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Verdi;Giuseppe Otello [Import]

Jose Cura , Krassimira Stoyanova , Willy Decker    NR (Not Rated)   DVD

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling production of "Otello" Sept. 17 2007
By Toni Bernhard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This production left me feeling that the parts were greater than the whole. A great production of "Otello" has the feel of one long sustained piece of music, as opposed to the more typical operatic structure of spoken or sung recitative broken up by arias and ensemble pieces. When "Otello" is done right, I must remind myself to breath because, from the moment the orchestra begins Act I with the dissonant crashing chord that ushers in the storm scene, the action moves "as one" to the tragic end. This production, though, has a choppy feel, not quite doing justice to Verdi's innovative, flowing style. And yet the individual performances (the "parts") are so compelling, that it still rates a strong four stars.

And so, to the "parts." Jose Cura's voice is sometimes strained, but his acting and commitment to the role are captivating. (I have the same comment about his portrayal of Manrico in "Il Trovatore" on DVD.) If you want the best sung Otello, stick to the three DVD's with Placido Domingo. But Cura brings a fierceness and passion to the role that makes for a riveting performance.

I had never heard of Krassimira Stoyanova who plays Desdemona. Although Act I is almost over before we hear her sing (in the sublime love duet "Gia nella notte densa") she is well worth waiting for. Her soprano voice flows with lyric beauty, yet is strong enough to carry the ensemble near the end of Act III when the great concertato follows Otello cruelly throwing her to the ground. Stoyanova's Act IV "Willow Song" and "Ave Maria" are as heartbreaking as they ought to be. You will be moved by her entire performance.

Lado Ataneli possesses a wonderfully full and burnished baritone voice. Iago can be interpreted in different ways. Ataneli chooses to focus on the personal rather than on the political; he convincingly portrays Iago as Otello's false friend and confidante, thus making Iago's actions all the more chilling and deplorable.

If you're looking to purchase only one "Otello" on DVD, I would recommend one of the three productions starring Domingo; my favorite is The Met from 1995 with Renee Fleming as Desdemona and James Morris as Iago. (I've written a separate Amazon review of that production which compares it to the other two DVD's of Domingo in the title role.) Domingo's interpretation of Otello is profound; he explores every nuance of this brave but ultimately pathetic warrior. But this Liceu production from Barcelona is well-worth owning and is sufficiently different in concept, stage design, and performances from the three Domingo DVD's that you won't feel you have a duplicate of this great opera in your collection.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cura scores a triumph at the Liceu Feb. 14 2007
By Robert Petersen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Another Willy Decker show..........again, I am not phased by the minimalistic production, especially after watching the short documentary that form part of the bonus features. Like the 2005 Salzburg Traviata, this Liceu Otello will have its die-hard fans and its critics. As far as I am concerned, the 3 principals are in top form, with Cura providing one of his strongest interpretations in recent years. Vocally, he has a few dry spots, however, his acting and intense portrayl make this a production to treasure. A triumph all round! However, I think that this opera could have been fitted onto a single disc, as the bonus features are not that substantial.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A SUPERB PERFORMANCE OF OTELLO IN EVERY WAY May 6 2007
By RONALD CORK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
FIRSTLY I MUST CONFESS TO NOT BEING A GREAT FAN OF JOSE CURA, HOWEVER THIS LIVE PRODUCTION OF VERDI'S MASTERPIECE HAS CONVERTED ME. I ALWAYS THOUGHT MARIO DEL MONACO WAS THE GREATEST OTELLO FOLLOWED BY PLACIDO DOMINGO HOWEVER JOSE CURA IS NOW IN THIS SAME LEVEL OF EXCELLENCE. HE SINGS LIKE A MAN POSSESSED AND IS GIVEN FINE SUPPORT BY HIS DESDEMONA KRASSINIRA STOYANOVA AND JAGO LADO ATANELI. THIS LIVE RECORDING FROM THE GRAN TEATRE DEL LICEU IN BARCELONA IS OUTSTANDING AND OPTUS ARTE ARE TO CONGRATULATED IN THE FINE PRESENTATION OF THIS TWO DVD SET - DON'T BE PUT OFF BY NOT RECOGNISING THE NAMES OF THE SOPRANO AND BARITONE AS THEY ARE IN THE SAME LEAGUE OF A VERY YOUNG RENTATA TEBALDI AND ETTORE BASTIANINI AND I FEEL IF BOTH CONTINUE IN THIS LEAVE OF EXCELLENCE THEY WILL SOON BE HOUSEHOLD NAMES.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very fine alternative to Muti at Salzburg July 11 2012
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This is a particularly powerful production and performance of one of Verdi's last operatic masterpieces. In this work Verdi finally left the recitative and aria form of composition such is found in earlier works such as La Traviata, and adopted a compositional style where the music becomes more continuous and with more integration between the orchestra with the vocal line. This approach would be more in line with the contemporary work of Puccini and Wagner for example.

