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Donizetti: Gemma di Vergy (Live, Teatro Donizetti Bergamo, Sep 2011) [NTSC all regions] [DVD]

Maria Agresta , Gregory Kunde , Laurent Gerber    Exempt   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 19.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Donizetti: Gemma di Vergy (Live, Teatro Donizetti Bergamo, Sep 2011) [NTSC all regions] [DVD] + Rossini: Ciro In Babilonia [Ewa Podle, Jessica Pratt, Michael Spyres, Mirco Palazzi] [Opus Arte: OA1108D] [DVD] [NTSC] [2013] + Matilde Di Shabran: Pesaro Festival (Mariotti) [DVD] [2013]
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Product details

  • Actors: Maria Agresta, Gregory Kunde, Mario Cassi, Chorus & Orchestra of Bergamo Music Festival, Roberto Brignoli (conductor)
  • Directors: Laurent Gerber
  • Format: Classical, Colour, DVD-Video, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: Italian, English, Japanese
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Bongiovanni
  • DVD Release Date: 10 Jun 2013
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00CSI6JP2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,269 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Donizetti's 'Gemma di Vergy' recorded live at the Teatro Donizetti, Bergamo in September 2011. Sung in Italian, with subtitles in Italian and English, and additionally with notes in Italian, English and Japanese. The DVD is in NTSC format, playable in all regions, with 16:9 widescreen format.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!! An All Time Great. Brilliant! 8 Jan 2014
By H. A. Weedon VINE VOICE
Verified Purchase
What can one say? Everything about this production of Donizetti's Gemma di Vergy is superb, magnificent, out of this world. Maria Agresta's performance of the main character, Gemma de Vergy, must easily rank as an all time great. Not only that, the other singer-actors were equally good in their roles. Both direction and staging are top quality and the costuming is spot on. I was especially impressed with the costume worn by Maria Agresta. It was so right for the part.

This is a work all about a strong woman around whom everyone else rotates as mere satellites, some of whom may think that they are setting the agenda, but all their agendas pale into insignificance beside that ultra-powerful one engineered by Gemma. The Conte di Vergy, brilliantly portrayed by Mario Cassi, may think he is in charge. Big mistake! Not only is he upstaged by Gemma, whom he feels obliged to set aside because she has, so far, failed to provide him with an heir, he also has to face another problem in the shape of Tamas, the Berber slave, perfectly performed by Gregory Kunde, who is in love with Gemma and is desperate to help her and make her happy.

Leonardo Galeazzi is perfectly cast as the Conte di Vergy's 'right hand man' torn between his loyalty to his master and his compassion for Gemma. All told, this performance simply fits together in the best possible fashion. The staging is right in every way: the chorus could not be bettered and the orchestration is top notch. It's hard to see how any of it could have been improved upon. All those involved are deserving of the highest praise. It's easy to talk about how, in a manner of speaking, Donizetti was 'squeezed' between Rossini and Verdi, but this opera alone gives the lie to that analogy.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEAUTIFUL PRODUCTION 19 Aug 2013
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Superb singing by all the artists. Lovely costumes and sets. Traditional staging. Overall, a great operatic experience. Worth the price.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem! 5 Dec 2013
By Dr. John W. Rippon - Published on Amazon.com
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Gemma d'Vergy (1834) is from the middle of Donizetti's career. He had already achieved fame and respect with Anna Bolena (1830), L'elisir d'amore (1832) and Lucrezia Borgia (1833) and was about to write Lucia di Lammermore (1835). Gemma became very very popular at the time of its writing; the number of it's performances far outdistanced any other of his operas until about 1900. This is about the time that Bel Canto style operas lost favor with the public and went out of fashion. The last record of a performance of the opera Gemma being in Empoli in 1901. Gemma is probably the most difficult role Donizetti wrote for soprano. It requires a specially gifted and trained 'soprano d' agilita' to master it. Gemma was not heard again until it was revived in 1975 by Montserret Caballe at the San Carlo, Naples and subsequently in Barcelona and New York. It is a daunting role and Ms. Caballe said that singing one Gemma is equivalent to singing three Normas. It is still rarely done because so few sopranos have the technical equipment to perform it.
The Fondazione Donizetti at the opera house in Bergamo is reviving most all of Donizetti's 65 or so operas. This one was recorded on September 16 & 18 in 2011 and the disc was released in 2013.
The story by librettest Bidera is based on a play by Alexander Dumas and concerns the arrival back at his castle in the French county of Berry of the Count of Vergy. The Hundred Years War with England is drawing to a close as one victory after another by Joan of Arc is forcing the English to retreat. The victorious Count has received an annulment of his marriage to his barren wife Gemma and intends to marry the younger Ida de Grevile. Gemma is outraged at this betrayal and vows not to be dismissed for the new bride and the tragedy ensues. Maria Agesta does a remarkably good job with this harrowing role. She is onstage most of the time with one emotional roller coaster after another. Her aria-finale has a complete range of conflicting emotions with ringing declamations and soft pianissimos. Not quite the equivalent of the Caballe CD of the work but a really truely moving experience. She is a star.
The tenor primo is unusual as it is the muslim slave Tamas who secretly loves Gemma and will cause the bloody ending of this tragedy. It is a big role and very well carried out by Gregory Kunde. The Count is the handsome, dapper Mario Cassi. He is a young singer of good quality baritone voice but is still in need of polishing of his vocal line and definately his acting. The others in the cast do very well with their roles especially the Guido of Leonard Galeazzi. The sets are handsome and work quite well. The costumes are delightful and bring a Medieval spirit to the work.
I drew particular pleasure from this disc from begining to end by the succession of one beautiful Donizetti melody after another. It is amazing that with some sixty years of experience with operas of all kinds that I'm still simply awed by the ever flowing beauty of the Donizetti pen. And I never tire of experiencing it. This Gemma is a gem showing the master craftsman at his pulsing dramatic best to a "big bow-wow" ending. Yes there are some uneven passages in this as in most all of his operas but I always want to hear them again and again. I haven't heard all of the sixty some operas yet but....... I'm still here.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great 27 Nov 2013
By Lorenzo - Published on Amazon.com
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This was a wonderful opera. The costumes and sets were more traditional, perhaps more simple than you would find at the MET. Yet, it was a very affective opera. Donizetti has many beautiful melodious music and it is a pleasure to see that it is not reduced by taking it out of period as you find sometimes. The singers were very good and the soprano singing Gemma was outstanding. The music was wonderful. Donizetti is a master of melody. For the number of operas he wrote, it always surprises me what variety you find in his melodies. You do not find often several melodies pulled from other operas as sometimes the case with Rossini. You can't go wrong purchasing this opera if you like Donizetti. Could the opera be improved? Yes, but it is a very good performance.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Bel Canto!!! 1 Jan 2014
By John G. Gleeson Sr. - Published on Amazon.com
I had to go to Amazon's UK store to get this beauty and am so glad that I did. The other reviewers have described what a hugely melodious and well performed opera this is and I concur. It is one of many "forgotten operas" that amply justifies the ongoing renaissance in the bel canto period.

