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Verdi;Giuseppe Otello [Blu-ray] [Import]


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Product Details

  • Format: Classical, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC, Import
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: Italian, English, Spanish, French, German
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: C Major
  • Release Date: March 30 2010
  • ASIN: B0033II5EY

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Exemplary Otello June 14 2010
By J. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
In my view this is an exceptional performance of Otello, one that ranks with the best of those currently available on video disc. Along with Riccardo Muti's masterful leadership in the pit and the quality of playing from the members of the Vienna Philharmonic, there is wonderful singing by the three principles: Aleksandrs Antonenko (Otello), Marina Poplavskaya (Desdemona), and Carlos Alvarez (Iago). All three of these stars have beautiful voices which they use intelligently and with appropriate dramatic effect for this production.

Marina Poplavskaya easily takes her place with those lyric sopranos able to float beautiful pianissimos. However, the ease with which both Antonenko and Alvarez comfortably handle piano and pianissimo passages is both an unexpected bonus and quite beautiful to hear. Oh, they can certainly produce thrilling, ringing high notes when appropriate (check out the "Si pel Ciel" duet between Otello and Iago!), but when the score markings call for softer singing we are treated to something truly special.

For example, in Iago's Second Act aria, "Era la notte," Alvarez's pianissimo delivery evokes a degree of menace that's quite chilling. And the duet between Otello and Desdemona that brings Act One to a close is gorgeously sung and ends, not on competing forte high notes, but on softly sung high notes that allow their voices to blend with the believable tenderness of young lovers.

One hopes that Mr. Antonenko will be careful in his choice of roles as he builds his future repertoire so that he can preserve not only his heroic, ringing tenor voice, but also his ability to sing such lovely pianissimo notes when the music and the story-line call for it.

Secondary roles are all capably handled, with especially impressive singing by Stephen Costello (Cassio), Barbara Di Castri (Emilia), and Mikhail Petrenko (Lodovico).

The costuming in this production is nicely done in styles that are consistent with the time-setting of the story. As to the staging, those who admire the beauty and time-period-appropriate designs of, say, Franco Zeffirelli, will be disappointed. However this production's staging, though somewhat sparse, is not jarring and it does feature some interesting symbolic effects.

Most Blu-ray discs these days feature picture and sound quality that is a joy to the viewer/listener and this one does not disappoint. In addition, the disc's bonus extra, "Talking Otello," features especially interesting and insightful interviews with the stage director, Stephen Langridge, and with all of the principle singers and with several of those in secondary roles.

One minor criticism is Antonenko's acting which is a bit unimaginative, consisting mostly of striding aggressively around the stage and scowling or sneering. However, one has the impression that this young man will quickly move up the learning curve of his profession and that his acting will improve dramatically (pun not intended) in future performances of this opera.

A more serious criticism, and the reason for four stars instead of five, is the excessive use of extreme close-ups of the lead singers. (One can literally count the sweat drops on the faces of some of the singers, especially Antonenko's.) This technique, which inexplicably has become de rigueur with today's opera video directors, is more off-putting than it is entertaining. It robs viewers of the perspective and scope of a given scene as viewed by the opera theater's live audience. But even worse, it can completely destroy the mood of a given scene. A prime example is the end of the Act One love duet when Otello and Desdemona embrace and kiss prior to adjourning to their bedroom. Instead of being swept up by the music and the romantic mood of the moment, viewers are inclined to wonder what Ms. Poplavskaya was thinking as Mr. Antonenko planted a drippingly-wet kiss full on her lips!

On balance, however, a superb opera experience.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A superb and dramatic version of a hard hitting opera July 18 2012
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
This is a very exciting performance of Otello and is exactly what you would expect with Muti as the conductor. Otello is high-voltage Verdi and all the cast plus orchestra fully realise this vision. Not only is the singing of consistently high standard - so is the acting, so essential with opera generally and especially in these days of revealing photography.

The cast is of a uniformly high calibre. Aleksandra Antonenko is a good acting singer and in this performance he does not disappoint. Carlos Alverez makes a suitably devious counterpart as Jago (Iago) and Marina Poplavskaya is a credible Desdemona. The supporting roles are all strong and the overall performance carries considerable conviction.

The staging is minimalist and this will either succeed in concentrating the mind on the drama or not. This will be a very personal reaction and is therefore beyond the brief of this review. For me personally, it worked, largely as a result of the excellence of the singers in carrying out the dramatic requirements of their roles in addition to the purely vocal considerations.