The stage director of this production, Willy Decker, has favoured a minimalist approach to the staging. The intention is to focus the attention on the 3 main characters of Otello, Jago and Desdemona, thus heightening the drama of the opera. This he certainly achieves but for this approach to work in performance, the drama must also be carried by singers who can not only sing their demanding parts accurately, but who are also capable of highly skilled acting at the same time. A video production, with inevitable close focus, makes these acting requirements imperative and a completely different experience to a CD audio only production for example.

The three main characters in this production rise superbly to the challenges. Jose Cura, as Otello, delivers as intensity of acting which would be outstanding in a stage play of Othello. To this he adds wonderfully accurate and emotionally responsive singing. This combination is very special. Lado Araneli is evil personified and a powerful match for Cura both as a singer and as an actor. Krassimira Stoyanova makes a fine Desdemona of internal strength which makes her eventual and inevitable persecution and final death even more moving than is often the case.

The supporting roles are all well portrayed yet inevitably overshadowed by both the main roles and their relative lack of spotlighting within this production concept. The chorus also fulfil their roles as well as can be expected.

The orchestra play with verve and great drama under the expert conducting of Antoni Ros-Marba. The bonus features are limited to an introduction and illustrated synopsis.

The actual recording offers sharp imaging even in subdued lighting with full colour rendition. The sound is presented in wide ranging PCM 5.0 and stereo and is thrillingly `present'.

For me personally, I found this to be a remarkably fine production, performance and presentation. I would therefore expect this disc to provide considerable satisfaction for most purchasers. It seems to me that in these circumstances 5 stars is a fair and reasonable assessment. There is an equally fine option available with Muti conducting at Salzburg. Choice between these two will be more a matter of personal preference rather than of contrasting quality.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very fine alternative to Muti at Salzburg July 11 2012
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
This is a particularly powerful production and performance of one of Verdi's last operatic masterpieces. In this work Verdi finally left the recitative and aria form of composition such is found in earlier works such as La Traviata, and adopted a compositional style where the music becomes more continuous and with more integration between the orchestra with the vocal line. This approach would be more in line with the contemporary work of Puccini and Wagner for example.

The stage director of this production, Willy Decker, has favoured a minimalist approach to the staging. The intention is to focus the attention on the 3 main characters of Otello, Jago and Desdemona, thus heightening the drama of the opera. This he certainly achieves but for this approach to work in performance, the drama must also be carried by singers who can not only sing their demanding parts accurately, but who are also capable of highly skilled acting at the same time. A video production, with inevitable close focus, makes these acting requirements imperative and a completely different experience to a CD audio only production for example.

The three main characters in this production rise superbly to the challenges. Jose Cura, as Otello, delivers as intensity of acting which would be outstanding in a stage play of Othello. To this he adds wonderfully accurate and emotionally responsive singing. This combination is very special. Lado Araneli is evil personified and a powerful match for Cura both as a singer and as an actor. Krassimira Stoyanova makes a fine Desdemona of internal strength which makes her eventual and inevitable persecution and final death even more moving than is often the case.

The supporting roles are all well portrayed yet inevitably overshadowed by both the main roles and their relative lack of spotlighting within this production concept. The chorus also fulfil their roles as well as can be expected.

The orchestra play with verve and great drama under the expert conducting of Antoni Ros-Marba. The bonus features are limited to an introduction and illustrated synopsis.

The actual recording offers sharp imaging even in subdued lighting with full colour rendition. The sound is presented in wide ranging PCM 5.0 and stereo and is thrillingly `present'.

For me personally, I found this to be a remarkably fine production, performance and presentation. I would therefore expect this disc to provide considerable satisfaction for most purchasers. It seems to me that in these circumstances 5 stars is a fair and reasonable assessment. There is an equally fine option available with Muti conducting at Salzburg. Choice between these two will be more a matter of personal preference rather than of contrasting quality.

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