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Art of Singing [DVD] [2011] [US Import]

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x99748714) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96ef9f54) out of 5 stars Much stunningly good, some not so much 9 Feb. 2012
By Philip S. Griffey - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This disc has a large number of small snippets, and several more extended bands, of very fine singers of the past. For the most part, these selections should be considered as supplementary material - giving an interesting visual representation of the great singers and their performance practices of the past 100 years - rather than as exciting performances, which you would watch frequently for their entertainment value. Needless to say, the quality of the audio and video varies widely from the crude early selections, through the fuzzy cinemas of the 1930's to the relatively acceptable quality of the later singers in the 1960's.

While there are several singers who are also very capable actors presented here, most artists are concentrating on their singing. One also needs to consider that not only is it difficult to accompany what are essentially sung monologs with meaningful gestures, these performers normally performed on stage in large concert halls; thus their gestures and acting styles may seem exaggerated in the close-up medium of the camera.

Side 1:

Band 1: Enrico Caruso (2:38) - a number of very short silent movie and newsreel segments, shown over a background of a 1907 recording of "Vesti la giubba".

Band 2: Enrico Caruso (1:36) - a silent movie segment from 1911, showing six very static (yet mannered) actors miming to a 1908 recording of the sextet from Lucia with Sembrich, Scotti & Journet.

Band 3: Giovanni Martinelli - 1930 (1:48) - a short segment from one of the early "talkie" movies, showing the 45 year old Martinelli (in costume) singing the opening of "Celeste Aida". Commentary by a much older Martinelli - probably shot around 1960.

Band 4: Giovanni Martinelli - 1931 (1:54) - a short segment from another of the early "talkie" movies, showing Martinelli (in a Gondolier costume) singing an energetic and vigorous "Torna a Sorriento".

Band 5: Beniamino Gigli - 1933 (2:21) - The 43 year old Gigli, accompanied by an organ, dressed in the vest and trousers of a three piece suit, in front of a radio microphone, with rows of middle-aged men (also in business suits) sitting behind him, singing "Ombra mai fu". While the setting is bizarre, the singing is glorious - no gulps, no sobs. Reminiscences by Magda Olivero.

Band 6: Tito Schipa - 1929 (3:18) - A studio film of the 41 year old Schipa singing (in rustic costume) "Martha, m'appari". A beautiful performance, which gains nothing from the rather distracting set, costume and acting. Reminiscences by Magda Olivero.

Band 7: Giuseppe de Luca - 1927 (3:03) - a segment from one of the early "talkie" movies, showing the 51 year old de Luca (in costume) singing "Largo al factotum". Very well sung, minimal acting. Commentary (mostly vacuous) by Thomas Hampson.

Band 8: Luisa Tetrazzini - 1932 (1:16) - an absolutely ghastly segment, showing a very rotund, 61 year old Tetrazzini, croaking along to a recording of Caruso singing "Martha, m'appari", while wearing one of the ugliest hats ever devised by man, and letting loose a fearsome cackle when a toady bystander kisses her hand and tells her how wonderful she sounded.

Band 9: Conchita Supervia - 1934 (2:52) - A segment from the movie "Evensong", where the 39 year old Supervia does a nice job with "Quando me'n vo" from Bohème.

Band 10: Rosa Ponselle - 1936 (6:02) - A very memorable segment from some MGM screen tests, where the 39 year old Ponselle does an outstanding job with the "Chanson Bohème" and the "Habañera" from Carmen. Extraordinarily vivacious and charismatic; a real charmer! A very short interview (two questions) with Ponselle.

Band 11: Richard Tauber - 1933 (3:26) - A segment from the movie "Lilac Time", where the 42 year old Tauber drowns Schubert's "Ständchen" in great dripping gobs of schmalz. There is so much portamento and rubato that I seriously recommend taking Dramamine before viewing.

Band 12: Fyodor Chaliapin - 1933 (2:41) - A short, acted segment from the silent movie "The Maid of Pskov" (1917), followed by the 60 year old Chaliapin singing the "Chanson du duc" from Ibert's "Don Quichotte". The presence and acting are very fine. The voice is accurate, penetrating, thin and hard. The music is incredibly boring.

