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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A middle of the road, non controversial traversal of Verdi's life and achievements, 13 Feb 2014
This review is from: Va Pensiero Sull'Ali Dorate [Verdi Documentary] [Felix Breisach, Thomas Hampson] [Euroarts: 2051048] [DVD] [2013] [NTSC] (DVD)
This DVD offers a good over-view of Verdi's life and achievements without wishing to be controversial in any way or to offer any new insights.

The target audience appears to be anyone who is approaching Verdi's background for the first time having previously been attracted by watching some of his more well-known operas and wanting to receive more background than that found in disc sleeve notes.

In that respect this DVD achieves its target. It covers his life from birth, through childhood, through his entire musical life and through to his death. Throughout one is made aware of his particular talents both as a musician and also as a shrewd businessman. In this way he not only became famous as a musician, but also become one of the richest landowners in Italy.

One interesting fact that I was not aware of was that Verdi was an atheist. This was a surprising piece of information bearing in mind the huge emphasis that religion played in the majority of his operas as a tool for dominance. A simple example being that of Alfredo's father's reference to God's will as well as social convention in terms of his request that Violetta should forsake Alfredo. This use of religion as a means of exerting pressure is a recurring theme which seems at odds with his own atheist beliefs.

The four excepts sung by Thomas Hampson are well dubbed from studio recordings rather than recorded 'live' but this will not be noticed without paying particular attention. Clearly it would not have been viable to have hired an orchestra for so few 'on location' moments. Thomas Hampson is also the narrator and his input is friendly and relaxed making for easy viewing.

The soundtrack provides background music taken from the major operas interspersed with the spoken dialogue. There are no interviews offered which might have led to a more penetrating study of the composer.

This will not go deeply enough for those looking for in-depth analysis or for new enlightenment. However the DVD is perfectly satisfactory as an overview of the accepted version of Verdi as a person, musician and businessman and would make a good introduction to further study of the composer or as background to the circumstances of some of the operas.
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4.0 out of 5 stars (1 customer review)
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I. Giles
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Location: Argyll, Scotland

Top Reviewer Ranking: 6