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on 29 August 2008
At last the DVD I have waited so long for. 1983, Dimitrova was at the height of her substantial powers. This very traditional Verona Arena production has come up well on DVD, the sound far superior to the vhs version. At this time there were another two or three Turandots to see, so they would have you believe. Marton was excellent and she can be found from the Met or Vienna. Unfortunately Dimitrova was never filmed in the excellent Covent Garden production, they showed Gwyneth Jones but never released it on VHS or DVD...............
Good support from the rest of the cast and a fine Liu from Gasdia. Sadly Dimitrova is no longer with us and it is a shame we only have a small selection of what she achieved on stage. These days they turn up for the radio broadcast and the TV recording and cry off most of the other performances. She wasn't the greatest of actresses but for a full throated thrilling sound in repertoire she suited she was matchless. BUY IT!!
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on 30 January 2009
Ghena Dimitrova is superb as the icy princess in this fabulous production from Verona. She is supported by a more than capable cast and the sound and picture quality is very good for the period.
Played on a large screen with a multi speaker set-up, the size and atmosphere of the huge stage and sets of this magnificient production comes over very well, and as the evening draws in and the sky darkens this adds to the atmosphere and build up of the drama.
Highly recommended
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on 15 October 2009
At the moment there are two DVDs of Turandot to consider; (the Blu-ray version with Mehta is a huge disappointment, so do not fall into that Blu-ray trap), but the other two should be concerned as top notch.
The one we are dealing with here is a DVD with Ghena Dimitrova in the title roll of Turandot, and the second DVD has Eva Marton in the role of Turandot (Metropolitan production/ Levine conducting).

A direct comparison between these two star's voices as Turandot is rewarding:
Even with the 'personalized' microphone extensively used to capture the sound of the Verona Arena, one could perceive how big and intense Ghena Dimitrova's voice actually is (when she begun to sing - I though for a second that she might be a latent Mezzo-Soprano, that's where her lower register is concern... I later went to the internet to look her up and was, not much surprised, that at the on-start of her vocal studies she was categorized as a Mezzo-Soprano).
And here lies the clove between Ghena Dimitrova, and Eva Marton: Eva Marton has very little substance to her voice at the lower register, so much so that to a degree it almost disappears (sunken-down for a duration of a phrase or two).

One should also observe that Ghena Dimitrova's lower register is "cut from a slightly different kind of cloth" than her mid-register and surly from her top register. Both singer's mid-register and top register is full throat with a lot of substance and "bloom" (Eva Marton's top register is more 'silvery' - while Ghena Dimitrova's sound more like a 'golden trumpet' and is pushed forward with lots of muscle.
Both are an excellent choice for Turandot.

The staging with the Verona Arena can hardly compete with the colorful Franco Zeffirelli Metropolitan opera staging.
With all of the people on the Arena stage it still looks unpopulated. One can only imagine what that stage would look like with a grand Zeffirelli staging...

The supporting cast for the metropolitan (Levin conducting/Zeffirelli staging) is as good as that of the Verona Arena:
On the Metropolitan DVD we have Timur's portrayal by Paul Frishka which is inspiring and holds well against veteran Ivo Vinco that sings this role for the Verona Arena.
While Liu portrayal with Cecilia Gasodia (for the Arena production) has the best ever Liu singing: the voice is fresh, young-sounding, almost innocent, and her looks is so childish, girlish-like that it immediately convinces you it is the real thing (I am quite certain that the singer Cecilia Gasodia would make a marvelous Mimi in La-Bohem, Marguerite in Faust, Gilda in Rigoletto and more...)
Yet, Leona Mitchel for the Metropolitan/Levin/Zeffirelli in that same roll makes the text and her reasoning for staying with the old blind king a heart breaking conviction when she sings, "because ones, st the old palace, you have smiled at me..." that's what she says to Calaf Timur's son.
The way Leona Mitchell (Metropolitan/Levin works that phrase out makes the whole Liu character clear and justified. (Actually, because of that musical passage Liu's roll is much more clearer than Turandot's motivation as a whole).
And than you have Placido Domingo for the Metropolitan...(though a bit later in his carrier but still in excellent vocal shape, where he still can touch the Nessun Dorma;s high note - and unfortunately have to let it go in a very short span of time not holding to it like the younger Martinucci (for the Arena production). Martinucci's voice is fresh, right into the pitch, silvery and exact. He should be consider as one of the best Italian tenors for this and other high-voltage roles for his voice treads in the best sense of the true Italian singing tradition (one would wish he was a foot taller and build more robustly, however so as to posses a more stage vigor.
Amongst other singers in the support cast one should not forget the old emperor's roll: just a short remark here: the Metropolitan has the best ever emperor in sung/played/spoken/ veteran Hugues Cuenod (I believe he is on stage for more than 50 years now...)

To sum it all up: The choice is both these productions:
You CAN NOT fully grasp what the Turandot roll in singing is all about without both productions.
This is an extremely difficult roll with a lot of demands on the voice. It has to be sung almost all of the time in Forte and increase to Fore-Fortissimo; one high note leading to an even higher note with no pause for a breath in between (it is not for nothing that Ghena Dimitrova tells the interviewer on teh internet review that she do not like to sing this roll too many times. Callas said she abandoned this roll at the first chance she got. Lilly Lehman said she would prefer to sing three Isolda(s) and not one Turandot...)
This is a difficult roll carried superbly by both; Ghena Dimitrova - and Eva Marton.
My personal tendency is towards Ghena Dimitrova and the Verona Arena if only for the pure vocal talents there.
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on 1 March 2009
Anyone that saw "Death of Self in the Morse series will know this arena. It is one of the best recordings I have seen of this opera. The character Liu is quite brilliantly sung. It has a sharp rendition of what is often over-presented. A must have!
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on 14 April 2009
This production is spectacular, the sinders are exceptional. Ghena Dimitrova is certainly the best Turandot ever, seems like the part was written especially for her. The staging and the cast are excellent.
Also Martinucci is very impressive as Calaf.
Surely the DVD is worth watching and is a must for every Puccini and opera fan.
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on 23 July 2014
I have had the VHS version since the 1980s and thought I would never find DVD version. Ghenna Dimitrova is the most powerful, cunning and iciest Turandot imaginable. All the cast were brilliant once one can overcome Luciano Paravarotti was not cast as Calaf.
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on 24 August 2015
A very production but could have been improved with English sub titles
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on 13 July 2015
wish opera was like that these days brilliant singing
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on 9 July 2014
Happy with quality
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on 9 September 2015
Very fine!
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