Delighted to finally see and hear Verdi's first opera Oberto, I now can follow the master's works from the beginning. For this purpose I accept the performance as given at the Palacio Euskalduna de Bilbao on 26 & 29 January 2007.
Since a DVD of this opera is such a rarity, the cast should have been more carefully selected. Considering the story is set in 13th-century Northern Italy, the life expectancy of the people was low and Riccardo, with an eye on a future heir, would definitely not have tried to marry a matron beyond childbearing age. That's exactly what the overweight Cunzia of this Bilbao performance wants us, the viewer, to believe.
The flickering torches in the back of the stage give the proper atmosphere to the scenes, but the person behind the camera didn't take care during the filming; while Riccardo sings his arias, the camera is pointed so that the torch's flame exits Riccardo's head. Twice!
Obviously, the singers tried their best and they succeeded to an acceptable level.
The DVD comes with a booklet that brings the synopsis of the opera and a worthy essay about Verdi, the making of the opera in English, French. German, and Spanish, and includes even Hölderlin's line: "It's better to die because one has lived than to live because one has never lived."