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on 21 June 2011
There are 11 operas in the set, nicely boxed, with artistic covers that reflect detail of La Scala decor rather than snapshots of content. Some are popular titles, others not so readily known. The enclosed booklets are comprehensive with act by act synopses, and the libretto. The productions are all of the standards one would expect from La Scala. Many of the lead artistes are well known and all of good or better standards. I would single out La Fanciulla del West, with Domingo as a good baddie and Pons as a Bad goodie. Zampieri is an appealing Minnie. The sets are particularly to my liking. I do not give a full five stars as there are two operas not to my liking, but this is purely a personal preference. Firstly Guglielmo Tell, after the brilliant overture the opera goes on, and on, and on, no amount of good singing can rescue it for me. It also has some strange backdrops. Secondly I Due Foscari, this is a depressing story, in depressing dark settings, there is little light relief, obviously not La Scalas fault, but inherent from Verdi.
Back to the positive this is an excellent buy and I remain very pleased with my choice.
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All eleven operas are full length, in fine La Scala productions with excellent singing and mainly conducted by Ricardo Muti. The staging is traditional, but with a modern uncluttered emphasis. All the operas are in 4:3 format except "Lucia" which is letterboxed wide screen.

For this reviewer the revelation is "Pergolesi - La frate `nnamorato", how a comedy 276 years old can be so fresh and vibrant is an amazing tribute to the production.

Mozart - Cosi fan tutte - 1989 Muti - This production gains enormously by being played "straight" instead of the usual embarrassing attempts at comedy to enliven the wafer thin plot; as a result the arias and ensembles are reminiscent of a recital with very fine backgrounds and the uniformly excellent ensemble cast usually positioned symmetrically on the stage.

Pergolesi - La frate `nnamorato - 1989 Muti - There is quite a complex romantic plot to this delicious comic opera from 1732, beautifully realised in a very attractive circular revolving stage set and pristine neutral costumes. Superb singing and acting make for a very special treat.

Rossini - Gugliemo Tell - Muti - Rossini's last and one of the grandest of grand operas. Rossini subsequently had serious doubts about "Tell", and this uncut four hour version represents either heavenly length or excessive longeurs. The use of multiple back projection screens throughout showing constantly changing views of Swiss scenery work well, but the stage set baffles me, as this is a political drama maybe the shadowy rows of seats are intended to represent a legislative chamber. The tenor role of Arnoldo is one of the most demanding in opera and is carried off very well by Chris Merritt as part of an excellent cast.

Rossini - La Donna del Lago - 1992 Muti - Magnificent production of a melodrama where Elena (June Anderson the Lady of the Lake) is in love with Malcolm (Martine Dupuy), her father (Giorgio Surjan) has arranged her marriage with Rodrigo (Chris Merritt) who is leading an insurrection against the King. The opera commences with Elena meeting a mysterious stranger (Rockwell Blake) the third man in love with her. Set beneath the looming walls of a gloomy castle this is an absolutely gripping performance.

Donizetti - Lucia di Lammermoor - 1992 Ranzani - Staged in dark brooding settings that reflect the stark melodramatic nature of the plot this is a great production. Lucia (Mariella Devia) sings superbly throughout and even brings off the over long mad scene brilliantly. Partnered well by Edgardo (Vincenzo la Scola) and opposed aggressively by her brother Enrico (Renato Bruson) this is an involving and moving performance. The only DVD in the set with letterbox widescreen.

Mozart - Don Giovanni - 1987 Muti - A very involving, well acted and sung version that vividly portrays the callous cynical nature of Giovanni and the effect on the women he wrongs. Ann Murray is a very moving Donna Elvira and by the quality of her performance becoming a central pivot of the opera. A superb cast including Thomas Allen as Giovanni, Gruberova as Donna Anna, Claudio Desderi as Leporello. The costumes are sumptuous and embellished to the point of decadence, but unfortunately the highly saturated video quality somehow lacks impact.

