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Verdi - Otello (Von Karajan) (Region 0) (NTSC) [1974] [DVD] [2005]

Peter Glossop , Stefania Malagu , Roger Benamou    Exempt   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £13.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Verdi - Otello (Von Karajan) (Region 0) (NTSC)  [1974] [DVD] [2005] + Karajan: Mascagni - Cavallero Rusticana/Leoncavallo - I Pagliacci [DVD] [2008]
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Product details

  • Actors: Peter Glossop, Stefania Malagu, Aldo Bottion, Michel Sénéchal, Mario Macchi
  • Directors: Roger Benamou
  • Writers: Arrigo Boito, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Fritz Buttenstedt
  • Format: Classical, DVD-Video, PAL
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
  • DVD Release Date: 9 May 2005
  • Run Time: 141 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007P0LP2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 123,146 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Verdi's 'Otello' performed by Mirella Freni, Stefania Malagu, Jon Vickers, Peter Glossop, Aldo Bottion, Michel Senechal, Jose Van Dam, Mario Maccho, Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin and the Berliner Philharmoniker.

Product Description

regia: herbert von karajancast: cantantialdo bottion cassiojon vickers otellomichel senechal roderigomirella freni desdemonapeter glossop jago


Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not the best 'Otello' 15 May 2005
By A Customer
Format:DVD
Jon Vickers is an outstanding Moor of Venice in this production. His inimitable tenor is ideal for a character that is basically self-doubting and insecure, despite the initial impression given when he returns home victorious from beating the Turks. He makes an interesting contrast to Domingo in the Zeffirelli version. Mirella Freni was at the height of her powers when this recording was made. She is an affecting, but not ideal, Desdemona: the crown here goes to Katia Ricciarelli (who looks better too) in the Zeffirelli version. The final scene, one of the greatest in all opera, in which Otello murders his wife is more prosaically presented: Zefferilli's dark shadows and moonlight is much more poetic and tragic, a clear link with the love music that ends Act One. The high point in this recording is the scene in which Otello mocks his wife - very well staged here, and Vickers injects just the right timbre into his voice. The only 'downside' to this version is one common to many of von Karajan's opera recordings - the voices are clearly dubbed, very noticeable when the characters sing out without any apparent physical strain. We are reminded that this is a 'film' rather than an 'opera' . Against that, and in contrast to the Zefferelli version, we have all the opera, without the unfortunate cuts it made in the final act. The other good news is that Universal has just released this in a new format.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Well sung but not complete 24 Jun 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Karajan makes cuts in this performance. A particularly bad one occurs in the ensemble from the third act. Also, Glossop's Italian is rather suspect. Freni is excellent and Vickers is sensitive to the drama.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars otello 1 Mar 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
sent wrong booklet - for marriage of figaro - but am sending back for otello one. jps.
three more words
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best video "Otello" 17 Aug 2002
By Robert G. VanStryland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This film by Hebert von Karajan is the best rendition of Verdi's "Otello" available in any video format. The conducting and singing are superb and the drama is expressed with the utmost intensity. Jon Vickers is the best Otello in recent memory, superior even to Placido Domingo in vocal and dramatic power. Mirella Freni is a bit light-voiced for Desdemona, but she sings beautifully and looks like an angel. Peter Glossop sings the role of Iago with beauty and power, and sets just the right tone of evil playfulness. Picture and sound quality are both just fine. The supporting cast is wonderful, too, and includes Jose van Dam (Lodovico) and Michel Senechal (Roderigo).
Karajan's cinematography is not as polished as Zeffirelli's, but it does present the essentials of the drama honestly and straightforwardly. The Zeffirelli film, although it has an excellent cast and looks beautiful, is an abomination. Starting with a perfectly good soundtrack, Zeffirelli proceeded to destroy Verdi's dramatic and musical conception by cutting out little snippets of the score (seemingly almost at random) to bring his movie to a length of less than two hours. As far as I know, his film has never been issued on DVD. I hope nobody bothers with it. Karajan's film is more stagebound and the lip synch isn't perfect, but his version is complete and dramatically compelling.
