Thursday, April 17, 2014
By: Renato Castellani
If you already know everything about Verdi and his operas, check out Berlin Concert* instead. If not, you'll certainly enjoy this 4 disc set dramatizing the life and musical evolution of probably the world's most beloved opera composer. I already knew I loved the great Rigoletto, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, but what I didn't realize was the beauty of his lesser known works. I found myself checking out the library's many holdings: Simon Boccanegra, Luisa Miller, Nabucco, Un Ballo en Mascara; ones I had heard of but didn't know anything about. The choruses and, in particular, the male arias, were glorious. I was thrilled for 2 weeks, immersed in il maestro.
Yes, the dramatization is a bit corny and the dialogue stilted, but it puts Verdi in his historical framework and traces the germination and fruition of the music. You meet his librettists, his family life, his conductors, his friends and benefactors, as well as the Italian populace who adored him, making Giuseppe wealthy and successful in his lifetime.
*Berlin Concert is a wonderful filming of a live Placido Domingo et al. concert in Berlin's cavernous Waldbühne stadium. Placido aside (as if you could put him aside), the real star is Ronaldo Villazón, a young Mexican tenor, now a French citizen. His voice is stupendous, his face wonderfully expressive, and he brings the house down. This is an hour of pure ecstasy for the opera aficcionado.