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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 23 November 2011
This recording of L'Elisir d'Amore was made in 2005 at the Vienna State Opera. This is quite a small theatre and this has an impact on the production which is rather more intimate in feel than is often the case with larger venues.

The production is firmly traditional with completely believable costumes and set. The chorus have quite a large vocal and dramatic role in this opera so they need to be actively participative both collectively and individually. This is achieved very well throughout this performance.

The two star roles of Adina and Nemorino dominate this opera and feature Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon at a fairly early stage in their respective careers when both have the freshness of youth on their side. It is quite clear from numerous glances and more obvious interactions that they seem to have a special empathy with each other and this makes a huge difference to the veracity of the performance and to the viewers' enjoyment as the story unfolds on the stage. Both are in fine voice too and the stand-out aria is the touching `Una furtiva lagrima' sung most affectingly by Villazon and which leads to prolonged demands for an encore from the highly enthusiastic audience. They are suitably rewarded and their renewed applause almost stops the show! Netrebko is by no means over-shadowed by this however as her immediately preceding aria `Quanto amore!' is of the same calibre.

Leo Nucci as Belcore is clearly no more the young man as described by Adina but he has a twinkle in the eye which cannot be missed and obviously enjoys playing his role opposite the very attractive and nimble Netrebko. This genuine attraction has the effect of encouraging Nucci to shed years and to bring out some of the most vibrant acting I have ever seen from him. His voice is still in very good shape so he makes a good character part. Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as the wily Dulcamara also clearly relishes his role in much the same sort of way as Nucci and he is really very amusing as well as being vocally excellent.

Humour and amusement are strong features of this production and much of this stems from the very vibrant interactions between the above mentioned members of the cast and this is quite in addition to the humour built into the script. There are many, seemingly improvised, moments of humour sometimes verging on the slapstick such as Villazon tripping and bumping into things in a bumbling manner, his skilful turn of juggling with 3 apples (he was a circus performer at one time), Netrebko closing his mouth opened in astonishment plus many more small instances of natural good humour.

The orchestra under Alfred Eschwe is on good form and the on-stage trumpeter, Konrad Monsberger, is a nice visual touch.

The camera work is able to draw the viewer into the action very well and the imaging is crisp with good colour throughout. The sound is good but microphone placing produces moments of reduced volume from the solo singers as they move slightly out of optimum range. The effect is actually more realistic in the crowd scenes for example where the chorus is more powerfully projected compared to the more recessed balance of the soloists. I would not wish to make too much of this as I personally prefer this than the more even, but totally fake effect, of the radio mikes now becoming regrettably more commonplace. The sound is presented in DD 5.0, DTS 5.0 and stereo. The playback level is far lower than normal but can be adjusted via the volume control, in my case by about 4.5 dB.

The recent Blu-ray version differs in presentation slightly from the DVD by offering stereo or surround sound but does not give further information as to which type of surround sound. The low level playback is identical to the DVD but the picture is crisper than the DVD as expected. The biggest gain is the added depth to the sound and this is apparent from the start of the overture. The BD version is from the HD source material and is the result of Warner taking over EMI and making BD versions available. Neither the DVD not the BD offer sleeve note information about track listings or the opera plot and could be described as extremely minimalist.

This is a most enjoyable production and performance absolutely bubbling with vivacity. The cast interactions on stage seem to be very specially combined and this extra sizzle is very much appreciated by the enthusiastic audience. The whole effect is enhanced by the more intimate nature of the relatively small theatre. I would expect purchasers of this disc to derive great pleasure from it on repeat viewings and therefore it seems reasonable to suggest that this is very much a 5 star product despite the few instances of slightly recessed solo voices.
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on 30 September 2012
I am very fond of l'elisir d'amore, this is the third version that I own, it has a lot going for it.
The costumes are what I would expect, sort of rural and not too fancy.
The set is of the village centre where the action takes place, buidings on each wing and a view of the main village as background, just as it should be.
Villazon is a brilliant singer and actor and excells in all aspects as Nemorino.
Netrebko as Adina, the poshest girl in the village is an excellent foil for Nemorinos passion. Her voice is an absolute pleasure, I would fall for her without an elixir.
Belcone as portrayed by Nucci looks a little old for the part but his singing, acting and amusing face carry it off. I am spoiled by Roberto Scaltriti in the Opera National De Lyon version.
D'Arcangelo has a great baritone , his Dulcamara is most entertaining, and with his black hair and grey highlights, he is an impressive presence.
The enthusiastic chorus are well balanced with the orchestra and are bright and crisp.
There are alternative sound options, the Dolby is excellent. The picture quality also vey good.
I would find it difficult to make a choice between this and the Alagna/Gheorghiu version, still I have both.
One minor niggle is the insert, nice and glossy it only tells you things you do not want to know like who did the makeup.
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VINE VOICEon 1 April 2013
I never tire of watching this brilliant production of L'Elisir d'Amore, which the audience at the time of the recording obviously enjoyed immensely if the encore is anything to go by. The acting is every bit as good as the singing, which is top quality. Just to give one example: Anna Nebtrebko allowed the character of Adina to take her over completely and Rolando Villazon was equally convincing as Nemorino. The rest of the players were all equally good. Where, for instance could you find a better Dulcamara? Or a better Dulcamara's donkey pulling his cart? The sets and costumes by Jurgen Rose could not have been done better.

