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4.5 out of 5 stars
13
4.5 out of 5 stars
IL Trovatore ARENA DI VERONA [DVD] [2011] [NTSC]
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on 20 January 2017
This opera is so full of wonderful melody from start to finish. The singers and orchestra performed well but I would single out the soprano Rosalind Plowright and the mezzo Fiorenza Cossotto for particular praise. In the case of Cossotto, I was pleased to see her as well as hear her legendary voice (I have CDs of her dating back to the 1950's). In spite of having had such a long career at the top I was pleased that her performance as Azucena was still intense and totally convincing. Although the costumes were of the period which I much prefer, the wooden framed structures that provided the back drops were less desirable and for me detracted from the charged atmosphere.
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on 11 March 2014
Don't think anyone views Il Trovatore for the plot - not even Verdi really understood it - the audience is there for the music. It doesn't need raptures from me since these have been around for well over 100 years so the composer won't miss them.

This version is the one from the Arena di Verona and was part of a Channel 4 series (UK) which used to fill the afternoon slot on Sundays for a couple of years in the 1980's. Lead vocallists were Franco Bonisolli, tenor; Rosalind Plowright, soprano; Giorgio Zancanaro, Baritone; Fiorenza Cossotto, Mezzo.

The players enjoy themselves tremendously in this performance which is conveyed to a very happy audience. Vocal honours are pretty well matched, but unquestionably Giorgio Zancanaro excels. To those unaware of this baritone, Zancanaro has a voice which is like listening to a diamond sing. Incisive clarity with rich, compelling tonality. Always under-rated by critics when active in the opera house, but always much appreciated by the audience. So it is in this recording.
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on 11 July 2009
A very interesting production. The English Soprano Plowright is in sparkling form with glorious top notes and strong bottom register. This role has no fears for her. A very well sung performance with plenty of atmosphere. A worthwhile DVD to own.
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on 4 December 2011
Il Trovatore is not well served on DVD. There are significant flaws in all of the available recordings. This is perhaps not surprising for such a well-known and popular opera which requires four first class soloists in the main roles. Usually the problem is that one of the four main principals is weak or wayward. Here in this 1985 performance from the Arena di Verona that is not the case, the four principals are all vocally excellent. One can quibble about some of their individual interpretations and approaches but they are all first-rate singers. The real problem with this performance is that it is poorly directed. It is a very static performance and generally very poorly acted. The chorus in particular are dreadful when it comes to any acting of their roles. Their singing is adequate but not outstanding. The fight sequences are laughable. Added to this is the problem that because this is the Arena di Verona the performance is constantly being interrupted by shouts and applause from the audience and grandstanding by the performers who regularly step completely out of character in order to acknowledge the audience applause. This requires joining hands and walking from side to side of the wide stage at several points. This completely ruins the narrative of the story.

The ony real pluses here are in the vocal quality of the four main principals. Three great Italian singers are joined by the English soprano Rosalind Plowright as Leonora. This is a role she was justly famous for singing, including a classic CD recording with Giulini. Here she shows why she was in great demand in this role because she not only looks the part unlike many of her rivals of the time, but she acts it well too. She and Giorgio Zancanaro as the Count di Luna are the best actors of the four principals. Zancanaro is also a very good vocal interpreter of his role but is not in the same league as Dimitri Hvorostovsky who gives the definitive interpretation of this role in the DVD from Covent Garden. Rosalind Plowright is one of the best Leonoras available on DVD, she is vocally excellent, particularly in the lower register. She was later to move into the mezzo-soprano register and some of the problems she had with the higher register are evident here but not to any great extent and this is overall an excellent performance from her and a good record of her importance in this role.

As for the other two principals, they are classic Italian performers of their respective roles. Fiorenza Cossotto is, of course, vocally unrivalled as Azucena and is here still in excellent voice. Her acting is rather stylised and perhaps does not bear the close analysis that a DVD recording brings but she is always convincing and it is great to have this recording of her performance late in her career. Franco Bonisolli is a very good Manrico, he has all the range and heroic top notes required in this role. He is however, best in the quieter passages, he is particularly excellent in the closing scene in his duets with Leonora and Azucena. He does tend to get carried away by the crowd and overpush the volume to the detriment of quality on the big numbers noticeably for 'Di quella pira' which is rough to start with and gets even worse in the encore demanded by the crowd. However these are minor problems in what is generally a very good performance. He is not, however a particularly good actor.

The sound is variable and there is a lot of loss in volume as the characters move around the huge stage. The orchestra is caught very well and the soloists are recorded well most of the time, so this is not a huge problem. There is a single Dolby digital 2.0 soundtrack. The picture is perfectly decent although it is only in 4 : 3 format.
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on 18 December 2014
Spearheaded by the eternally popular Anvil Chorus Il Trovatore boasts marvellous tunes and opportunities for soloists. It has a complicated plot line but three Verdi staples are very much there comprising warring brothers, parent/child relationships and the inevitable vortex of a hapless soprano at the centre of a love triangle involving the requited love of the hero tenor and the unrequited love of the baritone villain. The 1985 production has the good fortune to have four established Verdians as leads but difficulties are evident in the staging.

