This outstanding production of Verdi's tragic opera stars four of the world's great Verdi singers; Placido Domingo, Renato Bruson, Nicolai Ghiaurov and Mirella Freni as the gentle heroine desired by these three rivals. The... more »y have been described as "possibly the best quartet of singers any opera house has managed to assemble this year" - The Times. The cast give an impassioned performance under the baton of Riccardo Muti, an acclaimed interpreter of Verdi. Based on Victor Hugo's play, this violent and sombre story of frustrated passion, and ambition thwarted and rewarded, is set by the composer to a succession of irresistible tunes, unsurpassed even in his mature works. The opera's dramatic impetus is simply unstoppable.« less
GEORGE RANNIE | DENVER, COLORADO United States | 09/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How fortunate that we have this DVD of Verdi's Ernani from La Scala of its 1982 production of Verdi's Ernani for it truly catches all of the principal singers in their respective vocal primes. It truly is an historic performance. Domingo looking and singing like a god pouring out golden tones; Renato Bruson sounds, like the sublime Verdian Baritone that he was at that time; Nicolai Ghiaurov proves again that he was one of the greatest "Verdi Basses"; Mirella Freni shows that there was more to her than just being Mimi and Susannah-in fact I can remember reading that at the time of the premiere of this production that there were fist fights (not unusual in La Scala's gallery) between Mirella's many fans--between those fans that just wanting her to continue singing the light lyric repertoire that they were use to her singing and those that felt she should and could sing the lyric-spinto repertoire which, of course, she proved that,indeed, she could (She's still singing more than twenty years later). This performance captures some of the best Verdi singers of the time doing dear ole wonderful Giuseppi proud. I have to admit that the sound quality and the picture quality does not nearly match the Metropolitan's DVD of the same opera (which I also love). WHO CARES? I don't! When there is an opportunity to hear (and also to see) singers of this status and quality in their prime, I'm more than willing to put up with some format imperfection. If you love Verdi and great singing, buy this DVD. (by the way, Muti is his outstanding Verdian self conducting Verdi as only he can--as if it is in his blood!) "
What a perfect Ernani
Hila Hornstein | Mevasseret - Zion Israel | 04/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There couldn't have been a better casting for these roles. Domingo's Ernani is heroic and strong, showing once more his marvelous acting skills. He sings the role like no other tenor, with amazing accuracy of rythem and pace, important in this role more than in any other. The credit for that goes to Domingo's great musical talent as well as Muti's flawles conducting of this opera. Freni is as chrming as ever, a most loveable Elvira, acting convincingly and singing perfectly, one can see why 3 men are in love with her... one of the best Elviras I've heard. Bruson is great as a cinical, coniving king and Ghiaurov is as storng as ever, portrays a touching old Silva with his warm bass voice and sensitive acting.Another word about the conducting - Ernani is an opera that rises or falls by the way it's conducted. Muti makes it rise, big time. Not a note out of rythem or place.Don't hesitate - just buy it!"
Beautiful music, excellent performance but poor recording.
Mrs. Sunar Tjahjono | Jakarta, Indonesia | 10/09/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although this opera is not quite popular, the music is also as beautiful and romantic as the other operas by Verdi. While it is performed beautifully and with great care, apparently shown in the beautiful and colorful costumes and luxurious background set. The singers are without doubt so wellknown that guaranteed the performance to be excellent. Placido Domingo as the bandit Ernani and Mirella Freni as Elvira, Ernani's lover, match each other so perfectly, especially we enjoy listening to their divine and romantic duets. Renato Bruson as Don Carlos, and Nicolai Ghiaurov as the nobleman De Silva supported the whole performance and made it so perfect that we enjoy from beginning to the end.
However, disappointingly the recording (although indicated on the packaging as HiFi Stereo) is so poor and bothering. At sometime it is too soft that we need to turn the volume at maximum, while suddenly it turned so loud that we are forced to keep our remote volume control handy to be able to turn it louder or lower as necessary. I assume that the recording is technically not quite advanced.
Nevertheless, watching and listening to this opera give us quite such enjoyment that we are not quite bothered to have to turn the volume on and off/minimum-maximum as necessary. Improvement to the sound recording for a next release would be recommended."
Enjoyable but not ideal
Bernal Jimenez | Gaithersburg, MD United States | 12/04/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The most common complaint about this release is its sound quality. I didn't find it to be as problematic as it's been made out to be. Yes, the non-musical atmospheric sounds (footsteps, coughs, etc) are more audible than on most recordings, but no more bothersome than what you'd normally encounter live at the theater. The microphones favor the orchestra, reminding me of many Karajan opera recordings where the voices, though not treated as an afterthought, are certainly relegated to the background. I was impressed with the excellent video quality of more than 20 years ago. A starry cast indeed, I found Domingo and Ghiaurov at the top of their game. For Bruson, whose talents and rich Verdian voice I have always admired, this was an off night. Mirella Freni is simply miscast as Elvira. She seems terrified the entire time, looking as if she's wondering whether she'll get over the next vocal hurdle, and relieved when she gets through it without a major disaster. I felt like watching someone walk the tight rope. I enjoy Muti's conducting very much and for that reason it is particularly frustrating to cope with his Puritanical treatment of the score as written for the premiere. Leaving out (since you can't call it "cutting") two big numbers for Silva and Ernani is not easy to forgive. Both were written by Verdi and both added to the score by the composer himself. The production is nice to look at and these are, after all, some of the top performers of the day putting on one of Verdi's most tuneful operas. Yet if you're only going to have one Ernani DVD (and sadly it's not like we'll ever have a wide range of choices), I would recommend the Met recording with Pavarotti over this uneven release (which includes the musical numbers Muti discarded)."
Excellent production but two numbers are missing
Toni Bernhard | Davis, CA United States | 08/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ernani may be early Verdi, but it stands up well against his more famous operas. Its ensemble pieces have the wild feel of Il Trovatore, the choruses are spirited, and the bel canto arias make beautiful use of the human voice.
If you're only going to buy one DVD of the opera, it's hard to choose between this La Scala production of 1982 and The Met production of 1983. The principal reason for choosing this production over The Met is that Mirella Freni so outshines Leona Mitchell as Elvira (who, one could argue, is the main character in the opera). Verdi has written a difficult dramatic coloratura role for Elvira. Her music may start out in a low register only to suddenly soar high, requiring the skills of a lyric soprano, trills and all. Mitchell's voice just doesn't have the flexibility to execute everything Verdi asks of it. By contrast, Freni handles the vocal requirements, not without effort, but splendidly nonetheless. Her Act I Scene 2 cabaletta (following "Ernani involami") is stunning and, in the ensemble pieces, her voice soars powerfully above the others. In addition, although Pavarotti's singing in The Met is spectacular, Domingo matches him in voice and adds his superior acting abilities.
But if you want to hear the two pieces that Verdi later added to Ernani, you'll have to buy The Met production. Verdi revised the opera, adding a cabaletta for Silva in Act I (apparently to put the role on equal footing with the others) and also composed an aria and cabaletta for the title character as the finale to Act II. The two numbers add a lot to the opera and I would have liked to have heard Ghiaurov and Domingo tackle them.
A final thought on this production: it's a real treat to see five opera greats in their prime performing together: conductor Muti, tenor Domingo, baritone Bruson, soprano Freni, and bass Ghiaurov (the latter two being newlyweds at the time)."