There are two other good renditions of this opera on DVD: a London (Royal Opera) performance with Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Sergei Leiferkus and a 1958 RAI telecast with Mario del Monaco, Rosanna Carteri, and Renato Capecchi, conducted by Tullio Serafin. The London performance is beautifully played and sung, but it's dramatically less intense than Karajan's film. The Italian telecast is a wonderful historical document, but it is better to hear than it is to see. The monaural sound is good and the black and white picture is clear enough, but the singers don't always appear comfortable lip-synching to a prerecorded sound track. Nevertheless, I recommend that you get it for the remarkable performances of del Monaco and Capecchi. But if you're looking for the one best "Otello" video, Karajan's is it.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vickers is Otello 18 Nov 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I bought the disc for two reasons: first, that I had the pleasure of seeing Vickers in this role at Covent Garden in the early 1980s (a memory I would not trade for worlds); and second, that I'm always on the lookout for operas filmed cinematically rather than just taped stage productions. Vickers is every bit as powerful, vocally and otherwise, in this production as he was on stage, besides being paired with a superb Desdemona in Mirella Freni. The sound is luscious, though perhaps the dynamic range is too broad. As for the staging, it is a bit "stagey" despite the liberation of the camera from the proscenium view; even the storm lashing the beach looks suspiciously like buckets of water being tossed onto the stage. But what we have here is an honest attempt to present the opera as an opera rather than as a movie in the Zeffirelli style. The burden of the performance is on the performers, not on the cinematographers, and they carry it creditably. The picture quality is excellent. Overall the disc is a wonderful record of one of the great roles in operatic history: Vickers as Otello.
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MAGNIFICENT OTELLO AND SUPERLATIVE KARAJAN 28 Jan 2003
By "jfmaniaci" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Verdi's Otello is the finest tragic opera ever written. The genial poet Boito wrote a beautifully compressed libretto that inspired Verdi to compose intensely dramatic, dynamic and complex music for great arias, duets and choral singing. Otello' s triumph over the Turks "Esultate!", the sweet and ethereal duet between Otello and his bride Desdemona "Già nella notte densa", Jago's cynical view on life "Credo in un Dio crudel", the revengeful oath-taking duet "Sì, pel Ciel marmoreo giuro!", Otello's regret for lost happiness "Dio, mi potevi scagliare", the andante then frenetic pezzo concertato of acclaims "Viva! Evviva!" (Venetian dignitaries, heralds, soldiers, Ladies and Gentlemen) ingrained with brooding soliloquies and utterances "...Emilia, una gran nube turba il senno d"Otello..." (Lodovico, Otello, Desdemona, Emilia, Jago), Desdemona's soulful prayer "Ave Maria", Otello's dishevelled suicide "Niun mi tema" and last heroic whisper "un altro bacio", the opera ending with two soft but solemn orchestral bars.
On 5 February 1887 at the Teatro alla Scala, Milano, Verdi staged the world premiere of Otello after 16 years of silence. During that period, he reflected for a long time on his experience and the musical evolution of opera. He felt he had to conceive successfully something new to stay abreast of times. Otello was born. Boito became a decisive collaborator. He wrote the libretto "a struttura continua" which allowed the great master to break the old scheme of arias, duets, recitatives and develop a completely continuous discourse.
Jon Vickers - The great Canadian tenor was born in 1926 at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. After studying under George Lampert in Toronto, he made his debut in 1954 as the Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto) with the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. During an illustrious career spanning over 28 years, he sang a variety of roles excelling in Beethoven's Fidelio as Florestan, the Wagnerians Siegmund, Parsifal and Tristan, the Italians Canio and Otello, the French Don José and the English Peter Grimes, in most of the major theatres of the world. His debut as Otello dates back to 1970 during the Salzburg Festival where he sang the role for the ensuing two years.
In this 1974 rendition of Otello, one senses Vickers' mastery of the role and profound identification with the character throughout. When called upon to put on show the arduous vocality of Otello, some mediocrity creeps in. "Esultate" is not in the Lauri-Volpi or Del Monaco's glorious Italian tradition, the key words "Vien" and "un bacio" in the ethereal, amorous duet "Già nella notte densa" are whispered although some redemption is restored with a well sustained mezza voce in "...Venere splende", the ferocious and solemn oath-taking duet with Jago is a bit disappointing at the end, where "Dio vendicator" is a surprisingly short and colourless squillo, "Dio, mi potevi scagliare" is good in the piano monotone but colourless in the squillo "...Oh, gioia!" but "Niun mi tema" is quite a remarkable fraseggio. His Italian diction is fair.
Mirella Freni - She belongs to the cream of Italian sopranos who made singing history from Storchio, Pandolfini, Favero, Pampanini, Olivero and recently to Scotto. Her Mimì was the most celebrated, perhaps the greatest of all Puccini's frail seamstresses. For vocal, expressive and scenic qualities, she became household name at Salzburg as Zerlina, Susanna, Elisabetta di Valois, last but not least Desdemona in the repertoire of the Austrian city' supreme son, Herbert von Karajan. Freni never performed better with any other conductor than with Karajan.
