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I already had a videotape of this performance of Pagliacci, but couldn't view it because of problems on the VCR, so I gladly bought the DVD and it fulfilled all my wishes. The transcription from 2 35mm films plus one 16 mm film was a triumph for the people who made the transfer. The quality of the resultant DVD was excellent and I admire the patience and skills deployed in the process. Almost certainly the final version was superior to the raw materials used in its production - all the grain and other unwanted artefacts in the original had gone and the DVD was superbly clean with excellent sound quality - a vital aspect of a recording of a classic opera performance by Gobbi, who was famous for his voice and for his acting ability.
It is now a proud member of my collection and I expect to view and listen to it on many occasions in the future.
The recording of "Hits from Guglielmo Tell" which so far as I was concerned was a make-weight, disappointed and I am unlikely to want to see it often.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A little gem5 Feb. 2007
R. de Aquino
- Published on Amazon.com
This filmed version of PAGLIACCI is a little gem. Beautifully staged, excellently acted, its superb b/w cinematography presented in a restored, fine print, this is a DVD to be treasured. Gobbi is in great voice; Lollobrigida, at 20, is simply divine: a sensual nymph, an Arcadian shepherdess one dreams of meeting in Italian woods.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
THE definitive Pagliacci!3 Oct. 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
Okay, it's not the perfect video; despite my 5-star rating, I want to make that clear. It's black and white; the voice dubbing is often out of synch; the English subtitles disappear altogether for long stretches. I can see how these and other issues related to the film's age could mar the experience for some viewers.
Not for me, though! The performances on here are SO FABULOUS that they make the technical problems pale into insignificance. I believed in the love, the lust, the bitterness, the searing anguish, and the unbearable pain of these characters, and I will always think of this cast and this performance whenever I hear this music again. I watched the Placido Domingo video the day after seeing this one, and despite the wonderful Teresa Stratas, it does NOT measure up to this one (except technically, of course).
I would like to thank the reviewer of the Placido Domingo "Pagliacci" DVD who made a point to recommend this video over that one. I would never have considered it on my own, since it never occurs to me to look for operas on video any more, now that DVDs exist. But now I hope others will discover this one and will be enthralled from start to finish the way I was. You won't soon forget Tito Gobbi in his stunningly different dual roles of Tonio and Silvio, or the ravishing beauty of Gina Lollobrigida. The sudden, raging thunderstorm that crashes down at the end is beautifully done and is the perfect coda to a master work, as your hair stands on end as if from the lightning on screen ...
Oh, and the clips from "William Tell" are very enjoyable, too. :-)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Best Pagliacci DVD7 May 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Masini's voice is huge, steely and ringing. Gobbi may well be the century's most interesting and complex Italian baritone. Here he plays both Tonio and Silvio, differentiating the parts not only in physical characterization and appearance but in vocal color. Not content with finding one timbre for each, he offers fabulous variety of shading, beyond anything attempted by Fischer-Dieskau or Prey in their repertories. His only weak spot is lack of real tenderness as Silvio. Fineschi puts her heart into Nedda, singing with the beguiling pomegranatelike sound of Italian sopranos of the 30s. Her screen counterpart, Lollobrigida, makes it easy to understand why the three men run amok. Soler's clarion tones make him more suitable for Arnoldo (in Tell) than anyone since. Both prints are crisp and detailed.
Alan Blyth, reviewing in Gramophone
"Tito Gobbi is another singer whose art is well preserved on film. Pagliacci features him as both Tonio and Silvio and was an early attempt to film on location, pre-echoing Zeffirelli in this work. The sultry Gina Lollobrigida was engaged to play Nedda to Onelia Fineschi's excellent singing. Oddly the baritone Afro Poli mimed Canio to the dramatic tenor Galliano Masini's superbly accented singing ('Vesti la giubba' impassioned and long-breathed). Gobbi gives an object-lesson in line and style in the Prologue, then goes way over the top as Tonio before adding a handsomely sung and convincingly acted Silvio. Giuseppe Morelli conducts Rome forces."
David McKee, reviewing in The Opera Quarterly
"In a virtuoso double-dip, Tonio and Silvio are both Tito Gobbi, who even shares the screen with himself in one shot. His Tonio is tousled, mentally retarded, and morally warped; his Silvio cuts a dashing figure with slicked-back hair and a Clark Gable mustache. Vocally, Gobbi differentiates his characterizations by subtleties of diction, tone color, phrasing, and texture (Silvio light and almost crooning, Tonio rough and forthright).
