This extraordinarily powerful 1983 production may be the best-sung performance by Luciano Pavarotti on DVD, but when acting values are counted in, Ingvar Wixell manages to outshine the tenor star. Verdi gave the Duke two of Italian opera's most brilliant arias ("Questa o quella" and "La donna e mobile"), but he gave the deformed jester Rigoletto a depth and complexity of character that is reflected in music of great variety and enormous emotional impact: the cruel mockery of the opening scene, the self-doubts inspired by his dialogue with Sparafucile, the paternal anxieties and final despair at his daughter's sad fate, and the burning, self-destructive thirst for revenge.
"One of the few films of its kind which really does distil and epitomise the essence of the man and his music." ~David Kidman
The Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini, which has been devoting itself to the research and performance of Pergolesi‘s music for years now, had his operas recorded live at the annual Music Festival in Jesi. Released on this BD are two productions from Jesi of one almost forgotten opera, Il prigionier superbo, and one of Pergolesi’s most popular works, La serva padrona, combined like they were at the original premiere.
This production of Anna Bolena faithfully meets the musical vision proposed by Fabio Biondi. The mise-en-scène, therefore, excludes any explicit reference to the plot’s historical time, and the events have been set at the beginning of the 1800s, when Donizetti’s opera was premièred.
The 2010 Jesi production is conscious of the complexity of Flaminio for all its seeming simplicity and cleverly exploits the suggestive milieu of the Teatro Valeria Moriconi, in particular its shape and relatively small scale. Without any attempt at realism, (the main action takes place “in a villa on the outskirts of the city of Naples, complete with hunting lodge, etc.”, but just a handful of props to symbolise the bucolic atmosphere), the production concentrates on establishing a kind of meta-theatrical relationship to this repertoire work which sets out to highlight the interweaving and overlayering of truth and fiction, passion and irony, tragedy and comedy.
The composition of Semiramide took approximately four months, which is an unusually long span for Rossini. The premiere took place on the 3rd of February of 1823. The opera’s libretto is based on Voltaire’s drama Sémiramis, written by the French philosopher and scholar in 1748. For some respects a conclusive work, Semiramide contains, like all masterpieces, traditional elements alongside innovative ones. Rossini accentuated the role of the orchestra, compared to his previous serious operas: the Sinfonia, the longest and most elaborate Rossini ever wrote, immediately suggests Rossini endeavoured to give the instrumental part a more important role yet than usual. At the same time, the bel canto dimension is probably more developed than in any other previous Rossinian serious opera.
The opera Platée by Jean Philippe Rameau is not just a comic opera but an opera in which the Gods of Olympus play a part. With his tragedies lyriques Jean Baptiste Lully had banned all comical characters from the opera, and musical comedies had become unfashionable. Thanks to works by André Campra and Jean-Joseph Mouret, however, the genre had not disappeared completely, and Rameau made his own contribution with Platée.