John G. Gleeson Sr. | Frederic, Mi USA | 05/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I will underscore what reviewer Morrison said. This a must have for Verdi fans. Frankly, I hesitated before buying it: I am not a big fan of Placido Domingo, and I thought that Jose Carreras would not do well, because his voice is showing its age. While I liked Ruggero Raimondi, I have not seen him onstage for several years.
However ... there were no disappointments in this performance. Everyone sang well and Maestro Mehta delivered superb interpretations. The spoken introductions were superfluous, in my opinion, but not enough to diminish my rating of this 2 disc set. The idea of starting with Nabucco and proceeding from early to late Verdi was a great one.
The discs demonstrate perhaps better than any single opera does the breadth of Verdi's genius and melodic talent.
Picture quality is first rate, and the option of 5.1 sound means tht you can also entertain the neighbors. Subtitles work well and the translations are pretty accurate.
I recommend this one without reservation."
A Grand Verdi Gala from Italy
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 03/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In March 2001 a grand Verdi gala commemorating the 100th anniversary of the composer's death and featuring some of the best-known singers in world was presented at the Teatro Padiglione Padacassa in Parma. Zubin Mehta conducted the orchestra and chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and accompanied such singers as Plácido Domingo, José Cura, José Carreras, Marcelo Álvarez (what is it with the current and former dominance of Hispanic tenors?--and this list doesn't even include Rolando Villazon!), the glorious sopranos Daniela Dessì and Barbara Frittoli, and stalwarts such as Ruggero Raimondi and Leo Nucci as well as relative unknowns (in the US) Elisabete Matos, Luciana D'Intino, Mariella Devía, Gloria Schalcchi, Cinzia Rizzone, Riccardo Zanellato, Konstantin Gorny, Rossana Rinadli and Gianluca Floris.
The program was arranged with selections from Verdi operas in the order in which they were written, beginning with 'Va, pensiero' from 'Nabucco,' and then, in order, selections from Jérusalem, Il corsaro, Rigoletto, Il trovatore, La traviata, Un ballo in maschera, La forza del destino, Don Carlo, Aïda, Otello, and Falstaff. Three hours of glorious music! Each selection was introduced (in Italian, of course, but with idiomatically translated subtitles) by various of the singers, with some sometimes witty and other times trivial commentary about the piece to be heard next. (One funny bit, in the second half, had the line-up of singers illustrating from an 18th-century textbook on acting various methods of portraying emotions such as 'love' (Ruggero Raimondi and Barbara Frittoli hamming it up), 'hypocrisy,' 'jealousy, etc.)
At the time this review was written Amazon had not yet included the contents of these two DVDs and I will not do that as it is too lengthy. But I will comment on some of the highlights. On the first CD, which takes us through 'Ballo,' I was particularly impressed with Cura singing 'La donna è mobile' from 'Rigoletto' followed by the Quartet with Mariella Devía, Gloria Schalcchi, Marcelo Álvaro and Leo Nucci, although I must say that Nucci was barking a bit. The entire finale of 'Trovatore' was terrific (Domingo, Schalcchi, Frittoli). Mariella Devía sang 'Ah, fors' è lui' and 'Sempre libera' thrillingly but with some approximate coloratura. Leo Nucci's 'Eri tu' from 'Ballo' was fairly humdrum, I have to say, but the final scene with Carreras as Riccardo, Nucci as Renato, Matos as Amelia, Rizzone as Oscar, and Zanellato and Gorny as Tom and Samuel was moving.
The second CD's music begins with what for me is the most exciting singing of the evening, Daniela Dessì's 'Pace, pace, o mio dio' from 'La forza'--simply stunning! And this is followed by another thrilling performance, Luciana D'Intino's 'O don fatale' from 'Don Carlo.' Mio dio! And then--get this!--another blockbuster: Barbara Frittoli singing 'Ritorna vincitor'...'Numi, pietà' from 'Aïdo.' Holy moley! These three performances are followed by the entire finale (Triumphal Scene) of Act II of Aïda with Dessì, D'Intino (Amneris), Cura, Nucci (Amonasro), Raimondi (The King), Zanellato (a young basso to watch as Ramfis) and, of course, the chorus.
The huge Aïda scene is followed by the quiet, rapturous 'Già nella notte densa' from 'Otello' sung by Cura and Frittoli. (This is a good place to put in praise for the cello section of the Maggio Musicale orchestra, since the love duet has that gorgeous celli divisi introduction. The principal's solo for 'Ella giammai m'amo' was also marvelous.) Cura sounds a bit callow at the beginning of the duet, but when Frittoli comes in things get better and Cura's voice begins to bloom. I was weeping by the end. This is followed then by the 21-minute Act IV finale of 'Otello' from 'Ave Maria' (after the Willow Song) through a glorious 'Niun mi tema' to the end, the heart-breaking 'Un altro bacio' and Otello's death. In this segment the Otello is Domingo, a signature role if ever there was one, and the thrilling Desdemona is Daniela Dessì. What can I say? By the end I was weeping again. I was thankful that the next piece was 'Tutta nel mundo è burla' from 'Falstaff' (with all the evening's soloists participating) which serves to lighten the atmosphere and allow me to dry my tears. Thunderous applause, richly deserved, followed by an encore, ending as we began with 'Va, pensiero.'
2 CDs. TT=182 mins. Sound: DD 5.1 or PCM stereo. Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian. Extra: A slide show of stills from the concert. Crisp visuals, expertly edited. Sound is good, but tends to favor the singers so that one sometimes misses some things going on in the excellent orchestra.
If you're a Verdi fan, you are going to want this set. Trust me on this.
Exceptional Verdi Singing......Particulary the Tenors!
Jon M. De Benedictis | Fairfield, CT United States | 08/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These sort of gala's rarely come together so well. More often than not, there are a couple of singers who are just not up to par with the others, or perhaps the selections chosen to be performed just don't cut it. Luckily, those don't seem to be issues here.
This performance, recorded in Parma in March of 2001 is quite simply flawless. Were I pressed to find one negative, I guess it would be that I wish there was more. It would have been wonderful to hear selections from ERNANI, LUISA MILLER and SIMON BOCCANEGRA. But what we have here on two DVD's is some of the finest Verdi singing in recent memory.
While there are wonderful sopranos, mezzos, baritones and the incomparable Ruggero Raimondi on bass (singing a showstopping "Ella Giammai M'amo" from DON CARLO), the tenors were the real stars here.
Placido Domingo, though featured in only two selections, is in great form. He sings quite well in the finale to IL TROVATORE and all but steals the show (not surprisingly) with his deeply moving "Nium Mi Tema" from OTELLO.
I was actually quite surprised at how good Jose Carreras sounded, particularly in the beautiful trio from JERUSALEM and the finale to UN BALLO IN MASCHERA. While his voice is well past its prime, he still manages to muster up plenty of passion and emotion.
Perhaps the biggest revelation for me was Jose Cura. Though he was average during the trio from IL TROVATORE, his ACT I duet from OTELLO with Barbara Frittoli is one of the finest I have heard. It's wonderful to have a tenor who actually attempts to sound romantic when he sings "un bacio," as opposed to most, who simply shout it out like it's a battle cry.
The real star of the evening, though, is Zubin Mehta. His proves himself to be a Verdi conductor of the highest caliber and, as always, seems to be really enjoying himself.
If you are a fan of great Verdi singing, or just great singing in general, then you will most surely enjoy this wonderful DVD."
3 Glorious hours of Verdi!
El Critico | Aventura, Florida | 07/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I do not think that I have anything to add to the previous reviews, but just BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVISSIMO!
This DVD is a must for any Verdi lover.