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Ruggero Raimondi - My Favourite Opera: Don Giovanni
Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Communale Di Bologna/Riccardo Chailly
Stage Director: Luca Ronconi
Picture format: 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo
rec. 1992
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Languages: English, Italian
Subtitles: Italian (original language), English, German, French EUROARTS DVD 2001828 [58:00]

It seems that My Favourite Opera is a new line from EuroArts. The series will study the results of involvement of a particular artists with a specific role. In this case it is the internationally acclaimed Bolognese bass-baritone Ruggero Raimondi (b. 1941). The contents of the disc are built around his return to Bologna. This is his birthplace and there he is to perform his favourite opera, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, at the historic Teatro Communale. He works under the musical direction of the conductor Riccardo Chailly and the stage direction of Luca Ronconi, two famous figures in the operatic world. This is nothing unusual for Raimondi. He has performed under all the leading conductors of the last forty years; likewise the greatest directors.
Alongside pictures the opening spoken resumé (CH.1) tells us that Raimondi has sung the role of Don Giovanni over four hundred times since the start of his professional career in 1964. Since his appearance at Glyndebourne in 1969 he has sung it in many of the world’s major opera houses and, most notably, in the memorable 1978 film made by Joseph Losey. Other notable films featuring Raimondi are Francesco Rosi’s production of Carmen (1984) in which he sings Escamillo and Benoit Jacquot’s Tosca – the latter capturing his fearsome Scarpia (2003). These continue to be available in the visual medium, as do many Raimondi performances from the world’s opera houses and festivals across a diverse repertoire and variety of roles.
The present film takes us through the stages of preparation of Don Giovanni illustrated by musical excerpts at rehearsals. The whole matter of the opera’s production, from piano rehearsals to staging with and without costume and orchestra are covered; there’s even a prompter present (CH.8). The closing scene is a particular focus presented as it is in its final form (CH.9).
Whilst the process of getting an opera onto the stage is interesting, even more so are the insights the film gives into Raimondi himself. We are shown how he prepares his voice (CH.2), how he relaxes with his friends and family (CH.3) and how he gives something back by coaching students at the Bologna Conservatory (CH. 5).
Many people who have taken to watching live opera via the regular cinema transmissions from the Metropolitan Opera, New York, have told me how they have enjoyed the intermission talks with the singers and even seeing the scenery moved around and erected. This takes that sort of knowledge a stage further by following a singer involved in all the stages of a production as well as giving insights into his life outside the theatre. As such I think it should interest all opera-lovers as well as Ruggero Raimondi admirers, and at a reasonable price.
Robert J Farr