The story seems to fit the "silly plot" reason many past and some present music scholars use to denegrate anything that is not Wagner, verismo or very late Verdi (which is itself ludicrous, but that discussion is for another time and place). But the story of a woman divorced by her husband for failure to produce an heir is replete with dramatic moments, which Donizetti presents perfectly with music and which stage director Roberto Rizzi Brignoli makes the most of in his thankfully traditional staging. The confrontation betwenn ex-wife Gemma and wife-to-be Ida is very tense and well done.

Maria Agresta (Gemma) is a wonder! Hers is a huge, supple voice, capable of runs and trills and pianissimi galore. There is no extended top, so I am sure that some will criticize her much in the same way as they do Netrebko. Nonetheless, she does a superlative job in a role that has her doing a lot of extended singing. I hope that we see and hear more of her. Brava!!

As her husband, Il Conte di Vergy, Mario Cassi is excellent. His is a really rich baritone and he executes his part to near perfection. And he can act.

As his lieutenant Guido, baritone Leonardo Galeazzi is similarly gifted. His is a lovely mellifluous voice, nicely produced through the range.

Tenor Gregory Kunde (Tamas) has been singing for a long time and it shows. The voice is a bit dry and there is a bit of a wobble from time to time. While he hits all the notes, I hear some strain on the high notes, many of which end quickly, suggesting some breath issues. He has excellent stage presence and the audience clearly likes his work.

Disc quality is quite good as far as the picture goes, but in the age of HD and DTS surround, whatever were the folks at Bongiovanni thinking when this disc was issued in stereo only sound format? Hopefully this issue will be resolved by them in future releases. It would have occasioned a one star subtraction, except for the fact that this splendid work will probably not see another DVD release any time soon and the performance is simply superb.

Edit: Having seen an "unauthorized" DVD of Agresta doing I Puritani, my earlier comment on her lack of an extended top is dead wrong. She's the real deal!!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Donizetti's Gemma comes to life! 23 Dec 2013
By Daniel Conway - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
A wonderful production of a Donizetti rarity. I have been listening to the Monseratt Cabelle/Renato Bruson cd for many years now. It was a joy to learn that a new production was available on DVD, and I have not been at all disappointed. Maria Agresta as Gemma is superb--as is the Count sung by Mario Kassi. Gregory Kunde's infidel, Tamas, is sung with passion, outrage and ferocity. It is worth the price of the DVD just to hear and see this great American tenor at work.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dual discovery 7 Jan 2014
By Ilmusico - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This cogently dramatic opera is ripe for revival; it is a vehicle for a major spinto soprano (Caballe sang it in the seventies) and it has one in Agresti who, although unknown to me, is on the verge of a major career. She is magnificent and deserves the ovation she receives at the curtain call. The supporting cast is satisfactory and the production fine. Highly recommended.
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