Verdi - I due Foscari - 1988 Gavazzeni - An early Verdi Opera based on a poem by Byron and for those than can take this much unremitting tragedy, grief and injustice this is a good performance. Renato Bruson has the best part as the Doge, whilst poor Linda Roark-Strummer and Luigi Roni endure the brunt of the everlasting despair and farewells as Jacopo Foscari the Doges son and his wife Lucrezia. The staging is dominated by the towering Doge's throne approached by a very long staircase, and the sight of the frail old Doge slowing ascending makes a striking statement.

Verdi - Attila - 1991 Muti - Samuel Ramey as Attila provides the finest personal performance in this collection, The dual relationship of respect and enmity between Giorgio Zancanaro as the Roman general Ezio and Attila is very well portrayed. Cheryl Studer gives a strong performance as Odabella a female warrior figure.

Verdi - I Vespri Siciliani - 1990 Muti - This heavyweight five act melodrama followed Rigoletto and is the first of the operas on the path to Verdi's great middle period (Don Carlos, Simon Boccanegra, Forza del Destino). With a flawed libretto and no really sympathetic characters this is a difficult opera calling for large forces and big production values, Muti succeeds brilliantly. Fine singing from the leads Giorgio Zancanaro as the French Governor of Sicily Guido di Monforte, and the opposing Sicilian patriots Arrigo (Chris Merritt), La Duchesa Elena (Studer) and Giovanni da Procida (Ferruccio Furlanetto). The production includes the ballets included by Verdi for Parisian taste increasing the length but adding nothing to the drama.

Cilea - Adriana Lecouvreur - Gavazzeni - This quintessential Italian opera of love and betrayal set in the theatre sees the actress Adriana Lecouvreur (Mirella Freni) and her rival Principessa di Bouillon (Florenza Cossotto) vying for the attentions of Maurizo (Peter Dvorsky). All the roles including Michonnet (Allessandro Cassis) as the theatre manager hopelessly in love with Adriana are excellently sung in a very fine production with much rapturous applause from the audience who seemed to have a particular affection for the veteran conductor Gavazzeni .

Puccini - Fanciulla del West - 1991 Maazel - Unusual for Puccini this is fundamentally a play set to music in an excellent production conducted by Lorin Maazel. Set in a goldminers' camp Minnie (Mara Zamperi) is a great creation, a woman that supports and helps the men in general, is avoiding the attentions of the Sheriff Jack Rance (Juan Pons) and falls in love with a bandit Placido Domingo.

Conclusion - The majority of the operas are ones that slip of the wish list and therefore this set is a winning way of add them to your collection.

If you want these operas don't hesitate, this is a very special DVD set.
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on 27 December 2011
The La Scala Collection is a superb production. Even though these opera's were televised over 25 years ago, the film clarity and the sound quality is superb. This collection is a joy.
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on 5 January 2013
This is a fine set of good, traditional La Scala productions with excellent casts and some rarities, not otherwise available. The weakest aspect of the set is the chorus. Although they sing well, they usually do not act at all and frequently look uninvolved.

Don Giovanni: An ideal and outstanding cast with Thomas Allen, Edita Gruberova, Francisco Araiza and Ann Murray all in superb form. Riccardo Muti is an exceptional Mozart conductor and the production is top class. It is hard to imagine a better presentation of this great opera.

Guglielmo Tell: William Tell is an underrated grand opera. This is a fine production with a cast which is mature in looks but vocally excellent, especially Giorgio Zancanarro as Tell and Cheryl Studer as Matilde. The filmed backdrops of Swiss mountains and stormy lakes work very well. The ballet sequences are excellent. Highly recommended.

Lucia di Lammermoor: Grand gothic sets and traditional costumes make for a convincing gloomy tragedy. Renato Bruson is commanding in both voice and appearance as Enrico, Lucia's brother. Mariella Devia is in brilliant voice for the demanding role of Lucia, producing a memorable mad scene. The rest of the cast is first rate. This is a really fine performance, shot in wide-screen.

