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VESPRI SICILIANI, I (Verdi)


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Aug. 24 1999)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B00000JMH7
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #218,367 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. I Vespri Siciliani: Act I: Overture
2. I Vespri Siciliani: Act I: A te, ciel natio
3. I Vespri Siciliani: Act I: Qual s'offre al mio sguardo
4. I Vespri Siciliani: Act I: O mio fratel, Federigo!
5. I Vespri Siciliani: Act I: Assai nappi vuotammo
6. I Vespri Siciliani: Act I: In alto mare: Deh! tu calma, O Dio possente
See all 26 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. I Vespri Siciliani: Act III, Scene 1: Prelude
2. I Vespri Siciliani: Act III, Scene 1: Si, m'abboriva ed a ragion!
3. I Vespri Siciliani: Act III, Scene 1: ll cavaliero ricusava
4. I Vespri Siciliani: Act III, Scene 1: In braccio alle dovizie
5. I Vespri Siciliani: Act III, Scene 1: Sogno, o son desto?
6. I Vespri Siciliani: Act III, Scene 1: Quando al mio sen per te parlava
See all 19 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. I Vespri Siciliani: Act I: Overture
2. I Vespri Siciliani: Act I - A te, ciel natio
3. I Vespri Siciliani: Qual s'offre al mio sguardo
4. I Vespri Siciliani: O mio fratel, Federigo!
5. I Vespri Siciliani: Assai nappi vuotammo
6. I Vespri Siciliani: In alto mare; Deh! tu calma, O
See all 26 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Audio CD
Like so many operas, my first introduction to I VESPRI SICLILIANI was via a Metropolitan Opera radio broadcast. I remember falling in love with some parts of the opera, but did not purchase a recording of the work until many years later when a live version was released on CD. The live version had some flaws, so when RCA re-released this version, I purchased it right away.
Objectively, it is easy to see why it never became a mainstay in most opera houses. It is a somewhat long opera and it is one of Verdi's less consistent works. While it contains some great moments, beginning with the overture which is a popular concert piece, and some great vocal opportunities for the lead soprano, tenor, bass, and baritone, there are some lackluster moments, choral parts that are difficult even for the best choral groups, and a long ballet that has some interesting musical moments but is just a bit too long. Keep in mind, however, that Verdi at his not so great is still better than most composers and fans of Verdi will find much to love in this opera and recording.
The cast of this recording is what makes it a treasure. Many lament the fact that the original Elena, Montserrat Caballe had to be replaced. While I have no doubt she would compliment an already great cast, she was replaced by Martina Arroyo who is more than adept at the role. Martina Arroyo, in my opinion, is a vastly underrated soprano and her vocal talents shine forth in this set in the role of Elena. She sings the powerful and difficult Act I aria "Coraggio su Coraggio" with ease. She likewise sings the opera's showpiece "Mere Dilette Amiche" rather well and compares with the likes of Callas and Sills who used this work as a concert piece. We also have a young Placido Domingo as Arrigo.
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By A Customer on Nov. 27 2003
Format: Audio CD
As far as I know, there is no other recording of this opera out there to compare it to. However, I don't give it five stars because it has nothing to challenge it. I give it five stars because it is truly a wonderful recording of the work. Even if Caballe was first scheduled to sing the role of Elena, she didn't record it here, nor did she sing the role when it was premiered at the MET. Arroyo sang it then, too.
It has been commented that this opera is one of Verdi's least satisfactory. I am not sure of that, Alzira is not that great. However, it is an opera with a load of problems. It is a good story, that is true (but the story is the exact same one, with names changed, as Donizetti's Duc d'Alba, a thing Verdi would later be taken to task for) but no one is very memorable as a character, or as anything. I feel for singers who have to make characters out of virtually nothing. They have great music to sing, even music that is vigorous, but they never develop as characters. Domingo at least sings a character who does develop somewhat (after all, he does learn the man he hates is really his father). The rest are so stock it isn't funny.
Milnes sings wonderfully, as he does in all Verdi (and in most everything he sings) and infuses life into his character.
The complaint most have is the weakness of Martina Arroyo in the role of Elena. Firstly, I doubt Verdi ever wrote such a faceless heroine in anything he wrote. Even reading the words and taking them alone nothing of importance comes out of her mouth. Caballe may have added some vocal splendors that Arroyo didn't, even used her incredible pianissimo to such affect as to make us think something was really happening here. Yet, even she couldn't give life to such a lifeless character.
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Format: Audio CD
This was Verdi's first try at writing an original work for the Paris Opera. The librettist, Scribe, gave Verdi a warmed-over millstone of a libretto that he'd originally written for Donizetti. The five-act structure in combination with the cliche of a text proved too cumbersome, for in spite of all the glorious music Verdi wrote to lift his work out of the depths of mediocrity, the opera never makes the "escape velocity" of "Aida", "Traviata", etc. It does, however, make several sustained flights, enjoyable even if they don't last forever.
RCA's 1973 recording also remains earthbound, due mainly to the tepid contribution of Martina Arroyo as Elena. Arroyo served as replacement for Montserrat Caballe, who, due to pregnancy, couldn't participate as planned. That's not to say her singing is objectionable. It's just that Caballe would have been more helpful in making the "sound and fury" cohere. Domingo, Milnes, Raimondi, and Levine are all powerful elements which make their presence strongly felt, but aren't sufficient to make their chain stronger than "the weak link".
Aside from the cast, the recording was originally a model of early 70's stereo sonority. It's a shame that BMG couldn't have done a better job of transferring it to CD. In its present incarnation, the sound is painfully edgy, obscuring the warmth of the voices and instruments. In spite of the botched remastering job, this is still the best recording of this opera available on the market.
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