The orchestra is given full reign and this led some newspaper reviewers attending the original performances at the Festival to comment about the balance which gave the orchestra such prominence relative to the singers. It is this aspect of balance that has drawn the most adverse reviewer comment. However, as a now retired orchestral player, I would like to stress that I find the sound to be superb and faithfully representative of the expected 'live' balances. It accurately reflects the sound world that I would expect from late Verdi which gives the orchestra far more prominence than that found in his early or middle period works.

Bearing in mind the range of critical responses to the recorded sound I sought the reaction of a 'hi-fi' enthusiast friend of mine. We listened to the opera carefully with the sound balances specifically in mind after which we discussed this very matter. We agreed that we would both expect the singers to be submerged occasionally considering the dramatic role given to the orchestral writing. To that extent the recording is completely faithful to both the composer and the performance. This is not a gentle story and needs to be played for the raw drama that it is. Otherwise the imaging can be described as sharp in typical HD fashion and the sound is presented in superbly realistic PCM 5.0 as well as stereo bearing in mind the provisos as above.

I would suggest that this is a very fine, perceptive and dramatic performance of a violent story. The recording does it full justice as does Muti who is temperamentally ideally suited to such an opera. This is a disc that deserves serious consideration as a potential purchase therefore.

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Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)

I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)

I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
Keep up the good work!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Otello for today. July 7 2011
By Ultrarunner - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
During the last 20 years of Verdi's life, Arrigo Boito, poet and composer himself, was to become a close friend. Their working relationship is one of the most remarkable in the History of opera. Boito was the Librettist in 1880 who helped Verdi revise Simon Boccanegra. Then came the two Shakespearian operas Otello and Falstaff, reckoned to be the twin glories of Italian opera.

This live performance of Otello was part of the 2008 Salzburg Festival. Riccardo Muti,is at his vigorous best,conducting the Vienna Philharmoniker.Partly traditional and modern staging. A screen against the wall shows the sea and various activities. The small square stage set in the center of the Huge stage, is used for some of the action. Surrounded by what looks like castle battlements. It is minamalist in its approach. The Costumes are of the period in which Otello is set. Aleksandrs Antonenko, a young dramatic tenor is fine, but no Domingo as yet, but that will come in the future. Desdemona is Marina Poplavskaya is a star in the making. I have the Don Carlo conducted by Pappano,conducting the Royal opera House orchestra. Marina is Elizabeth of Valois. That is why I obtained this Otello. The Traditionalist will love the staging of that opera. Jago is Carlos Alvarez being subtly evil. The rest of the cast are good. It is a blessing to have Otello and Desdemonia looking so youthful as the composer would have wanted.

Rest assured with this opera, the traditional stage merchants will not have a nervous breakdown if they watch this production. No gnashing of teeth and tearing of sack cloth, or mention of Euro trash. What ever that means. Something negative I suspect. I am fortunate that I like both kinds of staging, so I do not rant and rave when modern staging is even mentioned.Though when reading their comments it amuses me no end. More please. I suppose I am the way I am,because I am a opera fan, but like World music, rock, blues ,Jazz,new wave. Music is music, as long as it enlightens our spirit. Being an ex Sports Administrator, and ultra distance runner, running in events over 161 kms, now a senior distance racing cyclist, I have dealt with some tough customers in my time. Many of this lot writing reviews on Amazon Opera section appear ivory tower Merchants, compared to the straight talking sports people I have dealt with.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Otello Nov. 8 2012
By Ricardo Sada - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Excellent performances and recording. Nonetheless, the staging leaves a lot to be desired as it is simple (not really minimalist)and practical. The opening scene, with an impressive and powerful view of the sea storm , is all of a sudden reduced to a small screen thereby losing its initial appeal. High marks for Marina Poplavskaya!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
BluRay for better or for worse? April 6 2011
By Dankert - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I don't doubt that this is a very good performance. However, poor technical quality spoils the esthetic experience. Video could have been OK, but with the resolution of HD video, the sweating of the singers/actors become disturbing and take attention away from their artistic performances. Worse, however, is the quality of the sound. The orchestra dominates over the singing. Exaggerations in dynamics, that is, in the difference between pianissimo and fortissimo, makes it difficult to find the right volume level. The sound of the orchestra, however, is crisp and clear. The voices of the singers, on the other hand, are not done justice at all. They sound far away, behind, almost like behind a wall, with very poor treble. The sound mixing has failed, and one suspects use of low end microphones on stage. I tried to compensate by giving more weight to the center front speaker, compared to left and right speakers. It helped a little to hear the singers, but it did not improve pitch and timbre. If you have a low-end surround system you may tolerate the sound quality, but with a high-end system you will be greatly disappointed.


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