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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Verdi: Il Trovatore [DVD] [NTSC]
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on 13 October 2017
I must say Thoroughly enjoyed this performance the singing the production thank you
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on 19 January 2017
Very exciting, the cast and orchestra gave their all. I wish I could have been in the audience.
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on 7 July 2015
Il Trovatore is one of my must have operas and I have been looking for a well sung, well staged version. This meets the first criteria but i normally avoid any thing by David McVicar and, as usual, the set is daft. Having said that the singing and the music are superb and Hvorostovsky is surely the finest Conte di Luna the world has at this time. Vocally and in acting the entire cast excel and at the rostrum Armiliato leads the orchestra in a faultless presentation of the magnificent score. I have seen this opera staged so much better but rarely have the performances reached this standard. Love McVicar....Buy it. Hate McVicar...Give it a go.
David Erskine, Alloa Scotland.
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on 21 January 2017
Jose Cura as Manrico and Dimitri Hvorostovsky as the count supply their powerful voices to give intensity to this magnificent Verdi opera. Both the parts of Azucena and Leonora are well performed. The sets are carefully designed to provide the necessary atmosphere and artistic merit to the different scenes. Also I'm pleased that costumes contemporary to the story are used. Another point is that it is a relatively recent performance of 2002 vintage.
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VINE VOICEon 2 February 2014
I would class this production of Il Trovatore, conducted and stage directed by Herbert von Karajan, at the Vienna State Opera theatre, as an all time great, which, in the first instance, benefits from clever staging that inspires the imagination rather than 'going over the top' in a mistaken effort to be realistic. The costumes are also well designed and evocative of the period in question. Opera is all about the dramatic manipulation of the human voice in an orchestral setting. Everything else about it needs to be in harmony with these basic essentials. If the action-singing is taking place in a forest glade, then, although no real trees or bushes are displayed, a forest glade is suggested and the actor will not be portrayed singing in front of a kitchen sink. Some operas lend themselves to being filmed on location, but we are not on location here and the staging is perfect for the 'job in hand'.

At the beginning of Act One Jose Van Dam sets the tone of what's to come with a rousing performance in the role of Fernando, Captain of the Guard telling the story of the kidnap of the Count of Luna's infant brother. Raina Kabalvanska is a convincing Lenora caught between her two lovers: Il Conte di Luna (Piero Cappuccilli) and the troubadour Manrico (Placido Domingo), both of whom give outstanding performances. In fact, the performances of all those involved are of the highest quality and Florenza Cossotto is outstanding in the role of the gipsy Azucena. The scene outside the convent, where Leonora is about to take the veil because she thinks Manrico is dead, is particularly well staged, not least in that it avoids the temptation to 'over-nun' the episode with a gratuitous procession outside the convent gates. As throughout the whole performance, the choir is superb.

It would be hard to improve upon the rendering of the prison scene in the final act, in which the four principals sing their hearts out. Of course, in this work, everyone is watching out for the two famous choruses: the Anvil and the Soldiers. Viewers will not be disappointed. There's a real anvil which you can see and hear being struck and the 'soldiers' sing like a platoon of real soldiers. Getting seemingly small things wrong can ruin a whole performance. Since the anvil striking sets the tone for the agony of what's to come, it's a case of 'no anvil, no opera.' Although Verdi has written operas as great as Il Trovatore, he has never composed a greater one. My personal choice is to place it in the top three all time great operas and, in my opinion, this performance of it is an all time great. Nothing is perfect and it's possible to pick holes in even the best fabrics; but the fact remains: this performance is outstanding..
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on 13 July 2012
I would have served my own interests best if I had watched the documentary first for much valuable insight into this 2002 production from Covent Garden of this Verdi favourite is given. There are valuable contributions from conductor, director, costume designer and fight arranger as well as those of Jose Cura, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Yvonne Nael although those of Veronica Villarroel border on the silly. The documentary does give pertinent details of the production team's approach to both staging and character interpretation. The decision was made to set the production in the 1860s with a bow to Garibaldi and Italian reunification and here both sets and costumes (including red shirts for the gypsies) complement the action. There are a number of introductions that include the master stroke of having the Count di Luna actually execute Manrico; an action that heightens the final dramatic moments of the production. Others, which include far too explicit embraces between the lovers, are of more questionable merit. Most controversal of all is the introductory chorus of part III, designed as a homage to Schlager duelling, which ends with the rape of Azucena.

