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Customer Review

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good...but, a few negatives., 11 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Cilea - Adriana Lecouvreur [Blu-ray] [2012] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
I won't add anymore to the background of this opera, because all the other reviewers have done that for me, but since first experiencing this piece at the NY Met, many years ago, I had hoped Covent Garden would revive it. Why hasn't it been performed by the Royal Opera since 1906? The music just sweeps you away and although the plot is "a little sillier" than one can usually believe in (it's a shame Cilea cut the scene with Prince de Bouillon explaining to his wife how he had invented a poison that impregnated dust and could be used as a weapon in the most improbable situations - because that would have explained the poisoned violets better) it makes for a very entertaining evening.
Unlike most other reviewers, I don't like this production anymore than I did when I first saw it at the ROH; and although some scenes are done very well - the scene at Mlle Duclos' villa in particular - I found some of the antics at the Comedie-Francaise irritating. Also, having seen Olga Boradina's London debut at the Barbican with Dmitri Hvorostovsky, I too was shocked by the amount of weight she had put on and her limited acting (although her voice still seems to be intact). Jonas Kaufmann is excellent, his acting and voice are only matched by his stunning appearence. Alessandro Corbelli is also very well cast as Michonnet and gives a very touching performance. However, I am afraid that Angela Gheorghui is not suited to this role (as I felt with her Tosca) and although I appreciate that many opera buffs love her, I'm afraid she does nothing for me. She plays Adriana rather like a simpleton and her voice cannot soar or float through the complex musical lines. Although having said that, I really enjoyed this both live and on bluray - but, if you really want to hear or see this done to perfection, then get yourself a copy of the DVD of a performance from 1976 in Japan. The sound isn't as good, nor is the picture and it has japanese subtitles embedded in the relay. However, Montserrat Caballe and Jose Carreras are near perfect; if you like that, then get a copy of the double CD set of a performance in Naples in 1959 (Hardy Classics) - Franco Corelli and Magda Olivero will just blow you away!
In this recording, Jonas Kaufmann matches Carreras and almost matches Corelli; but there's more to this opera than the soaring melodies of Maurizio (as fantastic as they are) and for me, the protagonist of the piece is a huge let down. So, although I offer my apologies to all Angela's fans for my negative comments, I am compelled to say that, although flawed, this is a very good introduction to a very underated and neglected opera.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Oct 2013, 17:24:07 BST
JeanH says:
I would question whether so much weight should be given to a singer's... er, weight and general appearance. It is rather tragic to think that the finest tenor the world ever produced (in my opinion, anyway) would never have seen a stage or a camera had the present obsession with youth and beauty existed in his day. I refer to the great Jussi Bjorling, once described as looking like a bank manager. Yes, of course it is nice to have the whole package: voice, acting ability and looks, but the voice must always come first.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Oct 2013, 11:06:43 BST
I'm sorry, but I don't know your first name and I do usually like to be more personal when replying to a reply! I don't disagree with any of your comments and I didn't intend to add unproportionate attention to Ms Borodina's weight. However, we hadn't seen her 'live' since a concert she did many years ago at the Barbican with Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and as disagreeable as you obviously found my comment, her ballooning in weight and limited acting was very much the talking point amongst many of us in the floral hall during the intervals (at the performance my wife and I were at, anyway). It stood out in my mind after the final curtain call and I obvioulsy revisited it when I later watched the Bluray and put myself into the 'lion-pit' by offering my opinion in a review. Also, it is a fact of HD relays in the 21st Century that being able to act and look convincing is taking on increasing importance and is probably essential to maintain opera as a credible art-form amongst the younger generation (such as my two sons, who have been attending performances with us since they were 9 years old - as I did with my parents). In fact, James, now 21, came with us with his girl friend (who had never seen or heard an opera) to Don Carlos last season and she commented; 'I didn't think opera was like this. I thought it was full of fat, screechy old men and women.' Although to be fair, she had just seen Jonas Kaufmann!! So, don't be too dismissive of those of us who place increasing importance on interpretation and looks - and this comes from a guy who worships Pavarotti!! Would Callas be so revered today, I wonder, if her acting and looks weren't so phenomenal - I saw her at the very end of her career with my parents (who always worshiped her) but I thought she was awful and couldn't see what all the fuss was about. I'm glad you still support Bjorling, although I never saw him, my parents had many of his recordings, but his voice is not to my taste. My favourite tenors (in the subjective world of opinions) are Corelli and Pavarotti - although, Jonas Kaufmann is not bad either!

Posted on 6 Nov 2013, 01:42:23 GMT
Abert says:
Nigel,
I agree with you on almost every point in your review, but am less kind - I only gave three stars. So I got a lot more 'negative' votes.
Never mind.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Nov 2013, 14:06:53 GMT
Hi Amy:
I have just read your review and I have to confess that I do think you have been a tad harsh, but such things in this sphere are very subjective. I see you have notched up a few negative comments, but I have to say that I have never bothered about that, because we are only expressing an opinion. I also see that one of your reviewers has highlighted one of my comments about Olga Boradina being too fat - so I feel obliged to address that and point the guy to my comments page. Thank you, though, for your positive comments about my review.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Dec 2013, 08:58:34 GMT
Abert says:
Nigel,
I learned that Herr Kaufmann used this production to contest for the 'Laurence Olivier' Award that year and lost to Herr Gerhaher's Wolfram (Tanhausser).
Maurizio is not an endearing role. Melodious and catchy arias are almost absent. Jonas gave his best, really, and on hindsight, after comparing him vocally with the older recording of this work by Domingo/Scotto, I think Kaufmann wins the day. His Maurizio is real flesh and blood.
I remain disappointed by the blu-ray visual effects of the two lady leads.
If they were not collaborating with Kaufmann, may be things would be slightly better.
As it is, visually unconvincing is my impression.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Mar 2015, 23:30:14 BST
Last edited by the author on 29 Mar 2015, 23:39:33 BST
Nigel, Your review echoes many of my own impressions of the DVD. I rather like Gheorghiu's intimacy with the title role. Her voice does not irritate me in any way, either. Her major problem in a role so awesome as that of Adriana Lecouvreur is that she lacks the sublimity and grandeur of the truly great Adrianas (e.g., Faverò, Tebaldi, Olivero, even sadly underappreciated Gavazzi, for starters). Gheorghiu well depicts a woman's personal tragedy, but this opera is about EPIC tragedy, not just something less than that. I saw Tebaldli and Corelli at the Metropolitan Opera in this work, and -- man! -- what a difference! Tebaldi was simply sublime.

I agree that fat loaded to the hilt on opera singers' bones is a bit of a turn-off. I don't mind it so much in a live performance, but on DVD I do want a stage image to which I can return repeatedly with pleasure. In this case, however, since the Principessa di Bouillon is such an odious woman, it does not bother me that Borodina in that role is decidedly a fatty. However, thank God the Adriana is not one, nor is handsome Kaufmann; they are very stage-credible lovers, even rather sexy, in their looks. Tebaldi's Adriana was just right, imposing, statuesque, beautiful in a severe but womanly kind of way; she looked, sang, and acted like the true tragédienne. The results were remarkable, especially alongside Franco Corelli, who was the very visual definition of "hunk" and a wonderful co-protagonist vocally and dramatically.

Molinari-Pradelli, one of the 20th century's great opera conductors, led the orchestra in the Met performance which I saw. In the 3rd Act, for example, he kept the tension constant, menace never losing its grip. Mark Elder conducts more than just competently, but he lets one down in that act with the relative slakness of his conducting. In Adriana what happens in the orchestra pit is important to the total result.
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