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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive production of an underrated early Verdi
By the time Verdi came to compose Giovanna D'Arco in 1845, the composer was eager to take on more substantial works of literary merit with the kind of romantic scope and emotional range that suited and appealed to his musical sensibility. He had engaged the young poet Francisco Maria Piave to work on his Victor Hugo adaptation, Ernani, and he would soon come to tackle...
Published 22 months ago by Keris Nine

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Technical problems with Lip Sync, and dodgy intonation
My first Tutto Verdi Bluray disc, and possibly my last if they are all like this. Lip sync wanders, usually at the start of a phrase, but seems to get corrected by the DVD/Bluray authoring and encoding when the character singing is full face on to the camera. I fear that I shall have to return it to Amazon as once you notice this technical defect it spoils one's attention...
Published 15 months ago by Michael


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive production of an underrated early Verdi, 3 Feb 2013
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Keris Nine - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: Giovanna D'Arco (Parma 2008) (Bowers/ Bruson/ Vassileva/ Bruno Bartoletti/ Gabriele Lavia) (C Major: 721304) [Blu-ray] [2012][Region Free] (Blu-ray)
By the time Verdi came to compose Giovanna D'Arco in 1845, the composer was eager to take on more substantial works of literary merit with the kind of romantic scope and emotional range that suited and appealed to his musical sensibility. He had engaged the young poet Francisco Maria Piave to work on his Victor Hugo adaptation, Ernani, and he would soon come to tackle his first Shakespeare work with Macbeth the following year. For Giovanna D'Arco, Verdi found inspiration in Friedrich von Schiller's story of Joan of Arc, finding material for a true dramma lirico that was a match for his developing talent, but also clearly responding personally to the revolutionary sentiments that echoed with the contemporary reality of Risorgimento Italy.

The grand epic nature of the story and Verdi's responsiveness towards it is immediately evident in the composer's scoring for the overture and in his personal reworking of the material. Giovanna D'Arco deals with a classic high Romantic subject in the conflict between love and duty, caught up in a tense dramatic situation that involves war, revolution, family and religion - subjects that Verdi would often deal with, and there's a similarity between this work and something like La Forza del Destino. While later Verdi would be more refined in characterisation and dramatic development - neither Giovanna D'Arco nor Macbeth are matches for the later Schiller and Shakespeare adaptations of Don Carlos or Otello, nor indeed is the earlier Hugo Ernani comparable to his work on the later Rigoletto - but Verdi's earlier work has its attractions, principally here in the composer's beautiful melodic line and the consistency of his treatment of the opera's themes. Broken down into Grand Opéra-like scenes - the King's vision, the chorus of angels and demons in Act I alone - the construction may be conventional and not exactly inspired but it is exceptionally well crafted, pointing clearly towards the direction and the strengths of the later Verdi.

The quality of this rarely performed and underrated work is made evident here in this 2008 performance at the Teatro Regio di Parma's Verdi Festival through a handsome production that is sympathetic to the style and nature of the work, and it also benefits from some excellent singing performances. Other than a painted backdrop depicting a Risorgimento cavalry charge - nothing more than a hint of what might have been on Verdi's mind while composing - the production design and costumes are traditional and naturalistic to the Joan of Arc story itself. It's beautifully lit and staged, transforming smoothly from one scene to the next, finding an appropriate look and tone that brings out the full impact of each highly charged situation. The placing of the performers - the stage often filled with the huge choruses composed by Verdi - also works to the best dramatic purpose, with little in the way of stagy theatrics or operatic mannerisms.

The singing of all three lead roles is excellent. Svetla Vassileva's performance - as it ought to be for a figure like Joan of Arc - is powerful, impassioned, lively and precise in delivery, working fully in the spirit of the work itself. If there are any reservations about Evan Bowers' performance as Carlos, they are only in respect of the writing for the role itself. It is however a similarly committed performance, well sung and acted, that works marvellously in the context of the work. Renato Bruson sounded a little unsteady in his first scene, but is solid where it counts later in the opera, as vocal challenges rise correspondingly with the emotionally charged dramatic developments. The orchestra, conducted by Bruno Bartoletti, and the chorus are also in fine form here, the cast and production working in common accord to present about as good an account of this rare Verdi work as you could imagine. The Blu-ray quality is of a very high standard, the audio in particular giving a warm, clear rendering of the invigorating music, chorus and singing. The Blu-ray is all-region, with subtitles in Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Technical problems with Lip Sync, and dodgy intonation, 6 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Verdi: Giovanna D'Arco (Parma 2008) (Bowers/ Bruson/ Vassileva/ Bruno Bartoletti/ Gabriele Lavia) (C Major: 721304) [Blu-ray] [2012][Region Free] (Blu-ray)
My first Tutto Verdi Bluray disc, and possibly my last if they are all like this. Lip sync wanders, usually at the start of a phrase, but seems to get corrected by the DVD/Bluray authoring and encoding when the character singing is full face on to the camera. I fear that I shall have to return it to Amazon as once you notice this technical defect it spoils one's attention to the overall performance.
Svetla Vassileva is appropriately androgenous in the part as Giovanna, but her sometimes excessive vibrato is surely unnecessary. Evan Bowers as King Carlo has a fine voice but is occasionally strained in his top register. Renato Bruson (as father of Giovanna) is now 77 years old. This performance was recorded in 2008 when he would have been 72. Perspiring profusely, with extreme vibrato, or just plain wobble, his intonation is terrible toe-curling butt-clenching stuff, embarrassing and painful to watch and hear.
The opera does however contain wonderful music and deserves to be performed more frequently. I shall just have to wait for a better performance issued to higher standards of disc authoring.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 29 July 2014
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superb
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somthing new and very italian., 15 Jun 2013
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You can only watch so many presentations of the famous five or so operas! This OPERA presentation was new to me and in the first instance was directed to an Italian audience.
The storyline moves rather slowly, but the acting and singing were good.The production is on a smaller scale than say, the MET, but well done for all that. The two lead singers, JOAN AND THE KING, act and sing well. As an addition to your Opera library, this would be a SOMETIMES viewed ADDITION.
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