I had a copy of this opera with Jose Carreras but the picture quality was not good. When I saw the DVD had been re-issued I knew I had to have it. It is a well-known opera and well deserved; unfortunately it is not performed very often now, like so many of the earlier operas of Verdi, which is a pity.
A rare performance of an interesting early Verdi. The story unfolds on a very recognizable Piazza at Sant'Ambrose Basilica in Milan where family deceit is afoot. The music is very convincing and drifts on with the crusade to the Holy Land. Some unspeakeable acts of violence are perpertrated against the Moors but the heroine is firm in her resolve to save her muslim friends from violence. The Chorus is well balanced and Pagano well played. Jerusalem and O Signore are memorably sung. Well worth the price but could be even more acceptable in HD.
Anxious to capitalise on the success of Nabucco Vedri was commissioned to compose his fourth opera. The result I Lombardi has often been regarded as something of a misfire a conclusion which is unjustified for the opera contains some fine music. . It is fortunate that this worthy 1984 production from La Scala is still available on DVD. Filmed for video release by the very experienced Brian Large it remains the only version of the opera available in DVD format.
Saddled with a libretto even more complicated than Il Trovatore the storyline has many of the Verdi familiars including warring brothers, a complex father/daughter relationship and a romantic entanglement that offends religious beliefs. The largest part is assigned to Giselda, whose misfortunes include being nearly murdered in the first act, held captive by the Muslim enemy in act 2 and having to endure a heavenly vision in act 4. Sung with great spirit by Ghena Dimitrova this versatile singing actress succeeds in holding the multiple confusions of the plot together. Only making his first entry in act 2 Jose Carreras, in a rather restricted part, makes an impressive showing as Oronte the son of the Muslim leader who falls in love with Giselda with whom he has a number of adventures before being killed and then singing his final aria from the heavens. As a murderous son turned hermit Silvano Carroli has a fine bass voice but in the part of Arvino (Giselda's father/the hermit's brother) Carlo Bini simply does not have a tenor voice worthy of La Scala.
The attempts to emulate the success of the chorus in Nabuccvo is evident in the large number of choruses given to the crusading army. Under the baton of the famously autocratic Gianandrea Gavazzeni the chorus perform some stirring set pieces but there is nothing to rival "Va pensiero" and the great battle hymns of Ernani and Il Trovatore. That said the opera does contain some beautiful music (Pavarotti included some of the tenor arias at concert performances) and among them there is a lovely violin preludio at the end of act 3,
As would be expected at La Scala the staging, particularly in the first two acts is impressive. Later the scenery becomes rather more functionable although an acceptable standard is always maintained.