This full-blooded 1982 performance of Puccini's most-loved opera demonstrates just how much drive and powerful emotion can make up for a certain lack of subtlety. Cotrubas' Mimi is entirely moving in both joy and death, while never quite feeling as thoroughly frail as some of her quieter rivals; stronger tenor voices than Neil Shicoff's have recorded the role, and yet he has a Romantic passion and a dignity that many of his rivals fail to bring to the role. That under-rated singer Gwynne Howell is especially moving in Colline's farewell to his cloak--one of those perfect little showcase sections Puccini sometimes gives to minor parts. Marilyn Zschau's Musetta is broad and comic and yet somehow includes the audience in the glorious joke that her sexuality is for her; when Thomas Allen sings, to her waltz theme, of youth that is not yet dead, his ardour transcends realism. Gardelli knew this score in his bones--the production bounces along from comedy to tears to eroticism to tragedy and neither cast nor orchestra miss a single one of Puccini's wonderful touches of emotional exploitation. --Roz Kaveney
The 1999 Vienna production of Halvey's La Juive was a triumph revealing this grand opera to be a vast passionate and admirably constructed drama. One singer played an especially significant role in the success: Neil Shicoff who brings the character of Eleazar to life with breathtaking intensity. Shicoff has found the role that he was born to sing. The DVD features the revival of the Vienna State Opera in 2003 and offers exciting bonus material including the documentary Finding El
This performance of Verdi's La Traviata comes from the Gran Teatro La Fenice, Venice in 1992. The intimacy and social realism of the story make it one of the most dramatically successful of all operas, while the score contains some of the finest music of the 19th century. Despite the strong production values and well-staged party scenes, any production of La Traviata stands or falls on the performers in the vital roles of the lovers Violetta and Alfredo, and that of Alfredo's father, Giorgio. Here Giorgio Zancanaro is suitably decent and morally serious as Giorgio, and Neil Shicoff makes a strong impression as an ordinary man suddenly overwhelmed by love. The drawback is that--and there is no polite way to say this--Edita Gruberova is not only too old to play the sparkling young society girl, Violetta, but she is a much better singer than she is an actress. She comes into her own in the tragic last act, but is otherwise awkward and uncomfortable when the part requires her to demonstrate confidence and sensuality. This remains a production with considerable merits, but overall a more dramatically, not to say visually, compelling version is that originally broadcast world-wide live from Paris in 2000 starring Eteri Gvazava and José Cura.On the DVD: The production is presented at 4:3 with above average picture quality for a live opera DVD, and with excellent PCM stereo sound. The disc and booklet both offer a synopsis, but other than the option to watch with or without subtitles there are no special features. --Gary S. Dalkin
Opera Hits features many of opera's best-loved arias duets and choruses in performances from La Scala Milan La Fenice Venice The Royal Opera Covent Garden Arena di Verona and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. The extracts are taken from some of the world's favourite operas: La Traviata The Barber of Seville Tosca Andrea Chnier Orfeo ed Euridice Aida Gianni Schicchi Samson et Dalila Carmen Les Contes d'Hoffmann La Bohme Madama Butterfly and Nabucco.
Hoffmann a poet and composer is in love with the prima donna Stella. As the opera begins she is appearing in her most famous role: Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Hoffmann's Muse declares that she will win back the artist and protect him from any further amorous obsessions. In order to do so she will assume the identity of Hoffmann's friend Nicklausse.Councillor Lindorf also desires the diva Stella and he bribes her servant Andres into giving him a letter addressed to Hoffmann which contains the key to her dressing room. As the curtain falls on Act I of Don Giovanni Luther and his waiters hurriedly prepare for the arrival of Hoffmann and his friends.Hoffmann is in an agitated state of mind but is soon persuaded to sing the ballad of Kleinzack. While doing so he is distracted and recalls his first love. His friends bring him back to reality and he finishes the song. Suddenly Hoffmann sees Lindorf and a heated argument develops between them. Hoffmann reveals that Lindorf has always brought him bad luck. When three of the poet's friends boast about their mistresses Hoffmann declares that Stella embodies three types of woman: the young girl the artist and the courtesan. Hoffman asks his friends if they would like to hear about three of his past loves. Despite Luther's warning that the curtain is about to rise on Act II of Don Giovanni the crowd fill their glasses and prepare to listen to Hoffmann's tales.
Favorite Arias and Scenes by Rossini Mozart Bizet J. Strauss II Puccini Cilea Verdi & LeharRecorded live at the Theatre Square Dresden.
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