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6 Reviews
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff! Very Enjoyable. Includes Singing Hedgehog.
It's been my privilege to watch several different performances of Verdi's In Ballo in Maschera and one of things I always watch out for is how well Ulrica, the fortune teller, is sung and played. In most productions she's dressed after the fashion of what one might expect a high class and honourable witch to wear, but not in this production, in which she is clad in a...
Published 3 months ago by H. A. Weedon

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Music 10, Staging zero
I'm afraid the production is weird enough to ruin the whole experience. Costumes and sets strike me as so silly that I cannot respect the director's vision - whatever it was.

Riccardo Chailly leads a strong musical performance and the sound is good. If only it were a CD, rather than a DVD.
Published 1 month ago by Mr. C. P. Rouse


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff! Very Enjoyable. Includes Singing Hedgehog., 6 Jan 2014
By 
H. A. Weedon "Mouser" (North Somercotes, Lincolnshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: Un Ballo In Maschera [Massimiliano Pisapia, Franco Vassallo, Chiara Taigi, Riccardo Chailly] [Euroarts: 2055107] [Blu-ray] [2013] (Blu-ray)
It's been my privilege to watch several different performances of Verdi's In Ballo in Maschera and one of things I always watch out for is how well Ulrica, the fortune teller, is sung and played. In most productions she's dressed after the fashion of what one might expect a high class and honourable witch to wear, but not in this production, in which she is clad in a costume consisting of interwoven wire netting and wooden spikes that stick out all over her giving her the appearance of some kind of giant hedgehog, except hedgehogs don't have spikes on their front sides as she has. Anna Maria Chiuri, who acts the role, is obviously enjoying herself immensely and I have to say I dissolve into laughter every time I see her in my mind's eye. Although, since Ulrica is a sinister character practising the black arts, I don't think she's supposed to make us laugh and, technically speaking, she ought to be portrayed as a sinister figure. Instead of that I shall now love and cherish this production all because of the hilarious hedgehog woman.

Eun Yee You, who is brilliant in the role of Oscar the page, comes a close second in the comedy stakes and would easily have been the number one comedy relief had it not been for the hedgehog. Chiara Taigi gives an impressive performance as Amelia, the woman caught in the cross fire of love from her husband, Renato (Franco Vassallo) on the one hand and Riccardo Massimilano (Pisapia), the governor of Boston, on the other, both of whom performed and sung their roles to a high standard. The character of Amelia comes across as a caring, dedicated wife and mother disorientated by being caught up in the love triangle between herself and the loves of two men, her husband and the governor. Matters are further complicated by the fact that Amelia's husband is the governor's right hand man. When Renato discovers his wife's supposed infidelity, he goes berserk and joins a conspiracy against the governor. Unfortunately, he refuses to accept his wife's explanations and he stabs the governor to death at a masked ball. The governor is just able to explain that Amelia is guiltless and that he has signed orders to send Renato, along with his wife and child, to an important job in England.

The Hedgehog from the woods, who had prophesied all this was going to happen, comes on stage again, still clad in her spikes and still grinning all over her face, for the curtain calls, God bless her!. This is the best ever Un Ballo in Maschera. Buy, watch and enjoy! And, honestly, even apart from the hedgehog, it's a great, very watchable, production.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MY FAVOURITE VERDI OPERA WELL-STAGED & WELL-SUNG, 19 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Verdi: Un Ballo In Maschera [Massimiliano Pisapia, Franco Vassallo, Chiara Taigi, Riccardo Chailly] [Euroarts: 2055107] [Blu-ray] [2013] (Blu-ray)
AN INTERESTING 'LIVE' 2005 RECORDING FROM LEIPZIG OPERA WITH GOOD PICTURE AND SOUND QUALITY. THE CAST WAS UNKNOWN TO ME BUT WONDERFUL NEVERTHELESS
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Controversial costumes but delivering superlative musical and dramatic values, 23 Sep 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: Un Ballo In Maschera [Massimiliano Pisapia, Franco Vassallo, Chiara Taigi, Riccardo Chailly] [Euroarts: 2055107] [Blu-ray] [2013] (Blu-ray)
This disc is a reissue of the 2005 Ballo from Leipzig. It is being offered at a very low price complete with a catalogue of other available discs. It might be a good idea to read other reviews of this disc in its original DVD format as it was issued several years ago. In general the overall view was that it offered superb musicianship throughout supported by good acting. The response to the costuming was negative and that, for most reviewers, was the problem.