It is a marketing misfortune that Jose Cura's fine performance as Alfredo in La Traviata in Paris is presently unavailable on DVD for it is a better monument to the tenor's talents. As Manrico the singer has some very good moments but his appearance complete with an abundance of facial hair, red shirt, cigar and wrist bands does detract from performance appreciation. In the documenentary Cura explains that the definite decision was made to portray Manrico as a macho latino gypsy which is certainly in keeping with the character of this very physical production but it does also pose the question as to why a refined lady in waiting to the Princess of Aragon could be so drawn to him (an extreme example of the attraction of opposites?). There is no opportunity for any of the elegance displayed in the role by Placido Domingo or the great reassurance provided on stage by Luciano Pavaroti.

The production does have two stand-out performances. As the villain of the piece Dmitri Hvorostovsky is most convincing as both singer and actor in the role of the Count di Luna whose obsessive love for Leonora is totally unrequited. Since the passing of the late Piero Cappuccilli the baritone must now be the undisputed master of the role. As the revenge bent gypsy Yvonne Naef, until now a singer unknown to me, gives a masterly performance as Azucena. Blessed with a fine mezzo voice the singer makes an auspicious Covent Garden debut. She does come across as looking rather too young for the role which is at its most evident when Azucena and Manrico are the only two artistes on stage.

My fist introduction to Veronica Villarroel was as Helene in the 2000 production of Jerusalem at Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova. I then concluded that although an accomplished soprano the singer was not ideal for Verdi. Her performance as Leonora tends to confirm such a judgement. The singer is certainly elegant when first introduced in part I and is at her best in part VI during the closing scenes of the opera but she does lack the stage presence of Raina Kabaivanska and the vocal power of Eva Marton.

Certain productions give fifth lead status to Ferrando but such is not the case at Covent Garden for this is strictly a quartet affair with the bass role relegated to the sidelines. By intention the staging is rather dark but the DVD has excellent sound and both orchestra and chorus under the baton of Carlo Rizzi, perform well.

This production is certainly unusual but there are many pluses and the production team deserve every credit for the continuity of their original intentions. I feel the production will best serve the interests of someone seeking an alternative version of the opera and here it is pleasing to note that the DVD is marketed at a very acceptable price. In 1978 Herbert von Karajan masterminded a well staged production at Vienna with Placido Domingo and Raina Kabaivanska most impressive as the lovers. The Met's 1988 production, under the baton of James Levine has Pavarotti still in very fine voice but Eva Marton's Leonora has not met with universal approval. In 1983 the Sydney Opera House mounted a production virtually designed as a solo
promenade for Dame Joan Sutherland. The great soprano was then in the twilight of her career but there is still something grand about her Leonora which is missing at Covent Garden.

