Notes and Editorial Reviews
Running Time: 630 minutes
Region Code: ALL
Picture Format: NTSC
Starring: Ronald Pickup, Carla Fracci, Giuseppina Strepponi
Filmed on location in Italy, Leningrad, London and Paris, this epic mini-series took several years to create. This uncut version dubbed in English is 4 hours longer than the edited version that originally aired on television to great acclaim. This film is filled with Verdi's music, sung in the original Italian and taken from past recordings featuring such operatic legends as Renata Tebaldi, Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti and Birgit Nilsson.
"Sumptuously costumed and splendidly staged, this elaborate cinematic biography
blends documentary and drama to tell the story of a great artistic genius who became the musical voice of a nation. Ronald Pickup plays the title role, with Carla Fracci as Giuseppina Strepponi, Verdi's wife and friend. Supporting them is a parade of colorful personalities who thronged Verdi's life. The biographical events are played out against the tumultuous background of Italy's struggle for unity and independence, a cause to which Verdi dedicated his art. Across the flow of action washes the bright glitter of Verdi's music, artfully woven into the fabric of the program, and sung by the leading voices of contemporary stage. The result is a beautiful production, visually elegant in its effects, sonically marvelous, and wholly satisfying. Firmly based on scholarly research, it emerges as an extravaganza of operatic dimensions, a celebration of a musical genius and his lyric legacy. For entertainment of scholarship, the program should not be missed." -- Booklist.
"As is usual with Italian epics, whether made for television or the movie screen, the production is sumptuous, no doubt going way over budget and bringing looks of pain but familiar shrugs of understanding to RAI executives. The usual extraordinary statistics are bandied about: 100 actors, 18,000 extras, 4,000 costumes, filming on locations ranging from Milan and Venice to Leningrad and London. Scenes at La Scala, as it was in the 19th century, are positively magnificent...
Mr. Castellani can get a touch hokey, as when we are shown books magically opening and closing by themselves while the narrator gives us another dollop of biography. But, in general, he has done a masterly job in finding connections between Verdi's life and his work. And he has assembled an unusual and interesting cast. Verdi is played superbly by Ronald Pickup, a fine British actor. And Giuseppina Strepponi, the singer who will become his companion and eventually his wife for five decades, is portrayed by Carla Fracci, the ballerina making her acting debut with lovely distinction. These are only a couple of the many special surprises to be found in this splendid production."
-- John J. O'Connor, New York Times [10/24/1983]
Works on This Recording
Work(s) by Giuseppe Verdi
Renata Tebaldi (Soprano),
Maria Callas (Soprano),
Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor),
Birgit Nilsson (Soprano)
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