I beg to disagree. It is also worth noting that this review is based on the new Bluray version.

The non-contentious part about this disc is anything to do with the musical and dramatic values. They are simply superb without a single moment of doubt. The opera opens with the chorus, the conspirators Tom and Samuel sung by Metodie Bujor and Tuomas Pursio, Renato sung by Franco Vassallo and the page boy Oscar sung by Eun Yee You. The conspirators are necessary but relatively minor roles within the opera and these are well sung and delivered here. Renato, as Riccardo's loyal secretary turned assassin, is a key role and it is immediately apparent that Franco Vassallo is well able to deliver vocally and has sufficient stage presence to command attention. His voice is well up to the demands of the part and is pleasingly lyrical while being powerful enough to carry without obvious strain. Eun Yee You as the page boy is immediately apparent as something of a scene stealer with an irrepressible vibrant and jolly stage presence combined with a stunningly accurate vocal delivery.

The next main character on stage is Riccardo sung by Massimiliano Pisapia who has a powerful and pleasing voice combined with good stage presence. As others have remarked, he appears not to be in the peak of physical fitness, but as the part portrays a non-active leader many years into his reign after a military victory, it is just within the bounds of possibility that he would not be in the physical shape he once was. As an amorous proposition for Amelia, one would have to leave that to her personal taste. Amelia herself, a role taken by Chiari Taigi, is powerfully delivered and Pisapia and Taigi make a vocally well matched couple who have no difficulty in filling the auditorium without the need for radio mikes, regrettably so common nowadays in some theatres.

The final key role is that of Ulrica taken by Anna Maria Chiuri. She is possessed of a fine mezzo soprano voice of power and a mesmerising stage presence. It is significant that her ovation at the end easily matches that of other key roles. Some have remarked that, despite her costume, she is still spookily effective. My own view is that she was having great fun in what might be described as a purely melodramatic role. As a photographer I would suggest that the sparkle in her eyes tell it all!

It is hard to overestimate the contribution made by Riccardo Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra who deliver playing of passion, power, precision to drive the plot forward and to underline and maximise every possible musical and dramatic point.

The quality of the sound needs to be mentioned at this point as it is impressively outstanding offering tremendous impact and sonic depth. It is presented in DTS 5.1 as well as stereo. The visuals are of an equal quality with sharp imaging, excellent colour and with sympathetic and involving camera work produced by the very reliable Paul Smaczny.

The stage settings are effective and up to the tasks in hand being simple, visually imaginative and supportive but not distracting. The costumes are where previous commentators have exercised their disapproval. This did not bother me in the least. In fact I found them quite entertaining and appropriate to the opera for the following reasons:

The opera is essentially about things not being what they seem. Thus faith becomes a breach of faith, love becomes a breach of love and power becomes an abuse of power. The scene with the fortune teller is based on deception of identity and the concept of such a situation is in itself unlikely in any real context. This whole opera is a fantastic fantasy, entitled a Masked Ball, and is based on the most extreme series of deceptions. I would suggest that the use of creative extreme costumes seems to fit well within this fantasy world. They do not affect either the music or the drama which are both superbly delivered and arguably fit well with the other fantastic elements of a story.

I would suggest that, after considering the costume situation carefully in terms of one's own personal taste, this disc is likely to offer a very rewarding and satisfying experience to anyone who feels that they may be sufficiently flexible to reconsider the opera's elements of contradiction, extremity and fantasy in the terms of this production.

........................................

Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

I find this type of review helpful in as much as it allows one to decide whether or not to acquire a recording based on the musical performance versus the staging. Also, I agree with Mr Giles in that anonymous negative votes are pointless. (see below)

A fine, informative review and I fully support your PS on negative voting. The internet is a huge plus in many ways but unfortunately its anonymity gives a certain type of person a chance to let loose. Like many people I've largely given up reviewing on Amazon. The voting buttons ask people if they find the review helpful, which is a totally different question from 'do you agree?'. An essential part of reading reviews is understanding a reviewer's likes and dislikes to allow you to gauge whether or not you're likely to have a similar reaction to a particular performance.
Opera is perhaps the worst genre to review. Dare to say some person's beloved soprano is below par or unsuited to a role, and you can guarantee a storm of negative votes from her groupies. Sad. (see below)

I find your reviews immensely helpful, and I hope you won't let the votes of a few negative people discourage you. You're very insightful and many people benefit from the time and effort you've put into your reviews. (U.S. review)

I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)

I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)

I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
Keep up the good work!
Thank you (UK review)

........................................

A note to the anonymous negative voters:

The voting system is specifically only about reviews being 'helpful' or 'unhelpful'
Goodness only knows what you find to be `unhelpful' about this review.

A negative vote without reason is not helpful to anyone. It does not contribute in any useful way to discussion so no-one can learn from you.
If you have a different view or find the review 'unhelpful' then explain, giving your reasons, and share your views in the comment option as intended.

Significantly, I know of at least one good reviewer who has finally given up with anonymous negative votes such as has been experienced here and deleted all his reviews. The loss to the whole collecting community is his considerable knowledgeable advice and the gain is his own free time. He cannot be persuaded to return to writing reviews despite my repeated encouragement.

Anonymous negative votes without supporting reasons can have other negative results that you may not have thought of.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Music 10, Staging zero, 8 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Verdi: Un Ballo In Maschera [Massimiliano Pisapia, Franco Vassallo, Chiara Taigi, Riccardo Chailly] [Euroarts: 2055107] [Blu-ray] [2013] (Blu-ray)
I'm afraid the production is weird enough to ruin the whole experience. Costumes and sets strike me as so silly that I cannot respect the director's vision - whatever it was.

Riccardo Chailly leads a strong musical performance and the sound is good. If only it were a CD, rather than a DVD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First rate Ballo from Leipzig very well sung , even if the costumes don't really work, 19 Mar 2014
By 
J. Aitken (Glasgow Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: Un Ballo In Maschera [Massimiliano Pisapia, Franco Vassallo, Chiara Taigi, Riccardo Chailly] [Euroarts: 2055107] [Blu-ray] [2013] (Blu-ray)
Good things first. This is musically a first rate Ballo. Massimiliano Pisapia is a suave musically intelligent Riccardo, Chiara Taigi a moving and finely sung Amelia and Franco Vassallo a superb Renato, all marvellously supported musically from Maesrto Chailly and the Gewandhaus orchestra. The Ulrica of Anna Maria Chiuri is not to my taste, producing some squally singing, but she is adequate. The Oscar of Eun Yee You is excellent and the smaller roles are well taken. All in all a musical joy. Bad things. The costumes are an uneasy cross between early Doctor Who and Trumpton and don't look particularly well made - saggy knee pads are not a look to emulate. Ulrica suffers most as a kind of hedgehog - very silly really. The costumes for the Ball itself are more thoughtful and look good in the final scene. The production and direction are basically bog standard, nothing to complain about, but really it is the musical values and the singing and acting of the main singers which give the most pleasure here, and for that alone , even with the awful costumes, which at least are amusing, the performance deserves 5 stars. Recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great DVD, 12 April 2014
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This review is from: Verdi: Un Ballo In Maschera [Massimiliano Pisapia, Franco Vassallo, Chiara Taigi, Riccardo Chailly] [Euroarts: 2055107] [Blu-ray] [2013] (Blu-ray)
The blu-ray of this work is superb. Wonderful picture quality and great sound. The cast is consistently good and Chailly's conducting is, as usual, excellent. I thoroughly recommend this recording.
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