A marvelous, horrifying film of Rigoletto
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This video is not Rigoletto at Verona, it is the opera produced as a film in Mantua, the actual setting of the opera. The town, the river, and the splendid ducal palace are the settings for what is really a gorgeous and thrilling production. In addition to Pavarotti as the duke, the cast features Ingmar Wixell as a superb Rigoletto and Edita Gruberova as an ethereal and convincing Gilda. The horrors of the story are powerfully and movingly played out through tremendous singing and a terrific production job. Fabulous, and haunting."
One of the best opera on film ventures
Rosomax | Boulder, CO United States | 01/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, first off, it's a FILM version of the opera, so one can't quite judge it by the standards of a recorded live opera. After being a devoted opera fan for over 20 years, I need to mention that ANYONE, not only "newbies" will enjoy it. What I immediately noticed was the fact that the opera score is here without omissions, a problem that haunts many attempts of making a good opera film. "Otello" or "La Traviata", for instance, are superbly staged, but they suffer from many scene omissions, which can be upsetting to the fans. Not the case here, at least I could not find any without having to retrieve my copy of the score and compare it line by line.
The absolute revelation for me was Mr. Ingwar Wixell. I've heard his voice many times, particularly on early Verdi recordings brought to life by Lamberto Gardelli. Well, here he sounds even better, plus he proves himself as one of the best singing actors I've ever seen. At the first scene at Duke's palace, Rigoletto is plain disgusting, no wonder that Monterone curses him. By the way, Monterone is played by Wixell as well, and I was surprised by the sonority and great low register that his baritone is able to produce. Later, he's a obsessively loving father and a mischievous "vendicator". Loved Feruccio Furlanetto's Sparafucile! I could not believe it was he under all that makeup, but the pitch-black quality of his voice is unmistakable. Edita Gruberova has long been one of the world's leading high coloratura sopranos. Indeed, to be able to accurately negotiate Gilda's tessitura, one needs a spectacular high range. Sutherland also had that kind of high register, but Gruberova was a better choice cinematically, I suppose. Still, I wished for a subtler portrait of Gilda, but it had to do. Pavarotti's Duke is, of course, why most folks will buy this DVD. Well, he definitely gives a dashing Duke. He sings up a storm on a soundtrack (including the impossible high ending of "possente amor") and a tongue-in-chick "la donna e mobile", his signature aria. He overplays a bit, but he's a lot of fun to watch. Since he does not have to sing and move at the same time, he really bounces around quite a bit and looks very much at home throughout.
The film depicted the court of the Duke in the most accurate way. They're quite like vultures, and appropriately dressed in black. Marullo is sang by none other than Bernd Weikl, but played (wonderfully) by an actor. Even Giovanna is cast luxuriously - it's Fedora Barbieri who does not only provide a great voice, but also some much-needed comic relief in this fairly dark opera based on Hugo's "The King Amuses Himself". Riccardo Chailly conducts with gusto, but also with proper sensitivity.
Overall, it's a well thought-out film, I could not think of a way of making it any better. Even the often messed-up abduction scene is quite believable here. The subtitles are not bad, and the picture on DVD is a LOT better than on VHS or LaserDisc."
A winner for Wixell
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 06/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I usually do not care for "movie" versions of opera, preferring a filmed live performance, but this one is most enjoyable, and has some standout performances.
Released in 1983, it was made on location in Mantua, with good cinematography in a pallete of browns and dark greys.
Pavarotti is the Duke of Mantua, looking strong and robust, but I must confess I thought his performance very one-dimensional, continually loud, and as an actor is much the weakest in the cast.
Edita Gruberova's Gilda is extremely interesting; she gets stronger in each scene, and I found her performance to be quite touching and wonderful. Her "Caro Nome" is one that I truly loved, full of sweetness and vulnerability, and delicate trills.Ingvar Wixell's Rigoletto is superb, brilliantly portraying the many sides of the hunchbacked jester, from maliciously plotting revenge, to tenderly loving his daughter and the memory of his wife. His voice is rich and full, and he makes the most of Verdi's gorgeous score.
Victoria Vergara is a stunning and seductive Maddalena, and Ferruccio Fulanetto's Sparafucile is a creepy villain with very scary jagged teeth, and both are in fine vocal form.
Riccardo Chailly conducts the Vienna Choir and Philharmonic with great pacing, and this is a Rigoletto well worth watching, even for those who like me, are not "movie" opera fans."
Buy it before it goes out of print!
David | North Carolina, USA | 06/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a magnificent opera-movie version of Verdi's Rigoletto filmed on location. With Pavarotti as the lecherous Duke, Wixell as the hump-backed jester, and Gruberova as his pure and innocent daughter, this Rigoletto packs a punch. The singing is a delight throughout, as are the costumes, sets, and playing of the Wiener Philharmonker. If you're "opera curious" this would be an ideal place to start exploring this fascinating genre. While Pavarotti is known for his magnificent singing but stiff acting, in this production, he gives a terrific portrayal of the Duke. The ending with Rigoletto and his dying daughter is magnificent and beautifully and poignantly done. No matter how familiar you may be with this opera, it will seize your heart strings. The DVD visual and sound quality are superb. I hope more operatic works such as this will again see the light of day on DVD--this is the perfect medium for opera, the next best thing to being at the opera!"