Band 13: Kirsten Flagstad - 1938 (3:15) - A segment from the movie "The Big Broadcast". Introduced by Bob Hope. Another glorious vocal performance in a bizarre setting. The setting appears to be a cocktail lounge or club; an audience (obvious Hollywood extras) is seated at tables in white dinner jackets and evening gowns. There is a smallish (for Wagner) orchestra sawing away. The curtain opens on the very round, 43 year old Flagstad, in full valkyrie regalia, standing on a paper-maché rock, waving a short spear around while trying not to fall off the rock. But, you are not likely to ever hear "Hojotoho" sung better - or by a richer, more beautiful voice.

Band 14: Lawrence Tibbett - 1935 (2:05) A segment from the movie "Metropolitan". The 39 year old Tibbett shows off his fine figure and voice in a very mannered and choreographed performance of the "Chanson du Toreador" from Carmen. The only problem, other than a lack of nuance in his singing, is that sleazy little mustache, which denotes different qualities to different observers - but none of them are admirable.

Band 15: Risë Stevens - 1941 (2:51) - Yet another glorious vocal performance in a bizarre setting. A segment from the movie "The Chocolate Soldier". The singer is standing in front of a piano in what appears to be a cocktail lounge or club; an audience similar to the above. In a short interview the singer discusses the problems of looking attractive for the camera while filming an aria. She does a nice job of singing "Mon coeur s'ouvre" from Samson and Dalila; but exhibits no emotion whatever - whether by the instructions of the director or personal preference is unknown. However, the aria doesn't work when sung without passion, especially in a club in front of a piano. DOA.

Band 16: Lauritz Melchior - 1948 (1:28) - Yet another passionless performance in a bizarre setting. A segment from the movie "Luxury Liner". This time the singer is seated at a piano in what appears to be dinner jacket without lapels; the audience appears to be a maid, seated in an armchair, and two young starlets standing next to each other and exchanging what are meant to be meaningful looks. The 58 year old Melchior croons away at "Winterstürme" in what is meant to be a charming manner. At the end, the maid opines "Wonderful! Just wonderful!"

Band 17: Ezio Pinza - 1953 (3:16) - A segment from the movie "Tonight We Sing". A well sung and acted scene from Boris Godunov by the charismatic 61 year old singer/actor. It's a movie, but it's well done.

Band 18: Jussi Björling and Renata Tebaldi - 1956 (14:08) - This one band by itself makes the disc worth the price. A segment of a TV production call "Producer's Showcase", the scene is self-consciously introduced by the great actor Charles Laughton, who seems to be embarrassed by the execrably written introduction he has to read. The scene picks up the first act of La Bohème at "Che gelida manina" and runs to the end of the act. The singers are rotund, the acting is not quite High School level, but the singing is unforgettable! Both singers are in excellent voice; both voices are beautifully plangent and absolutely perfect for Puccini, the conductor is the excellent Max Rudolf. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Side 2:

Band 1: Victoria de los Angeles - 1962 (2:06) - If you are a fan of de los Angeles, and you find "La Vida Breve" interesting or attractive, you will enjoy this performance. I am not, do not, and did not.

Band 2: Joan Sutherland - 1963 (2:29) - "O beau pays" from Les Huguenots by Meyerbeer. Beautiful singing wasted on boring music.

Band 3: Leontyne Price - 1962 (5:43) - "O patria mia". Prime Price. Beautiful, penetrating, rich voice with outstanding lower range, slightly marred by too wide a vibrato...very nice in softer sections...minimal acting, minimal set.

Band 4: Boris Christoff - 1956 (14:28) - "Death of Boris". Outstanding presence and singing...not likely to be bettered any time soon. Nicola Moscona as Pimen, conducted by Alfred Wallenstein.

Band 5: Magda Olivero - 1960 (4:53) - A well sung and acted "Vissi d'arte" by the 48 year old Olivero, followed by the Act III duet from Tosca with tenor Alvinio Misciano.