In this 1974 edition of Otello, her Desdemona is cajoled, inspired, advised, even pushed by Karajan to use colours, refinements and sfumature to which she was not used. Her amorous canto in the love duet, the passionate, pure-hearted and exhilarating lament "A terra...si...nel livido fango..." prostrate on the floor of the castle hall of ceremonies in front of the stupefied Venetian dignitaries, the meditative, sad recollections in the Willow song and soulful prayer "Ave Maria" in her bed chamber are striking proof of an exceptional voice-orchestra fusion.
Peter Glossop - A distinguished English baritone born in Sheffield and an excellent interpreter of the Italian Romantic Opera at Covent Garden and the major theatres of the world. His repertoire included Rigoletto, Count di Luna, Scarpia, Simon Boccanegra, Guy de Montfort (I Vespri Siciliani) and Jago. He had voice for sale, warm, expressive accents and great acting ability. His Rigoletto in particular was a voice of decades gone by.
In this 1974 edition of Otello, his Jago is almost unmatched. His scenic presence is imposing, gestures and facial expressions, supported by a good mezza voce, weave a diabolical cynicism of nearly Tito Gobbi's dimensions while his "Credo in un Dio crudel" crowns him as the Mephistophelean villain so much aspired by Verdi, who found the monologue "most beautiful and wholly Shakespearean!"
Herbert von Karajan - A native of Salzburg, he was only nineteen when he became permanent conductor at the Opera of Ulm in 1927, of Aquisgraine from 1935 to 1942, took the place of the great Wilhelm Furtwangler as conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1954 and became the Salzburg Festival director in 1956. He conducted in Italy frequently by interpreting Wagner and Mozart but also the Italian masters' operas, including Lucia, Falstaff, Traviata, Boheme and Cavalleria rusticana. He interpreted Tosca in Berlin, Trovatore in Vienna and Don Carlos at Salzburg. He was admired for a vast symphonic and operatic repertoire, conducting authority, live, incisive and dramatic style, great plasticity and constant pursuit of sound, vocal and orchestral beauty.
In this 1974 edition of Otello, Karajan is the orchestra conductor, artistic and stage director. Known for his unsurpassable analytical ability, he leads the orchestra to a dismembering of each detail of the score with the best timbre possible. The tempi and sound of this Otello as interpreted and executed by Karajan are majestic, glorious, solemn, totally innovative and mesmerising.
The staging is outdoors and not on the theatre platform. It is confined, done exquisitely and gives the impression of a stage production despite that the act I tempest scene is real and shot on the screen. The picture quality is excellent. The sound is superb stereo. Beautifully illustrated, the booklet is in English, German and French, contains a synopsis of the opera, no libretto but a partition of each act into the salient arias, duets, ensembles each accompanied by a very informative sequence of the plot and corresponding DVD track number.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An exciting production in every sense 15 July 2001
By Brian Wrangham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This production of Otello is indeed a masterpiece. The performances of the three principals -- Jon Vickers as Otello, Mirella Freni as Desdemona and Peter Glossop as the treacherous Iago - are among the best one could wish for. On this occasion, I believe Vickers is on par with Placido Domingo, a consummate interpreter of the role of Otello. Freni's performance here, as was generally the case, bought me close to tears. A nastier villian (Peter Glossop)one could not wish for. In my opinion, the dramatic intensity of these three performers is equal and in some respects superior to any thing else available on video. Technically the video is very good, with an excellent picture and impeccable PCM stereo sound. A CD version of this production was available for many years and I found it to be superlative. The artistic direction of von Karajan is full of authority and drama. It should be noted that this production was shot in a film studio and in this case, because of the flexibility this affords the director is superior to a presentation in an opera house. The opening storm scene is indeed electrifying in its impact.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make that five stars with some reservations 16 May 2006
By C. Boerger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Prior to buying this, I already owned two magnificent DVDs of Otello, so why bother with a third? First, this is a film as opposed to a staged production, so I was curious about what Herbert von Karajan could do with this opera, having already fallen in love with his film of Carmen. Second, this is Otello, often called the greatest and most perfect opera ever written, and a personal favorite of mine. Finally, I took a look at the names on the credits: von Karajan, Jon Vickers, Mirella Freni. That pretty much sealed the deal. After all, a person can never get too much of Otello.