La Fanciulla del West: Another fine production with great acting and singing from Placido Domingo, Juan Pons and Maria Zampieri as the eponymous heroine. Lorin Maazel receives a deserved ovation from the La Scala audience. The production is by Jonathan Miller and works well.

Lo frate'nnamorato: This tuneful comic opera from 1732 is given a sparkling performance with Muti conducting an excellent cast. The set is a rotating piece of Baroque architecture with stairs spiralling up to two rooms. This, along with the period costumes, is highly successful. A delightful opera which deserves to be better known.

Cosi fan Tutte: A delightful and captivating production which captures the humour and depth of this great opera. The cast is superb with Daniela Dessi delivering a wonderful 'Come Scoglio' and Adelina Scarabelli outstanding as Despina. Muti's conducting is perfection, as usual.

I due Foscari: Ranto Bruson gives an outstanding performance as Francesco Foscari, the doomed Doge of Venice in Verdi's setting of Byron's drama. Equally good are Alberto Cupido and Linda Roark-Strummer as the Doge's unjustly exiled son and daughter-in-law. This is a thrilling performance of Verdi's early masterpiece.

I vespri Siciliani: The first disappointment in this box, this Verdi opera is well sung and played but the production is static and the sets lackluster. The chorus looks uninvolved throughout. Things only take off when the dancers appear for the rape of the Sicilian women and the lengthy ballet sequence in Act 3. The lithe young dancers contrast uncomfortably with the immobile singers.

La Donna del Lago: Werner Herzog directed this production, with sets consisting of rocky crags and rough-hewn steps which rotate around the stage to form canyons or caves. This is very effective, providing a grand romantic view of Scotland. June Anderson, as the eponymous Ellen, leads a fine cast in this top class production.

Attila: The sets and costumes are very good in this production of a little-known Verdi opera filled with memorable music. Samuel Ramey and Giorgio Zancanaro are outstanding in a strong cast. Muti, once again, has the measure of the music. Not to be missed.

Adriana Lecouvreur: A fine cast, headed by Mirella Freni, Fiorenza Cossotto and Peter Dvorsky, lead this successful traditional production. The third act ballet is particularly successful. This operatic tale of rivalry and jealousy is skilfully conducted by the elderly Gianandrea Gavazenni and rounds of this set of La Scala productions in great style.
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on 24 July 2014
Have not quite finished this but am over half way through. These are all La Scala productions from around 1990, so the quality of the DVD is not up to current standards. However, it is perfectly OK. The actual performances are wonderful. Placido Domingo as Mr Johnson in Puccini's La fanciulla del West, Cheryl Studer as odabella in Verdi's Attila will give you an idea. The conductors likewise, including Muti and Maazel. For me this collection was perfect. My main operatic interest is Richard Strauss, Britten and Wagner. I have been going back into the 19C repertoire and already have a good Verdi collection. This collection provides as range of operas from Pergolesi to Mozart, Rossini etc. There are only a couple of overlaps with my existing collection. So job done at a very reasonable price: I doubt I would ever have purchased a Rossini unless as part of a collection! I have not been bored for a minute with any of the performances I have seen up to now. For those who want a top class video recording, something more recent will be necessary: for example, these are not widescreen and the picture quality is far from what we expect now. However, if like me you are really mainly interested in the music, then this is a secondary issue.
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on 30 April 2014
Don't expect great picture quality with these, but that hardly matters when the sound is good and the operas are so well performed. Must admit I haven't got through them all yet, but so far I'm impressed. I also love the look of the set, somehow the red and black spines of the dvd's in the box look grand along with my other opera dvd's and blu-ray's.
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on 30 December 2014
Watched a couple of these DVD's over Christmas and delighted with them. The one missing DVD is being shipped out and very impressed with the customer service in putting this omission right. Excellent
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on 23 January 2014
I go along with the majority views on this DVD set and as a recent convert to VERDI
I'm thoroughly engine enjoying the experience. Highly recommended
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on 8 July 2016
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on 6 November 2014
Xmas gift, arrived promptly and loved by recipient. Thank you
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