Band 6: Fritz Wunderlich - 1961 (4:28) - Wunderlich's typical peerless performance of "Dies Bildnis" - unenhanced by silly costume, bouffant hair above a receding hairline, and stiff, unimaginative acting. Just close your eyes and it will be "bezaubernd schön".

Band 7: Jon Vickers - 1974 (5:19) - The century's premier Florestan singing a very fine "In des Lebens". One could find the acting a bit over the top, if one wanted to criticize something, but I don't. Another band that almost makes the price worth it.

Band 8: Franco Corelli -1963 (2:53) - "Non piangere Liu". I have never heard Corelli sing better than this performance. Beautiful voice, fine presence, good acting. Plus it's nice to see an opera singer who doesn't look like an over-stuffed easy chair.

Band 9: Giuseppe di Stefano -1958 (3:40) - "Vesti la giubba". This performance is a real surprise. One expects beautiful singing from di Stefano, but here he instilled the old war horse with a great deal of feeling. To quote Aldous Huxley (speaking of a different tenor): "[This is] a piece, which at ordinary times, I would go out of my way to avoid hearing...[but here] Leoncavallo's throaty vulgarity seemed not only refined and sincere, but even beautiful, positively noble." Di Stefano "nailed it."

Band 10: Maria Callas - 1958 (4:18) - Very dark, murky video, shot from some distance away, of the Lisbon "Traviata" with Alfredo Kraus. Listen to the C/D, nothing to see here.

Band 11: Maria Callas & Tito Gobbi -1964 (4:45) - Duet and "Vissi d'arte". Callas and Gobbi are inimitable. Stunningly intense performance, with her usual problems in upper range. One hears such singing, and what can one say but "Callas"?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96efb198) out of 5 stars Bjorling and Tebaldi... 10 Feb. 2012
By bob turnley - Published on Amazon.com
The Boheme scene featuring Bjorling and Tebaldi is the greatest opera perfomance on film. Tebaldi is radiant and charming and in prime voice. Bjorling is the ideal Rodolfo and his acting is completely natural. He does nothing more or less than needed. Charles Laughton's personal and heartfelt introduction is obviously in his own words. Magda Olivero's Vissi D'arte is incomplete as is Parigi, o cara by Callas and Kraus. Leontyne Price's nearly perfect vibrato is on display in a well done O patria mia and the great Wunderlich delivers a great performance of Tamino's aria. The "singing actors," Christoff,Callas and Vickers deliver intense performances that may seem over the top as taken out of context and on the small screen. The young Sutherland and Corelli are both spectacular and De Los Angeles,Gigli and Schipa all deliver prime performances.
HASH(0x96efb27c) out of 5 stars Wonderful Singers and Wonderful Video Clips. 6 Oct. 2014
By CelticWomanFanPiano - Published on Amazon.com
This is a wonderful collection of video footage of the famous Opera Stars from the 20th century, one of the better centuries for Divas and Divos alike. The narration is not much, but the video clips they show are amazing. And the little insights given into the varying opera singers by their contemporaries is fascinating. Some of the highlights are excerpts from Bizet's Carmen, Dies Bildniss by Wunderlich, Leontyne Price, and Rise Stevens. It ends with Maria Callas and what an ending it is! Maria Callas and her rendition of "Vissi D'Arte" is so impacting. It could make the most hardened of criminals cry. While much of this footage is available on youtube if one searches hard enough, it is nice to see and hear this collection all in one place. It is a good learning tool and just simply a collection of beautiful music. Bravo!
HASH(0x96efb3f0) out of 5 stars an entertaining introduction to its subject matter 23 Mar. 2014
By Dr. Steve Bennett - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This video along with similar productions on the Great conductors , Pianists and Violinists ....is valuable to both novices and those with a love of classical music and its interpreters over the past 100 years or so. I found the audio quality to be quite good considering the age of some of the sonic sources. Worth the modest price.
HASH(0x96efb96c) out of 5 stars Lots of interesting historical clips here; but unlike The ... 29 April 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Lots of interesting historical clips here; but unlike The Art of Violin, there's not much commentary from experts, and not much critical commentary at all.
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