The production was fortunate to enjoy the services of the very experienced Brian Large as director for video but his film does confirm the serious difficulties invariably encountered when mounting a production on the huge stage at Verona. At times the chorus, who although singing well, come across as seriously under rehearsed in their acting skills. Exits in particular are not well handled and the battle at the end of act ii is amateurish in the extreme. Problems are also evident with the over abundance of curtain calls when soloists are obliged to wander about the wide open spaces seeking audience appreciation. Such properties as exist are limited to large wooden constructions which have to be wheeled about the stage and contribute to an atmosphere of confusion. A good point is that the costumes for both leads and singing chorus are in character and traditional.

The production's great plus is the very good singing of the four major leads with an absolute stand-out performance by Rosalind Plowright as Leonora and it is seriously unlikely that a better performance is currently available on DVD. Attired in a series of eye catching costumes the soprano, who looks every inch the part, is totally at one with the part as both singer and actress and succeeds admirably in creating character. Good singing matched by fine acting is provided by the solid and dependable baritone Giorgio Zancanaro who succeeds in creating in Count di Luna a tormented villain of true malevolence. The part of Azucena is associated with Fiorenza Cossotto as a signature role and she brings to her performance a wealth of vocal experience. It is to his considerable credit that Franco Bonisolli as Manrico can escape from the long shadow cast by Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti for his singing is also excellent. He is at a very good best in his duets with Leonora and Azucena. Some of his body movements comes across as rather old fashioned but both his and Cossotto's stage techniques date from a time when opera performers were singers first and actors second and the obsession with opera theatre was still in the future. The excellent solo work is essentially a quartet affair for Paolo Washington in the important bass role of Ferrando, although looking the part, lacks power and cannot match the capabilities of the major leads.

The singing and musical delivery, under the baton of the elegant Reynald Giovaninetti is sufficient to earn a place in the collection of a Verdi aficionado but there are far better staged productions elsewhere. Hence the absence of one star.

Trottman
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on 12 September 2005
There are many who would say that Verdi's Il Trovatore is one of the silliest operas ever written. Certainly most of the plot happens either before the first curtain has risen or during the intervals of the 4 acts. However, like most Verdi operas, if you can cast it well, any production, however trite, will fair well. So it is with this video.
Arena di Verona have assembled an unbeatable cast by 1985 standards. Luckily too, they have adopted a standard staging in the grand style. Large fortress-like sets, and wonderful costumes enhance the vocal performances of this production.
The opera was originally called "The Gypsy" but Verdi changed the name as the opera was expanded to a 4 act, convoluted version of his original plans. The role of the gypsy, Azucena is sung by the great Fiorenza Cossotto. She has a rich open sound in the Verdi mould. Perhaps a little pushed on occasion but wonderfully atmospheric. Her "so-called son" Manrico is the lunatic tenor Franco Bonisolli. He really is a "king of the High C's", in fact it is his best note. His acting is virtually non-existant and he plays to the audience most of the time but here again is a tenor who can perform the whole range and high tessitura of the role with no vocal challenges at all.
Giorgio Zancanaro is probably the best di Luna since Tito Gobbi. His Verdi baritone is just gorgeous. He is tall and handsome but unlike Gobbi his acting is somewhat "policeman directing traffic" like. No wonder Leonora falls for Manrico and not di Luna. It is the Leonora of Rosalind Plowright that is the greatest achievement of Verona's casting. Here we have the true Verdian article. From a vocal point of view, he soprano is as warm and lush as any Verdian before her. It is a much more beautiful sound than Callas and Tebaldi and she covers the range from High C down to a phenomenal chest register with an eveness this reviewer has never heard in his lifetime. If this alone was not enough than to watch her act this role is a lesson to all singers. Her commitment to the part is amazing bearing in mind the weakness of the character Verdi created - why, Leonora is not even a part of the story - but Plowright gives her every ounce of passion, love, dispair and resignation that the role calls for. Her duet with Zancanaro in Act 4, the first aria "Tace la Notte.." and the usually cut 4th Act Cabaletta "Tu vedrai che amore in terra" have not been equalled. We are particulary fortunate that NVC recorded this for video as much of the expressions would have been lost to an audience inside the Arena.
The cast is well supported by the conducting of Reynald Giovaninetti and the Arena di Verona Orchestra. Lovers of great Verdi should have this video as a must in their collection.
Andrea Locatelli
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on 28 February 2014
I received this disc today and watched it straight away. It was an excellent experience. This was a first class production with outstanding lead singers. Don't hesitate to purchase this!
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on 16 February 2014
I used to have this on VHS so was pleased to be able to buy the DVD, especially at the price paid. However, I wasn't sure how it would transfer considering the age of the production, overall, I was pleased with both picture quality and sound. It is quite a dated production as opera staging has moved on a lot since then but still an enjoyable performance primarily because of the excellence of the four principal singers Plowright, Zancanaro, Bonisolli and Cossotto.
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on 5 May 2016
EXCELLENT PRODUCTION, BONISOLLI ON GOOD FORM,ENCORE ON HIS DI QUELLA PIRA, HE LOVES HIS TOP Cs! dos"nt CHEAT .PLOWRIGHTS DEBUT AT VERONA.
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on 2 December 2016
My husband loves it it was his birthday present as we have seen many opera's in the Arena do Verona. Olivia R
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