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Verdi;Giuseppe Una Ballo in Ma [Import]

Chiara Taigi , Eun Yee You , Don Kent    NR (Not Rated)   DVD

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mostly Good 'Ballo' Nearly Sunk by Silly Costuming June 22 2006
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This film conflated from two live performances of 'Un Ballo in Maschera' comes from the Leipzig Opera and thus the marvelous Gewandhaus Orchestra is in the pit and the conductor is their new music director Riccardo Chailly, conducting his first-ever 'Ballo.' The singers are all unknown to me but I'll wager that we'll be hearing about Massimiliano Pisapia (Riccardo) and possibly also Chiara Taigi (Amelia) in the not too distant future. The rest of the cast is mostly Italian and that lends a certain stylistic unity to the production.

Taigi is a good-looking woman who has the spinto quality to sing Amelia. She has a voice that reminds me of Montserrat Caballé, particularly in her chest register. The voice rides easily over ensembles, but it is in her solos that she truly shines. 'Ma dall'arido stelo divulsa' and the following duet with Riccardo is thrilling and ultimately heartbreaking. Unfortunately as the opera continues on to Act III some signs of fatigue show up in her voice. Massimiliano Pisapia has a baritonal tenor that commands attention and which he controls with skill without losing any of the excitement of raw passion. 'Forse la soglia attinse' is wonderful. Unfortunately he is distractingly overweight. Franco Vassallo, the Renato, looks good but the voice doesn't quite have the heft a good Verdi baritone requires. He looks the part and is a fine actor. 'Eri tu' is moving, though. Ulrica is sung by Anna Maria Chiuri. She is a very good actress and I'll admit that she spooked me out, as a good Ulrica should. Her costume makes her look like a porcupine! The voice is a heavy mezzo rather than a true contralto and handled nicely. Eun Yee You is charming Oscar with a bigger than usual coloratura soprano. 'Saper vorrete' is delicious. The conspirators Samuel and Tom are sung and acted nicely by Tuomas Pursio and Metodie Bujor. The big discovery for me in this cast is the tenor, Pisapia, who has the makings of a world-class opera star. Taigi could also make her mark on the larger opera world, particularly if the fatigability evident here is overcome.

But the mise en scène, while not outré, is troubling. Actually the sets by Arnaldo Pomodoro themselves are inobtrusive, even minimal, for the most part. But the costumes! Most of them are huge, made of bulky material (some of it even looks quilted). The women have what look like breastplates (this is not Wagner, after all!) that made me recall the bullet bras Madonna wore years ago; what is the point of that? Certainly not historical accuracy; this is the colonial Boston version of the opera. The size of the costumes reminded me of the behavior of birds in the wild who, when threatened, puff out their feathers to make them look larger. I guess Pomodoro wanted us to be able to pick the singers out from the scenery, but in such an ugly fashion? In the masked ball scene some of the characters had stylized ruffs, I guess they were, that reminded me of those collars vets put on dogs who have had abdominal surgery, the kind that keep them from being able to lick their surgical incision. Oy! Amelia's costume in the second act is a shiny ball gown mostly hidden by a huge globular cloak made of electric blue tulle that gives her the look, forgive me, of a huge neon amoeba. It was a relief when Riccardo gave her his dun (but very heavy) cloak to disguise her when her husband Renato comes on the scene -- at least the electric blue was hidden.

Stage direction is by film director Ermanno Olmi ('The Tree of Wooden Clogs') and seems neither particularly imaginative nor obtrusive.

With DVDs out there with the likes of Pavarotti or Domingo as Riccardo, Millo or Ricciarelli as Amelia, and Nucci or Cappucilli as Renato, this version would have to be a second or third choice. Sound is good, videography is fine.