"Afro Poli's leonine, tortured Canio visually embodies the steel-lunged and dangerous-sounding voice of Galliano Masini. Soprano Onelia Fineschi is likewise supplanted by actress Gina Lollobrigida. Adept at lip-synching, La Lollobrigida also makes it clear why every man is dripping with lust for Nedda.
"One stunning shot shows a terrified Nedda prone, straight on, with the footlights arrayed behind her and rows of spectators extending beyond: a near 3-D effect."
Michael Tanner, reviewing in Classic CD
5 Stars (highest rating)
"Gobbi is again possessed as Tonio/Silvio in Pagliacci, in which Nedda is acted by the sexpot Gina Lollobrigida, Canio is sung by the underrated Galliano Masini. This is a filmed opera, with advanced necking sequences, only passed by the censor, I suspect, because it was opera."
Joe Pearce, President of the Vocal Record Collectors' Society
"For fifty years now, this Pagliacci has been my all-time favorite Italian film of an opera. It is the nearest thing to a film noir of any opera film, owing some of its verismo film style to the great postwar Italian film school. The final ten minutes are as well-realized a filmic presentation of opera as I have ever seen."
Tully Potter, reviewing in International Opera Collector
"The fiery performance, conducted by Giuseppe Morelli with the Rome Opera Chorus and Orchestra, knocks all recent digital efforts into a cocked hat. A few cinematic liberties seem permissible to me and this is surely one of the best films of an opera."
Bert Wechsler, reviewing in Music Journal
"This Pagliacci is a great film. It is as if the exemplary Italian director Mario Costa had realized a Tennessee Williams play. It is musically very strong: beginning with the strangest anti-dramatic "Prologue" imaginable, each singer is at his absolute best".
To see an impassioned scene from this Pagliacci DVD for free, visit the Bel Canto Society site.
The booklet for the DVD version contains a detailed synopsis and an essay by Stefan Zucker:
José Soler: Among the Last Heroic Tenors
Heard on the DVD and VHS of #657 (Pagliacci plus Guglielmo Tell Highlights) in the prototypical heroic-tenor role of Arnoldo, in Tell, José Soler was one of the last of the breed. Heroic-tenor roles have more high notes than parts written for dramatic tenor and call for a leaner, more focused sound. Since Caruso and Del Monaco the world has thought of dramatic tenors as having thick, heavy voices and sounding like baritones. But baritonal tenors typically cannot undertake parts such as Arnoldo, with its 19 high Cs and two C-sharps, not to mention interpolated high notes mandated by the style. (In the trio "O libertade o morte" Soler sings a high C-sharp, without apparent effort.)
In the 19th century and the early part of the 20th, such roles were sung by heroic tenors. Meyerbeer and his contemporaries wrote a number of roles for this voice type. Along with the works themselves, tenors suited to them have become extinct. They sounded like lyric tenors but with ultra-brilliant, penetrating high notes and sometimes, as is the case with Soler, weak lower-middle and bottom ones. Such tenors are ill suited to verismo repertory, where it's the middle that counts, as well as to most Verdi. Although Soler sang Manrico, it's hard to imagine he was successful in Acts II and IV, which lie in the middle.
By Soler's time the heroic-tenor repertory wasn't performed, with the exception of an occasional Tell or Gli Ugonotti, so he had no choice but to appear in Aïda and other operas associated with dramatic rather than heroic tenors. He wasn't the only one with a foot in each camp, however. Francesco Tamagno, who genuinely seems to have fallen between the categories, in addition to creating Verdi's Otello, sang Tell and Ugonotti. Jean De Reszke and Caruso, who also sang lyric and dramatic parts, assayed Ugonotti. Leo Slezak and Helge Rosvaenge sang wide-ranging repertories that encompassed Otello and Tell. Giovanni Martinelli, who sang lyric and dramatic parts, also performed Tell and Ugonotti. Giacomo Lauri-Volpi, more suited to Tell and Ugonotti, each of which he performed, also sang some performances of Otello. Corelli, who started out in the dramatic repertory, for a time aspired to the heroic; he sang Ugonotti but abandoned the idea of performing Tell, which has more high notes. De Reszke, Caruso, Corelli and possibly Martinelli transposed, simplified or omitted some of the higher-flying sections in Ugonotti. Still, these singers are reminders that the demarcation lines of all vocal categories are elastic.