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on 12 April 2013
This was thoroughly enjoyable and absolutely first- rate, musically, visually and dramatically. What else can I say except that it's a must-have for any collection.
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on 4 March 2017
I bought this last year and only opened it recently to find that it is faulty. It plays nothing at all. I have tried it on two DVD players and a computer.
It is worthless.
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on 23 June 2003
Curious trend this, whereby italian operas in major centres are now commonly cast without a single italian singer, at least in the main roles. Whether that obeys to an acute scarcity of competent, world-class Italian singers remains to be seen, maybe globalisation arrived to the arts with its full impact. Any way, this release is typical of its source, very well produced and with interesting and pertinent supplementary material, a feature other publishers ought to imitate.
The end result is uneven, though, in spite of the stunning Moshinsky production for The Royal Opera, a significant improvement over his previous Australian effort which has been variously broadcast over world television and seen in many countries. The main problem lies with Cura's Manrico, caught here in a problematic evening none the less the loud cheering and applause at the end courtain calls; visually he certainly looks the part. I can't say whether he's going through recurrent vocal problems or if this was an isolated incident, but what we have here is a very wobbly vocal production that to me marred an otherwise wonderful night at the opera (London, 3rd May 2002), where with "tricks of the trade" Cura tried, sometimes more successfully than others, to conceal the fact that his vocal instrument was in substandard condition; alarm lights up for the listener from the very "Deserto sulla terra" moment. Top honours are shared by Hvorostovsky and Naef, in their respective roles of the Count and Azucena. The siberian's is one of the most effective impersonations of the Count I've ever seen, acted with utter conviction and bravado, sung with impeccable and effectively nuanced vocal production, velvety when it calls for, full voiced when pertinent; no wonder then that "Il balen del tuo sorriso" brings the house down -I'd add that young italian baritones aspiring to tackle the rôle ought well study this portrayal-. Nor less can we say about the Azucena, the part chosen by Naef to show her proficiency at the ROH for the first time. Looking perhaps youngish for the part, especially in her scenes when she shares the stage with Cura, her powerful mezzo voice soars majestically over the Covent Garden stage, bringing memories of earlier, italian famous exponents of the part. Villarroel's voice is perhaps not strong enough for Leonora but she in the end acquits herself quite successfully, not a great Leonora perhaps but satisfactory all round none the less; her pianissimi are exquisite. The Ferrando equals Cura in wobbliness, the Inés seems cool and detached. The chorus and orchestra are in top form, Rizzi's tempi in the fast side, sometimes unnecessarily so, or maybe uncalled for (I went back to Carlo Maria Giulini's essay on the subject of this work's suggested tempi, originally marked by Verdi himself on his score, which the illustrious Italian conductor studied closely whilst preparing his excellent audio-only recording made in Rome some 20 years ago for DG; the essay is published in the booklet that accompanies it and is recommended reading for those who own the album).
In sum: peaks and valleys, but an all-round satisfactory experience, well directed for television by Brian Large and very well recorded, sound-wise, like most BBC Opus Arte releases I've come across. If you happen to live in a city which is a major opera centre, you may well experience the work live and in a similarly good -or even better- performance sometime or the other, with even perhaps at least some of these same singers and thereby doing without this album perfectly well. But if, like most of us, you don't, you won't go wrong by ordering this DVD, which for a fraction of the price of a decent seat at the Metropolitan Opera or the Chicago Lyric Opera -and certainly at Covent Garden, where the performance was recorded and good tickets go over the £PRICE barrier-, renders all round satisfaction, with the caveats referred to above.
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on 12 February 2011
What a refreshing performance of an old war horse with insight and flare. There needs to be a good balance between both leading male characters in this opera for it to have any credence. After all , by blood they are brothers although as different as chalk and cheese so therefore Hvorostovsky gives a perfect foil to Cura in the title role with both showing equal macho bravado. The female characters are very good also although Villaroel looks a little past the young beauty stage and not showing a great deal of difference from Naef (Azucena)in stage years. Still both have excellent singing abilities and make the quartet of characters well sung and believable. I particularly loved the setting With its artilery and machine atmosphere. Its a shame that those big guns actually have no part in the opera. One aspect that I particularly liked was the fact that in this production Di Luna actually dispatched Manrico himself with a pistol in the final moments adding to the final outcome where he realises he has killed the long lost brother whom he had searched for for so long.The period also did nothing to deflect the story. If anything, in my oppinion, it seems to work better in this period with a little less swahbuckling and a hint of nineteenth century pomp and courtesy. All in all I can recommend this DVD filled with so many operatic ikons to all and sundry.
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