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Dreadful - worst opera release I have ever seen
on 12 February 2015
I love opera and watch a couple of operas on video each week and own several hundred opera DVDs and Blu-rays.
I bought this without reading reviews, as almost everything that Deutsche Grammophon have released on Blu-ray so far has been outstanding (eg Il Trovatore with Netrebko and Domingo is exceptional).
Unfortunately, this release is the probably the worst thing I have seen (either live or recorded).
Singing: 3 stars. The singing isn't terrible but it isn't great either. Villazón's voice is not in peak shape and he needs a bit more control. Persson is a bit shrill and not the most pleasant singer to listen to. Although D'Arcangelo is excellent.
Sound: 1 star. The sound is horrible! The sound is muffled, the balance keeps changing, and the Deutsche Grammophon engineers should be embarrassed by this release.
Production: 1 star. Villazón directed the production and it is awful. The opera takes place on the set of a Western film. Villazón mentions in the accompanying documentary that he unashamedly uses cliche and slap stick. That's fine, but to me the result is incredibly daggy, stupid, and not at all funny. Villazón prances around the stage like a buffoon - perhaps this suits the character - but it is indulgent and unfocused. I got the impression from watching the documentary that Villazón's exuberance borders on the manic - and the result in mish-mash of ideas and gimmicks. It has the strange distinction of being on the one hand excruciating to watch, but also very boring.
Video Direction: 1 star. The filmed footage is interspersed with footage of a black and white 'silent' film that Villazón made for the production. It is ugly and distracting.