Boccanegra Verdi Drama at its' Best
Scott Holmes | Wilmette, IL United States | 04/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Boccanegra is not always considered and audience-pleaser, but this DVD could quite possibly change your mind. Four fine singers, a beautiful production (originally debuting in Chicago in 1974 with this reviewer in the Chorus) and fine video reproduction are strong recommendations. Anna Tomowa-Sintow is vocally and visually radiant in her role, especially in her duet with Boccanegra (Sherril Milnes), just listen to her long held note, steady as a rock at the end of that duet and Milnes' perfectly placed pianissimo for his final note a few seconds later. Vasile Moldoveanu never set the world on fire with his three telecasts at the Met (Don Carlo and IL Tabarro), but he is solid, reliable, easy on the eyes compared with many other tenors of his time -- and is certainly acceptable. Paul Plishka, then in his prime is a fine Fiesco and a good foil for his enemy Boccanegra. When the curtain goes up on the Council Chamber Scene, the audience gasps, (it always did in Chicago) as the enormous stained glass window dominates the entire background of the scene which (added later by Verdi) is the focal point of the opera. Has Verdi ever been more powerful than during the "Vo gridando pace" ensemble? If you don't know this opera, please take a chance on it with this video. ....if you do know this opera add it to your collection with total confidence. A treasure, and a triumph for Milnes and Tomowa-Sintow. Levine and the Met Orchestra and Chorusaren't too shabby either: the chorus's whispered curses of "Sia maledetto!" at the end of the Council Chamber scene are hair-raising. Slightly grainy black backgrounds are the only visual drawback, but they are quickly gotten used to. Run out and plunk down your 30 or so dollars. Enjoy!"
Playing it safe
D. A. Morgan | UK | 12/03/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a traditional period Boccanegra (rather gloomy sets) with Milnes suitably imposing in the name part. That said, his voice is not at its best and Anna Tomowa-Sintow as Amelia is a little too matronly for my tastes. She sings affectingly when required to, though, which is more than can be said of Gabriele (Vasile Moldoveanu), probably the weakest of the principals. In the pit, James Levine drives the music too hard, so climaxes are inclined to be a touch overpowering and not a little brash. If you want to hear the subtleties and nuances of the score try the audio recording conducted by Abbado on DG - quite a revelation, and well cast, too). Video director Brian Large (usually reliable) is caught out a few times and there is the odd sensation as singers move from one side of the stage to the other and the vocal image falters, caught in a no man's land between the microphones. Very distracting. In sum, watchable enough but not one to die for."
Vocal and dramatic mastery
Scott Holmes | 05/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is a testament to the artistry of Sherrill Milnes. He is vocally stunning, as well as dramatically dominating. The expression on his face as the curtain falls on the Council Chamber scene is intense. The other singers are good as well, although there are a few places where the tenor has some pitch problems. The reviewer below had a pretty accurate discription of the other stars. The father-daughter duet is marvelous and Milnes' pianissimo is emotional. The production is visually strong and thankfully faithful. Anyone who loves this work will want this, but those unfamiliar are encouraged to try it as well, especially if Verdi appeals to them. Dana Hill"