Was it worth it? Overall, the answer is a resounding yes. As he did with Carmen, von Karajan has created a beautiful film that captures the essence of Verdi's music and themes. From a visual standpoint, this stands as one of the best opera films I've seen. Otello is an opera that starts with a bang, ends with a whimper, and the movie follows suit, opening with a convincing and violent seaside storm, ending with Otello's regret-filled death where he seems to simply fall asleep at Desdemona's side. In between those stunning moments is a film of great beauty and depth. The look of von Karajan's Otello is brooding and mysterious which matches the haunting music. The violence of the sea, the dark inner chambers contrast with bright outdoor scenes, capturing not only the contrasting souls of Otello and Desdemona but also the conflicting characteristics of Otello himself. Otello wants to be good, loyal, noble, in fact he IS all of these things throughout many aspects of his life and career, but there is an inner demon driving him toward his doom. Some might say that demon is Iago, but I see Iago as the impetus, the demon is something that dwells within and has always been there, long before the arrival of the story's "villain." In fact, I have always thought of Iago as less a flesh and blood character, more a manifestation of the Moor's own insecurities, his private yearnings and jealousies, his private rage, Otello's alter ego if you will. Von Karajan explores this provocative idea by casting a performer who looks quite similar to the actor portraying Otello.

Which brings me to the performances. Before Placido Domingo owned the role of Otello(and rightly so), the part belonged to the great heldentenor Jon Vickers. What is it about Vickers that makes him so good at playing deranged characters, Don Jose, Samson, Tristan, Peter Grimes and Otello? Possibly, it's his face, his weathered and wounded features, or perhaps that piercingly beautiful voice of his, that tragic quality of eternal longing and deep-seated despair. At any rate, I'm not sure if there has ever been a better Otello, a singing actor who brings the character's demons and pathos to life so convincingly. Mirella Freni captures both the strength and fragility of Desdemona, both through her appearance and her devastating singing. Her performance is solid throughout, but her Willow Song and Ave Maria are the highlight, under her command they become masterpieces of mood and transcendence, the calm before the storm, and even after dying she is still effective, looking lovely and heartbreaking, enough to melt the heart of the raging Otello. Peter Glossop captures the diabolical essence of Iago, making the character both despicable and seductive, so it is easy to imagine Otello being taken in. Oh, and his baritone voice is ideal for the role, masculine, deep, powerful, without being the slightest bit ragged.

Okay, so it's five stars for the opera(that goes without saying) and five stars for the film. So why am I hesitant to slap an unqualified five star rating on this puppy? Two reasons. One, the sound quality is less than stellar, it fluctuates throughout, with some of the quieter moments barely audible while the louder moments practically thunder out of the TV set. Visually the transfer is pristine, hardly grainy at all, you would think Deutsche Gramophone could have done a better job at remastering and balancing the sound. My second qualm: von Karajan commits the almost unforgivable sin of cutting part of E piangi!, the third act closer, that long and extraordinary number which starts quietly as an aria for Desdemona, builds into a full-blown ensemble and climaxes with a shattering crescendo. I admit, I'm something of a purist, on the whole I'm opposed to any cuts, especially to as lean a work as Otello, but when the cut happens to be in my favorite number in the whole opera I get especially irked. Granted, most of the piece is there, some listeners might not even notice the two or three minutes taken out, but I was annoyed. What's the point? The film, already close to two and a half hours long, would have been a few minutes longer. So what? The audience for this film isn't the multiplex crowd, people with low attention spans, it's opera lovers, people who don't care about sitting through a few extra minutes, they actually prefer it if it means preserving the integrity of the work. As I said, I was annoyed...but not enough to damn the project as a whole.

Because this is an artful Otello, a memorable Otello, an Otello I am very happy to own. Otello lovers should take note, so should any lover of opera on film. Von Karajan has done it again.
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