do. KATIA RICCIARELLI in 1980, has a more sweet, less powerful voice, and she, like Millo, plays Amelia with great sensivity and care for the music. Both Amelia's are very good, among the best one can come across with. In my own opinion, both Renato's (almost) steal the show. QUILICO (1980) and NUCCI (1991), though possesing different timbres manage to express, at first, the deep faithfulness of Renato for his King and then, the humiliation and the rage the character feels. QUILICO is the most 'regular' (his first aria is wonderfully sang), NUCCI has a somewhat shaky start, but both reach to great heights as the opera progresses. both do entire justice to Renato's music. Ulrica has always been a difficult character to bring off, because it is only present in one act and because it needs a very low female voice. BIANCA BERINI (1980) and FLORENCE QUIVAR (1991) lack this last, specially the first. Beyond that, BERINI'S voice is not as full as QUIVAR's. Despite this, they both hold their own against the rest of the singers, though QUIVAR seems to me more effective. The only singers who really bring off Ulrica are, in my opinion, LUDWIG (with Solti) and COSSOTTO (with Muti). The Oscar of HEROLYN BLACKWELL (1991) is very well sung and acted, but I prefer JUDITH BLEGEN's (1980) more refined portrayal (specially in vocal terms). Sam and Tom (Horn and Ribbing) are well cast in both productions. WILLIAM WILDERMAN and JULIAN ROBBINS (1980), TERRY COOK and JEFFREY WELLS (1991), have all good voices and make a nice impression.
In way of conclusion, I think both performances are excellent with any weak link. It all depends on the singers one may prefer."
Super Opera.... The Best Ballo!!!!!
Spinto | ct | 10/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am, as you might glisten from the title, a big fan of this production. It is right on, from begging to end. the Metropolitan goes with Verdi's original, set in Sweeden.
Pavarotti is in his very best form as Gustav. He has often written that he has a special identification with the Role, we can tell. he really tries to act. He is incredibly believable. He looks like a Big, naieve, fun loving Aristocrat, who waxes melodramatic. pavarotti brings this straishtforward across wonderfully. his voice rings solid throuought.
April Millo is just smashing, no complaints. her Amelia is perfect, and the audience knows it, showering her with praise after her 3nd act Aria.
Her tone is dark, and there are no issues with vibrato as stated elsewhere. Visually she works well with Pavarotti, they are both middle aged and large. this is not to say that Millo is not beautiful, for she is. But is is just the type of beauty that is appropriate for Pavarotti's Gustav.
To me, Leo Nucci streals the show. His Renato (Ive forgotten the swedish equivalent) is incredible. his high notes go right to your ear. The resonace is so alive. The A flats and G's are right on pitch with no strain. As an actor he bumbles around the stage capable, a very grumpy character, always scowling. One could understand the coolness between he and Amelia.
The Ocscar of this production, the name escapes me, deserves special mention for a incredible soprano tone and energentic acting."
Bruce Varner | Chicago area, USA | 02/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This opera runs a little over two hours, and it will be the fastest two hours of opera you will ever see. James Levine and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra support a superstar cast. The costumes and set are magnificent. This DVD is a must-have for your collection.
One thing that I found unusual about this opera is the lack of any big choruses, the normal Verdi trademark. It doesn't matter. What choruses there are were well-sung by the Met chorus.
The principals are stunning, starting with former Broadway star Harolyn Blackwell as Oscar. She has a leggiero soprano that is clear as a bell, and she is captivating on stage. The great baritone Leo Nucci sings the role of Renato, the jealous husband of Amelia, and the guy who gets to stab Pavarotti in Act 3. His best scene was definitely the opening aria of Act 3 ("A tal colpa e nulla il pianto"). In this aria, he is convinced that wife Amelia has been having an affair with King Gustavus, and vows to kill her then and there. It was very well sung and convincingly acted.
Big-voiced mezzo Florence Quivar sings the juicy part of Ulrica, the gypsy/witch/fortuneteller. You will not believe her low notes, so have the home theatre system or TV speakers turned up. She is a true Verdi mezzo. Her voice has serious cut in all the registers. She dominated the stage every time she sang.
The legendary Luciano Pavarotti sang Gustavus. This performance was recorded in 1991, when Pavarotti was still on his game. What is so amazing to me in watching him is that he had absolutely no tension anywhere. He proves that you don't have to bust a vein to produce sound. He has some spectacular moments in this opera. I loved the singing in his big scene with Amelia in Act 2 ("Teco io sto"/"Gran Dio!"). Pavarotti got on my nerves in this scene because, even though it is a love duet, he never even looked at Aprile until the end. I guess he just had to keep his eye on the prompter. He sang it well, though. His death in Act 3 was very well sung.
Aprile Millo was just fantastic in the coveted role of Amelia. Interestingly, she didn't "grow into" Verdi roles, she sang them from the beginning. When you hear her sing this role, you'll see why. Her first big aria ("Ecco l'orrido campo"-"Ma dall'arido stelo") was superb. But her next big aria ("Morro, ma prima in grazia") was a literal showstopper. It drove the Met crowd into loud and prolonged cheering. The acting in this aria was amazing. This aria follows husband Renato's aria, when he threatens to kill her. In her aria, she asks to hold her son one last time before she dies. At one point, she reaches for Renato's hand begging for forgiveness. He coldly rejects her.
What a great performance. We are lucky to have it available on DVD.
Only those who know will agree
J.gandolfini | rome, italy | 07/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In this modern age of acceptability with anything passing as a voice, especially in Verdi, this DVD is balm. Pavarotti is lyric but so wonderfully poised and golden toned
and really at his peak in this captured gem. Millo IS the real thing. Novices harp on
anything to SOUND like they know, they don't. This is the best modern Ameilia of her
day. Warm, rich tone, NO HINT of vibrato,fearless high notes and piani superbly supported and evocative in color.... for those of us who know the Italian sound and who expect it when he hear Verdi....Milanov,Tebaldi, voices with cut and velvet.
She is a thrilling throwback to the day when people knew how to phrase with beauty and poetry, and fill that out with luxurious, molten gold. She and Pavarotti are a match
for each other pouring out reams of melody and gorgeous singing. Miss Millo is neither plump or fat here, and looks stunning in this production of Faggioni. Nucci is
a little blustery but always authentically Verdian in phrase and utterance, and Quiver
offers a good reading of Ulrica,a role a little too low for this lovely voice. Levine reminds he is the best in opera with a sensitive, often thrilling reading of Verdi's great score. This is the one to buy.....for those who know."