I read somewhere that someone thinks this production is 'dated'. I would be grateful if someone would explain to me what such terms as 'dated' and 'old fashioned' mean, especially as they always seemed to be used in a derogatory sense. Since logic tells us that everything becomes dated, are we being told that everything in the past is somehow not quite up to standard and that everything we do now is somehow better than anything done in the past? For example, isn't calling something 'dated' tantamount to saying that anything Jane Austin wrote is no good because it's 'dated' or 'old fashioned'?

The plain truth is that 'dated' and 'old fashioned' are clichés used as euphemisms for something such as e.g. 'this is a production made and acted by a set of old fogies who lived in some silly old past age.' Such an attitude is both utterly ridiculous and meaningless. Productions can be well done, indifferently done or badly done irrespective of their their performance dates. All the truly wonderful and enjoyable things about this great production have all been well, and indeed better, said by other reviewers and I wholeheartedly agree with all the five star reviews. This is a timeless staging that fits into any day and age. I love every bit of this production and wholeheartedly recommend it. Buy and enjoy.
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on 15 May 2014
For opera virgins I cannot do better than to reference the pithy summary contained within the " Good Opera Guide" by Dennis Forman which is a must read book......

This is the most lovable of comic operas. The characters are not cardboard cut-outs but believable real people - we feel for the main male character ( Nemorino ) in his unswerving devotion to the brassy Adina whom we come to love. One of our most famous conductors defined a good tune as one that enters the ear with facility and quits the memory with difficulty. If this was applied to all, not just Italian, operas this one would emerge as a clear winner, a little miracle, pure enjoyment from overture to curtain call.

As an amateur but very experienced opera enthusiast I can thoroughly recommend this performance which is wonderfully sung and , in particular, acted. There is a priceless moment when Nemorino sung by Rolando Villazon successfully juggles three small balls in the air much to the seemingly, ie genuine, amazement of Adina ( Anna Netrebko - superb as normal ) who applauds.
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on 16 April 2015
I can't do better than all the other rave reviews. My only quibble refers to the tempo at which the conductor takes the utterly beautiful first act duet between Adina and Nemorino, which seems to me a (heart) beat too slow. This is the only point at which the Met vastly inferior version (ruined among other things by Pavarotti at his obese worst) under Levine gets the lilting rhythm exactly right.
Does anyone else agree?
But what is that compared to the pleasure of the Vienna's superb rendering of this charming opera.
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on 14 May 2015
Hello, I purchase d this dvd about two weeks back and havn;t stopped playing it yet, it is absolutly brilliant, the singing is fantasitc, especcially when you have two of the worlds best opera stars, well not two, but four, and including the chorus. Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon are out of this world, they are truly stunning, Rolando Villazons singing of, "Una Furtiva Lagrima," is absolutly beautiful, and thouroughly deserved the Encore he got after, what else can i say, this DVD, is an absolute must for all opera lovers. all in all, the whole cast are fantastic,
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on 18 February 2015
Stunning!!! Rolando Villazon is perfect and by the way ACTS the part and character to perfection, too. Anna Netrebko is hardly overshadowed and gives a wonderful performance.

I actually prefer this to the Pavarotti version. Sorry, Luciano...:-)
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on 20 May 2016
Buy it, you will not regret it!
Just a small flaw, seargent Belcore is an old man which is quite offputting at first, but he manages to do very well!
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on 31 May 2015
This opera I enjoyed so much Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon were both superb both singing and acting they really did bring the house down what a great opera.
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on 20 May 2015
What can I say.
This is the only DVD of an opera I've ever come across that includes a full encore (Una furtive lagrima of course)
Totally enjoyable.
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