December 2004 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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DVD Review

Great Puccini Love Scenes and other opera favourites  

  • Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
    • Madama Butterfly
      ('Vogliatemi bene')
      Raina Kabaivanska as Butterfly and Nazzareno Antinori as Pinkerton
      Conducted by Maurizio Arena
      (recorded at the Arena di Verona in July 1983)
    • La fanciulla del west
      ('Non potrò mai capire', 'Ch'ella mi creda')
      Placido Domingo as dick Johnson and Carol Neblett as Minni
      Conducted by Nello Santi
      (recorded at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in November 1982)
    • Manon Lescaut
      ('Vedete? Io son fidele', 'In quelle trine morbide', 'Tu non m'ami dunqueil tuo…vieni ! Colle tue braccia stringi', 'Ah Manon mi tradisce il tuo folle pensier', 'Ansier eternal, crudel')
      Placido Domingo as Des Grieux and Kiri Te Kanawa as Manon Lescaut
      Conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli
      (recorded at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in May 1983)
    • Il Tabarro ('O Luigi! Luigi!)
      Sylvia Sass as Giorgetta; Nicola Martinucci as Luigi; and Piero Cappuccilli as Michele
      conducted by gianandrea gavazzeni
      recorded at La Scala, Milan in February 1983
    • Tosca
      (Amaro sol per te m'era il morire)
      Eva Marton as Tosca and Giacomo Aragall as Cavaradosi
      Conducted by Daniel Oren
      (recorded at the Arena di Verona in August 1984)
    • La Bohème
      (Donde lieta usci, Sono andati)
      Neil Shicoff as Rodolfo; Ileana Cotrobas as Mimi; Thomas Allen as Marcello; Marilyn Zscau as Musetta
      Conducted by Lamberto Gardelli
      (recorded at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in February 1982)
  • Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
    • Die Fledermaus
      (O Gott, wie rührt mich dies, The Czardas)
      Kiri Te Kanawa as Rosalinde, Hildegard Heichele as Adèle, and Hermann Prey as Eisenstein
      conducted by Pacido Domingo (recorded at the Royal Opera House, Covent garden in December 1983)
  • Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880)
    • Les Contes d'Hoffmann
      ('Il était une fois à la cour d'Eisenach', 'Amis, l'amour tendre et rêveur, erreur!', 'O Dieu, de quelle ivresse')
      Placido Domingo as Hoffmann
      Conducted by Georges Prêtre
      (recorded at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in January 1981)
  • Giuseppe VERDI ( 1813-1901)
    • Otello
      ('A terra, si, nel livido fango', 'Piangea cantando…Ave Maria')
      Kiri Te Kanawa as Desdemona
      conducted by Zltan Pesko
      (recorded at the arena di Verona in July 1982)
    • Ernani
      ('Come rugiada al cespite', 'Ah, morir potessi adesso')
      Placido Domingo as Ernani and Mirella Freni as Elvira
      Conducted by Riccardo Mutti
      (recorded at La Scala, Milan in December 1982)

  •   Available on WARNER/NVC Arts DVD Video 0630-18771-2
    Running time: 111 mins approx.
    Crotchet   Amazon UK   Amazon US

    great puccini love scenes

    Here's a splendid idea for a Christmas present. A compilation of operatic favourites, many familiar as source music for countless movies but spiced enough with less familiar fare to captivate the interest of even the most jaded opera buff.

    The list above is self-commending, customers will be drawn by its content. It is assumed that all these selections have been drawn from the ever-expanding NVC Arts video opera catalogue.

    The Puccini excerpts have been artfully selected. They begin with a winsome performance of the ever-popular big Act 1 romantic duet from Madama Butterfly with Kabaivanska and Antinori looking somewhat lost in the large Arena di Verona. It is pleasing that no less than five excerpts have been included from the sumptuous Covent Garden production of Manon Lescaut. The ardent but vacillating Placido Domingo is putty in Kiri Te Kanawa's hands in the Act 2 duet under Sinopoli's intensely romantic direction.

    Te Kanawa features strongly in this compilation: tragically affecting in her Otello (Verdi) 'Willow Song' and, as Rosalinde, cheerily dismissive of her philandering husband, Eisenstein, in the Act I trio from Die Fledermaus with a cockily debonair Hermann Prey and a very cheeky Adèle as portrayed by Hildegard Heichele.

    Domingo also features in a number of excerpts including three lusty numbers from Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann with Domingo in the title role first seen drunkedly singing the ballad about a grotesque dwarf but then drifting off into a reverie about a beautiful woman before returning to the song about the dwarf. He is gallant in Verdi's Ernani, soulful in his duet 'Ah, morir potessi adesso with Mirella Freni.

    Returning to Puccini, Domingo is remorseful and self-sacrificing in Dick Johnson's big aria 'Ch'ella micreda'from La Fanciulla del West and winsome in his pursuit of Minnie (Carol Neblett) in their duet 'Non potro mai capire'. The Il Tabarro excerpt, from Puccini's Il Trittico, is most welcome, Sass and Martinucci splendidly expressive as the murderous, adulterous pair. La Bohème eschews the popular Act 1 duet in favour of the subtler but more affecting romantic exchange of Act 3 where Mimi gently tries to withdraw from her romance with Rodolfo and her Act 4 death scene. Ileana Cotrubas as Mimi is most affecting.

    A popular compilation of 1980s opera productions with many excerpts familiar as movie source music but enough less familiar selections to interest the cognoscenti. The Covent Garden sets are lavish. An ideal Christmas present.

    Ian Lace

    **** 4

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