on 20 March 2008
This is early 'bel canto' Verdi. Musically not yet his best but still pretty good.
The DVD is from a 1983 recording, although it looked older, the picture was rather dim and the colours faded. The advantage is that Pavarotti was then not so overweight and was able to move freely around the stage.
The 4 principals were all fine singers with Ruggero Raimondi for me getting the top honours.
The production treated this very much as 'bel canto' opera i.e. a showcase for the singers with the story and the drama a poor second. This was made worse by the audience who seemed to be in a mood to applaud anything and everything. Some of the singing was very fine and deserved the applause but every scene change (including some quite minor ones) was also applauded. The result was to badly break up the flow of the action.
For me this version falls between two stools. As 'bel canto' opera the music is not really good enough to alone sustain 2hrs worth of opera - the drama is needed as well. As drama however this production was far too plodding and uninvolving (the La Scala version under Muti was drammatically much better). The audience reaction was interesting, in the first act there was very little coughing but by the fourth act the coughing was becoming quite noticeable and intrusive. This suggests that by the fourth act the audience were losing interest in the whole thing, and in truth so was I.