Murky Video Mars Terrific Performance
S. Holmes | Wilmette, IL United States | 05/15/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Buyer beware when purchasing this video. This performance was probably not an Italian Telecast, but a "house tape" with very few close-ups, only two or three cameras, and the results are an incredibly dark and murky picture. Consider the fact that most of this opera takes place at night, in dark streets and alleyways, and I think you can figure out, this video is only for the most dedicated opera collector. Certain scenes, the first one and the beginning of the third act afterGilda's abduction, are more brilliantly lighted -- so much more can be made out on the small screen. The performance is from Parma and you will get a sense of occasion because the audience is quite demonstrative and in many places brings the performance to a complete hault with its enthusiastic screaming and yelling. The audience demands and ALMOST gets an encore of Kraus's "La donna e immobile". The performance, on the other hand, is quite another matter. The three "names" in this video give truly brilliant and moving performances. Anyone who saw Kraus in his rather lengthy prime will want this performance just as an audio memento. Brilliance, style, taste and ease are all part of this artist's pallet. Leo Nucci sings and acts the living daylights out of almost every moment he is on stage. Occasional sharpness betrays the fact that this is a live and therefore imperfect performance -- but just listen to his ringing A-flat at the end of the Vendetta duet with Gilda (her E-flat just before it is one of the most lengthy and brilliantly sustained this listener has ever heard)...and you will begin to appreciate the power this genuine Verdi baritone brings to this role. Luciana Serra, an amazing Queen of the Night in Magic Flute shows that singing Mozart is not her only strength. Gilda suits her in that she has plenty of floaty and easy notes "in alt" with enough power and "cut" in the voice to carry over a powerful Verdi orchestra when she has to. The production (that which you can make out) is traditional and the courtiers costumes in the party scenes are quite ornate and colorful. Angelo Campori's conducting is somewhat routine, but neither is he intrusive or willful and the singers are almost always in sinc with the orchestra. This performance from February, 1987 will not be pleasing to everyone's eye, but it will surely please and stun your ear. If you insist on state of the art DVD technology, put this DVD back in the bin. But if you love great singing and want to attend an "event", this is the Rigoletto for you."
Robert G. VanStryland | Denton, TX USA | 08/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's true that the picture gets pretty dark. Apparently the video recording was done with normal theatrical lighting instead of the brighter lighting customarily used for televised stage performances. But I can see clearly everything I need to see, and picture quality is the last thing I'm thinking about when I listen to this superb performance.I bought this DVD to have a video documentation of Alfredo Kraus' Duke. Although he was about 60 years old at the time of this performance, his singing is flawless in tone, technique, and style. The only other DVD assumption of this role that can compare to Kraus' is Luciano Pavarotti's (in the Ponnelle film). Pavarotti plays up the Duke's lechery, whereas Kraus emphasizes his aristocratic mien. Pavarotti's voice is more sumptuous, but Kraus's distinctive tone fits the music perfectly, and his singing of "Parmi veder" is superior to Pavarotti's. Kraus interpolates a high "D" at the conclusion of "Possente amor" that obviously thrills the notoriously finicky Parma audience, which later demands (but does not receive) an encore of "La donna e mobile."Although I thought of Kraus as the main attraction when I bought this DVD, it is Leo Nucci's performance of the title role that makes this a great performance. Nucci's singing is the best I have ever heard from him in any role. I had always thought of him as a vocally reliable but bland interpreter, but on this occasion he projects the essence of Rigoletto's character in a way that is both moving and beautiful to hear. His voice is in marvelous condition. He has the breath control and legato for "Deh, non parlare" and the powerful top notes for "Si, vendetta." He is even better than Ingvar Wixell (in the Ponnelle film).Luciana Serra (Gilda) is not quite in the same class as her two colleagues, but she sings well and looks good and her powerful top notes are an advantage in the "Si, vendetta" duet with Nucci. The rest of the cast is good, and although Angelo Campori may not be the most renowned of maestros, his conception of this opera is right on the money. The production is attractive and traditional, without any of the directorial stupidities seen in the Ponnelle film. All in all, this is my favorite video of Rigoletto.My recommendation: don't worry about the picture; you'll get used to it. Buy this DVD and concentrate on the performance."
RIGOLETTO IN THE DARK
george wols | VERNON, B.C. Canada | 07/25/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"THIS DVD TRANSFER HAS A LOT TO BE DESIRE. IN ACT1 GILDA IS SO FAR OUT OF FOCUS THAT YOU CAN HARDLY SEE HER UPPER TORSO .IN ACT 2 THIS IS BETTER THE AUDIO IS VERY GOOD; SPECIAL A. KRAUS;L.SERRA VOICE GET SHRIL IN THE HIGHEST NOTES OTHERWISE SOUND IS GOOD .L NUCCI VOICE IS EXCELENT."