Verdi?s 1855 Paris opera which followed Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata is treated to a performance of blazing energy and intimate refinement with a superb cast which includes Cheryl Studer and Chris Merritt. The r... more »arely-seen third act ballet is included complete, with the internationally-acclaimed dancers Carla Fracci and Wayne Eagling. This is the eighth release in the La Scala Collection. The DVD includes a wonderful 28 page booklet with the full libretto. Picture Format: 4:3 ? Subtitles: GB ? Sound Format: Dolby Stereo« less
"I've been living in Asia for many years and I somehow missed hearing of Cheryl Studer. A few years back a friend played a cut from this DVD for me- Studer's singing of "Merce, diletti amiche," and I was hooked. What incredible singing- the voice radiant, the coloratura nearly flawless, the diction clear and clean.(Compare her singing with the very strange sounds that Martina Arroyo made in this aria in the 1974 recording with Levine). Studer's singing throughout just makes you glad to be alive.
Muti's conducting is also another reason to treasure this disc.The music is so beautiful and he approaches the score with delicacy and energy at the same time.The ballet is wonderful evidence of how fine his conducting is. Some have complained that this dance episode is too long but I can't hear it often enough.
For me Chris Merritt is the one fly in the ointment. I find his singing dry and colorless; but, at the same time, you sense that he is giving his all for Muti and this gorgeous music.(Domingo for Levine, in his early prime, is golden voiced). The rest of the cast and the staging are very fine.
I'm not a judge of sound but the transfer sounds great to me (better than the EMI disc). And it is very reasonably priced. Not to be missed, especially by Verdi lovers. "
A. BOSS | Mountainside, NJ United States | 01/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent DVD musically. The only fault I can find with it is a fault common to many DVDs of operas; some of the leading singers look much older than their rolls. In the opera house this is not a problem because you cannot see the singers closely enough to notice, but in movies, TV, and DVD closups this obvious age problem detracts from the overall effect. Since in operas, I consider the music to be the most important part, if I must choose between excellent singing and looking the part,I would choose excellent singing every time. Therefore, I give this DVD 5 stars."
Sweet from Act 3 on
Joseph Hart | Visalia, CA United States | 01/22/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The first act was a drag. The beginning of Act 2 was wonderful (Zancanaro's opening aria which was warm and beautiful got great applause), then the score wilted. But from Act 3 right up to the shocker of an ending, the whole thing was absolutely beautiful. Everyone sang wonderfully. The plot had enough devices to keep it interesting. I don't like ballet, but I enjoyed this one, the dancing was clever (but what did it mean?) and the music was beautiful and fun by turns. One note. Merritt's character in particular, but all the rebels in general seemed obsessed with a death wish! I want to die, would that I could die, it is better to die than to... Good grief! If they'd all had their way, the opera wouldn't have lasted 10 minutes, just a stage littered with contented corpses. And (sigh) why must everyone suffer so in a Verdi opera? I quibble. It's just old fashioned melodrama. I highly recommend this, first and second acts notwithstanding."
Another La Scala Stunner!
Maggie McQuigg | the 831 | 06/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My goal in viewing/listening to opera is to keep in touch with Italian language and get in touch with Italian opera culture in preparation for an upcoming trip. Someone with rudimentary Italian (io) could easily understand (without subtitles, but following the libretto and referring to the synopsis) this production of "I Vespri Siciliani" because it had communicative staging and costuming, decent (Furlanetto) to superior (Zancanoro) acting, and numerous closeups of the interactions of the main characters. One example of make-it-accessible stagecraft: The costumes of the male Sicilian chorus were probably historically inaccurate but expressive of place and station, showing the locals in clear contrast to the occupying French. I fast-forwarded through the (overly-long, not very interesting) ballet in Act III but was otherwise fully engaged throughout. Like other La Scala productions I've seen that were filmed by RAI TV, a first-rate theatrical performance made into a top-class home viewing experience."
My Favorite Vespri
Operafilly | Fallbrook, Ca United States | 07/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one Verdi role Merritt can handle beautifully. He and Zancanaro work beautifully together and both sound wonderful.
This is a pretty tuneful opera for such a macabre story. Rarely doe it have a soprano who can get thru the bolero beautifully and this is no exception. But Studer does as well as most.
As usual I fast forward thru the ballets......but thats just me. It would take the Bolshoi to keep me on play."