This is the COMPLETE version of the Baden-Baden Concert on July 2007, available on DVD from DG, whereas the CD is the excerpted version.
By ALL means get this DVD version, since it contains double the contents of the CD, with some BEST performances NOT available on the CD version. (Plus stunning visual effects, of course).
Having reviewed the CD version earlier on, I must say that the complete concert reveals some thing quite different and interesting.
DG, in its inlaid leaflet, claims that its two artists Elina Garanca and in particular Anna Netrebko alone would have made the concert a success.
True - but only to a certain extent, and the truth lies mainly in the VISUAL aspect.
Without doubt, both Netrebko and Garanca are top-notch singers. Netrebko owns a voice whose unfathomable lyricism is hard to beat these days from any lyrical soprano. Garanca is a top-notch coloratura mezzo-soprano in the league of the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Both ladies attired in Escada's gowns and Chopard jewelry, really presented a wonderful blend of commercialism and artistry.
Having said that, IMHV, the best performances that evening, rather from the two ladies, came from much less well-known (allow me to say so since I do not reside in Europe) French baritone Ludovic Tezier.
Right after the Norma duet from Netrebko and Garanca after the opening sinfonia, Tezier gave the concert its 'morning call' by his Il Puritani solo aria, a wonderful display of lyrical baritone, rich in tone and flying in coloratura singing. Garanca's Rossini aria from La Cenerantola is the second showpiece, fully demonstrating an agile coloratura. Her Italian diction suffering slightly from comparison with Tezier's, who, by all standards, is a great Verdian baritone in the making judging from his impeccable Italian and wonderful Verdian interpretation in the two Don Carlo excerpts that evening. All these wonderful pieces, apart from Tezier's Don Carlo solo, are NOT available on the CD version.
The two MET stars Ramon Vargas and Anna Netrebko were the natural spotlights in this evening, but Vargas, with a significant reduction in body weight, suffered also a reduction in vocal prowess. His shimmering upper register, so famously beautiful, lost some of its usual lustre this evening. On the whole, his performance could be termed 'passable', but short of brilliant.
Anna Netrebko's voice being as stunning as ever, the focus got onto her diction as she sang in Italian, German and French on this particular evening. My alien ears however failed to catch the differences, and had to reort to the subtitles' search to find out in what language she was singing, as all sounded so much alike.
The Lehar encore piece by Anna included a stunning dancing stint from the soprano, and would otherwise have been perfect but for the slight hiccup in the returning section, luckily speedily picked up by conductor Armiliato. This piece certainly was NOT included in the CD version.