Some Wagner tenors are heroic; others are dramatic. Melchior, who began as a baritone, became a dramatic tenor. He maintained that:
A baritone quality points the way to the dramatic or heroic Wagnerian tenor, the so-called Schwererheld [sic] [a heavy hero]--Siegfried, Tristan, Tannhäuser. [I]f you begin as a high baritone.you have only to make the middle high of the voice a little lighter. . . . [that is to say] the baritone's three top notes, E, F, and G, must be filed down to match his lower notes....Then he must add three top notes, A, B, and C. [See Shirlee Emmons's Tristanissimo: The Authorized Biography of Heroic Tenor Lauritz Melchior, Schirmer Books, 1990, pp. 51, 14 and 43.]
So great was Melchior's influence that for more than a generation Wagner tenors were measured against him. But some of his predecessors and contemporaries were heroic tenors. Some examples are Giuseppe Borgatti, Karl Burrian, Ivan Ershov, Nikander Khanaev, Ernst Kraus, Ettore Parmeggiani, Johannes Sembach, Jacques Urlus (sometimes) and Walter Widdop.
Melchior spoke of himself as a heroic tenor and Emmons calls him that, no doubt translating from the German Heldentenor. But in fact he was a dramatic tenor who sang the Heldentenor repertory. Whether Wagner's original tenors were dramatic tenors or heroic tenors, no one today can say.
Soler's vowels are bright. Like others in the heroic-tenor category, his voice has ring or ping--what Italians call "squillo." Some dramatic tenors have squillo, Del Monaco for example. Squillo gives a tone elemental excitement. Most singers merely have resonance, which in and of itself is never exciting. Tones without squillo cannot pierce or punch. They may exude sorrow but not violent rage. For me, singers lacking squillo never can be entirely satisfying as, say, Verdi's Otello, a dramatic-tenor part, or as Arnoldo. The full-bodied tones of Carreras and Domingo may please, but they cannot thrill. To thrill, such singers have to rely on the use to which they put their tones, on musical interpretation or vocal acting.
Sung tones come in three categories: closed, open and covered. In spoken French, for example, there are two "ah" sounds: the "ah" in "jamais" is closed, that in "théâtre" open. Covering involves darkening the tone and modifying vowels almost as if some were schwas, like the "uh" sounds in "America." Open speaking and covered speaking sound artificial. But used judiciously open singing and covered singing can enhance expression.
Unlike Léonce-Antoine Escalaïs, a turn-of-the-century heroic tenor, Soler doesn't cover his tones. Instead he uses closed tones. (For more on the subject of closed, open and covered tones see the booklet to #D504, Non ti scordar di me. In that DVD Gigli demonstrates all three kinds.)
Like many singers from early in the 20th century, Soler sings the vowel "oo" with an umlaut, as "ü." This practice more or less died out before W.W. II.
He places his voice far forward in the face, in the area singers refer to as the "mask." Unlike Del Monaco and Corelli, neither of whom used mask placement, he doesn't obtain squillo by singing with his larynx kept low.
Soler, born in Catalonia, in 1904, appeared in Spain in the late 30s and early 40s and in Italy after the war. His records are extremely rare apart from a 1953 Andrea Chénier, with Tebaldi. He died in 1999.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Steffi Rath17 April 2012
Steffi B. Rath
- Published on Amazon.com
If like me, you are a Tito Gobbi fan, this DVD is a must have. Not only is his voice at its very best but he manages to sing the TWO baritone roles of I Pagliacci - Tonio and Silvio - and unless you know it, you would never guess that it is one and the same singer. The reason I have given this DVD only 3 stars, is that this black and white opera is pretty dated. Especially in the "Hits from Guglielmo Tell" - the scenery, the costumes and even some of the singers are apt to look slightly ridiculous by today's standards and, of course, the sound is far from stereo. However, if you appreciate Tito Gobbi, you'll find him at his best and will gladly overlook any drawbacks. I also have his "Rigoletto" and, once more, he is just as awesome. Many, many years ago, I have had the great fortune of attending a concert with Tito Gobbi, accompanied on the piano by his wife. To me, there are only very few baritones who can come close to him - even fewer who are his equal.
If you are a Tito Gobbi fan you will probably enjoy this DVD16 Sept. 2013
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I'm an admirer of Tito Gobbi, one of the great (if not the greatest) baritones of his generation. For instance, his interpretation of Rigoletto, recorded with Maria Callas, is in my opinion without doubt the best musical interpretation that you can find even today of that lovely opera. Unfortunatelly it is only available in CD's.
In light of the above I decided to acquire this DVD, knowing in advance that it is taken from an old movie. The true is that, as expected, it'isn't a recording of good quality by today standards with some shortcomings both in image and sound). In spite of that I don't regret having bought it.If you are a Gobbi fan as I happen to be, then you will probably also enjoy this DVD.