But the staging costs this otherwise superb Atilla one star. That's because it is done in the tiny (300 seats; 30 m stage) Teatro Giuseppe Verdi in the maestro's home town of Busetto. I have seen DVDs of performances there that worked, but this one, despite valiant efforts, does not quite make it. The stage director, to make up for the lack of spaces, projects computer graphics on a screen at the rear of the stage to create the sense of more space, as well as other effects. In the second scene in the Prologue, the Adriatic Lagoons, work very well when projected, but in other cases, the effect is less than effective.
Vocally and dramatically, though, this is one "kick butt" performance!
Bass Giovanni Battista Parodi is a very effective Attila, but he is no Sam Ramey, who owned this role for years (his La Scala performance with Cheryl Studer is available on DVD and is worth owning despite a so-so tenor). But after a bit of warming up, Parodi delivers the goods. (The helmet he wears in the first scene looks like the headgear of the alien in "Predator", though, which is a distraction)
So does Susanna Branchini, who is new to me, as Odabella. There is a visceral intensity to her portrayal, which suits the role to a "T". She is vocally secure from top to bottom and pulls of some very nice emotion in her duets with her squeeze, Foresto.
Roberto De Biasio is a hugely effective Foresto. Musically and dramatically he is the real deal, and has been such in every performance of his I have seen.
Sebastian Catana is a very good baritone who does a solid job bringinging Ezio to life. His aria in the prologue in which he tries to ally with Attila is especially well executed, with one of Verdi's best baritone phrases (Take the whole world, but leave Italy for me)being particularly effective.
Conductor Andrea Battistoni does an excellent job, fully realizing the score, in my opinion.
Of course, this is "early Verdi", which to me means tuneful and highly driven music which is very enjoyable, as far as I am concerned. And it is regional Italian opera upon which some frown ( but not I!) with less of a budget than the major opera houses have, with attendant quality differences in staging, costumes, etc.
I have no idea what goodies will pour forth from the DVD folks in 2013, the bicentennial of Verdi's birth, so there well may be an Atilla with a bigger budget. But there is something about the intensity of regional opera in Italy, particularly in Parma, which is in the heart of "Verdi Country" that does not translate to the urbane big city houses to which I relate. The audience here is not just happy with the performance, it is ecstatic, with all the screams, etc. that make this evident.
I really like this Atilla and wish that I could have given it that fifth star. But in fairness to you, gentle reader, full disclosure of good and bad is required.
Disc quality, both visual and sound (DTS) is first rate; subtitles abound.
I suspect that some Amazon sellers will get the price down in a bit; when that happens, I urge you to snap it up and post your reaction(s) as comments here.