Scott Morrison
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars De acuerdo July 5 2006
By E. Alban Gomez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Estoy totalmente de acuerdo con Scott Morrison sobre esta versión de Un ballo in maschera. Musicalmente me parece de muy buen nivel; la escenografía es discreta; pero no logro entender cuál ha sido el propósito de vestir a los personajes con el vestuario estrafalario que lucen.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall, a strong production May 17 2011
By M. Myers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The musical quality of this production is quite good, and the voices, even in the supporting roles, sound fresh and appealing. Their acting is likewise better than you usually see. Eun Yee You as Oscar and Tuomas Pursio and Metodie Bujor as the conspirators were particularly good.

My only real complaint is the distractingly arbitrary costumes. Ulrica's, for example, appeared to consist mainly of brown netting and foam-rubber antlers, making her look exactly like a giant cockleburr. At the masked ball, the otherwise very lively Oscar seemed to be dressed as something like a human pincushion, stuck full of huge foam-rubber nails. Maybe this was intended as a comment on the two characters' respective sociability (Ulrica exuding hostility, Oscar absorbing it), but that's a strained interpretation; it's really anyone's guess. Most of the masquerade costumes appeared merely abstract and uninteresting. The titular masked ball is an opportunity for designers to present the audience with a visual banquet, but in this case it was wasted.

The visuals didn't spoil the overall production, though, which is worth seeing though perhaps a better rental than purchase.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime!! Optimal performance,worthy of Verdi. Aug. 11 2013
By Janos Gardonyi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
NOTE: THIS REVIEW IS A REPRINT (with some modifications) OF SAME APPEARED IN THE WHOLENOTE MAGAZINE, WRITTEN BY MYSELF (JANOS GARDONYI)SEPT 2013 ISSUE AND IT IS UNDER THE MAGAZINE'S COPYRIGHT.

Looks like I am here first and I am happy not to be influenced by other belly-aching, jaundiced 'reviewers'.
This a wonderful performance, even better than Boccanegra. Conductor Gianluigi Gelmetti, an unlikely looking gentleman at first glance but at his first wave of the baton I felt he was a master. His upbeat tempi has a big sweep throughout that gives the opera the brilliance Verdi intended. Every bar has deep significance because he knows this opera and its complexities to a Tee. Karajan had it too in Vienna, in fact the Ballo was one of his favorite and a big challenge.
Stupendous singers. Francesco Meli as Riccardo is a young fresh voice, powerful and sensitive, thoroughly in empathy with the character.Vladimir Stoyanov is beginning to take over from Nucci. Again he is young and the voice is powerful, well shaded and his acting puts a menace into his Renato and at the same time we really feel his agony of being betrayed.Serena Gamberoni (Oscar) is a delight to behold. Far from the usual petite, cutesy soubrette coloratura: she is a stunning beauty, her voice brilliant and light as a feather, moves like a real opera star! Ms. Kirstin Lewis (Amelia)is a radiant soprano with power and secure in her top notes acting with passion. Elisabetta Fiorillo (Ulrica)
is an old timer who perhaps have seen her glory days, but here as an alto she makes a truly three dimensional portrayal
of the wise and not at all wicked soothsayer.
About the scenery: it's simply eye-popping and stunning, grandiose highly artistic architectural and even monumental creations, gorgeous coloring. Unsurpassed. Highly recommended. You won't be sorry.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The production saves the show. Nov. 6 2013
By Lois Rochetti - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Two reasons for a three star. One, the "Ulrica"of Elisabetta Fiorillo and the conducting of G. Gelmetti.
In Act One Gelmetti speeds up on "Volta la terra fronte" and "Ogni cura si doni al diletto" and in Act Two he ruins "O figlio d'Inghilterra" using the same speed as in Act One.
Fiorillo does not have the low notes for the role of Ulrica, something that Simionato and Barbieri had plenty of.
In order of vocal quality Vladimir Stoyanov, "Renato" is the best of the bunch, followed by Francesco Meli, "Riccardo", Serena Gamberoni, "Oscar" and Kristin Lewis "Amelia".
Act after act the production is beautifully convincing.

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