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Verdi: Rigoletto / Viotti, Machado, Mula, Nucci

Verdi / Roubaud / Orch & Ballet Of Arena Di Verona
Release Date: 11/17/2009 
Label:  Arthaus Musik   Catalog #: 107096  
Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Aquiles MachadoMario LuperiSarah M'PungaLeo Nucci,   ... 
Conductor:  Marcello Viotti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verona Teatro Arena OrchestraVerona Teatro Arena Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

VERDI Rigoletto Marcello Viotti, cond; Aquiles Machado ( Duca ); Leo Nucci ( Rigoletto ); Inva Mula ( Gilda ); Mario Luperi ( Sparafucile ); Sarah M’punga ( Maddalena ); Giuseppe Riva ( Monterone ); Andrea Piccinni ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Marullo ); O & Ch Arena di Verona ARTHAUS 107096 (DVD: 134:00)

As I pointed out in a previous review of this opera in Fanfare 32:3, Rigoletto has long been one of my favorite operas, and in my collection I have now more than 70 recordings on tape, LP, CD, and DVD. In this opera the genius of Verdi is aptly demonstrated in his understanding of human nature, and his ability to create believable characters and to completely avoid creating stereotypes. Rigoletto is a sarcastic jester but is capable of expressing tender love for his daughter. Therefore the baritone who sings the role must be capable of coloring his voice, using a sarcastic tone for when he is the jester, but he also has to have a soft, tender tone in the duet with Gilda, and a vicious tone expressing his anger at the Duke. Although the Duke is a womanizer, Verdi gives him the aria “Parmi veder le lagrime,” in which he expresses some real feeling for Gilda, although it is only temporary. Sparafucile, who is an assassin, is a man of honor, and when his sister asks him to kill Rigoletto rather than the Duke, he refuses and tells her he is not a bandit but a man of his word.

This is the third recording of this opera on DVD starring Leo Nucci as Rigoletto. The earliest dates from 1987, and features the great tenor Alfredo Kraus and Lucianna Serra as Gilda. The performance is very good, but as the notes say, “the filming was done only to preserve the performance.” The picture is dark and offers few close-ups and is not good at all. The other DVD, which I do not have, dates from 2006 and was reviewed in Fanfare 32:5 by Barry Brenesal and also by Andrew Quint. As Brenesal wrote, “At the upper end of the scale was Nucci, who has sung the title role more than 400 times. Musically, at 65 Nucci no longer has the tonal resonance he formerly had, and the breath control for long phrasing is gone.” Brenesal does not recommend that recording, while Quint does. The present performance from 2001 finds Nucci in better voice, and he is an experienced actor who portrays the role excellently. Inva Mula is a visually beautiful Gilda and is vocally very good. Aquiles Machado is a good Duke, but not in the class of great tenors who have recorded the role. Mario Luperi is visually a fine Sparafucile and sings well, as does Sarah M’punga as Maddalena.

Fortunately in the outdoor arena in Verona the production is traditional. Also the conductor, Marcello Viotti, is not one of those tyrants that Verdi hated. He allows Nucci and Mula to encore “Si vendetta,” as well as allowing Machado to encore “La donna è mobile.” The picture and sound quality are excellent.

I am familiar with four other versions of this opera available on DVD. The Metropolitan performance featuring Cornell MacNeil, Plácido Domingo, and Ileana Cotrubas was reviewed in Fanfare 28:3 by Raymond Tuttle. As Tuttle pointed out, MacNeil was past his prime, but the performance is a good one. Domingo is excellent, as is Levine’s conducting. The earliest performance available on DVD, on the Bongiovanni label, is a film from 1956 with an all-star cast: Titto Gobbi as Rigoletto, Lina Pagliughi as the voice of Gilda (acted by Marcella Gavoni), Mario Fillippeschi as the Duke, and the great Giulio Neri as Sparafucile. The conductor is Tulio Serafin. I also have the miserable, rotten staging of this opera that is an insult to Verdi by David McVicar, who should be banned from staging opera. This vulgar production is an example of the depths to which opera production has fallen at the once great Royal Opera House at Covent Garden. It belongs in the garbage can.

On the other hand, this Verona production is far superior and is highly recommended.



Giuseppe Verdi

Il Duca di Mantova - Aquiles Machado
Rigoletto - Leo Nucci
Gilda - Inva Mula
Sparafucile - Mario Luperi
Maddalena - Sarah M'Punga
Giovanna - Milena Josipovic
Il Conte di Monterone – Giuseppe Riva
Marullo – Andrea Piccinni
Borsa – Giovanni Floris
Il Conte di Ceprano – Angelo Nardinocchi
La Contessa di Ceprano –Alessandra Canettieri
Usciere di corte – Tino Nava
Paggio della Duchessa – Loredana Bigi

Ballet, Chorus and Orchestra of Arena of Verona
Marcello Viotti, conductor

Charles Roubaud, stage director
Katia Duflot, costume design
Fabrice Kebour, lighting
Alphonse Poulin, choreographer

Recorded at the Arena di Verona, July 2001

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, German , French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese
Running time: 134 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)
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Works on This Recording

Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Aquiles Machado (Tenor), Mario Luperi (Bass), Sarah M'Punga (Mezzo Soprano),
Leo Nucci (Baritone), Giuseppe Riva (Bass), Inva Mula (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marcello Viotti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verona Teatro Arena Orchestra,  Verona Teatro Arena Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Italy 

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