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A performance which will probably never be bettered,
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This review is from: Zandonai: Francesca Da Rimini: Metropolitan Opera (Renata Scotto) [DVD]  (DVD)
Zandonai was only 18 when Verdi died and he lived for twenty years after Puccini's death, but Francesca da Rimini, his only operatic success which premiered in 1914, is far more like Verdi than like Puccini. It could readily pass for a middle period Verdi opera. Only in the final duet of the last scene does the music approach the romantic and melodic intensity of Puccini. Nevertheless this is an excellent opera, melodic, dramatic and very well orchestrated. It is given the best possible production in this 1984 performance from the Metropolitan Opera. The sets and costumes are lavish and the cast is simply unbeatable. It is unlikely that this performance will ever be equalled let alone surpassed. Not only are the three main principals superb singers but they are all excellent actors, making this a hugely satisying performance both musically and dramatically. Renata Scotto sings and performs wonderfully as always in an almost ideal role for her as Francesca. Her fabulous voice is full and rich and there is hardly any of the upper range roughness which occasionally occurs in her performances. This is vintage Scotto and she is matched by an equally brilliant Domingo both vocally and dramatically. They work wonderfully well together and this chemistry between the pair is the core around which this immensely satisfying performance revolves. Add to this the raw savagery and malevolence that Cornell MacNeil brings to the role of Francesca's husband Gianciotto Malatesta and the casting is perfect. MacNeil is also vocally excellent and commanding in one of his finest recorded roles on DVD. The supporting cast are also excellent, in the small role of Smaragdi the young Isola Jones brings a wonderfully rich vocal contribution and clearly shows her future potential.
The sound and picture quality are remarkably good for a recording made in 1984 and there are no problems at all in either respect other than the fact that the picture format is,of course, 4:3 rather than widescreen.
The opera runs for 159 minutes.