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Verdi: I Lombardi Alla Prima Crociata / Callegari, Theodossiou, De Biasio, Pertusi

Release Date: 10/30/2012 
Label:  C Major   Catalog #: 720608  
Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Valdis JansonsGregory BonfattiRoberto TagliaviniDimitra Theodossiou,   ... 
Conductor:  Daniele Callegari
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parma Teatro Regio OrchestraParma Teatro Regio Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 2 Hours 34 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Also available on Blu-ray

The foremost voices in Verdi interpretation today have gathered in the historic Teatro Regiotoday have gathered in the historic Teatro Regio di Parma to present I Lombardi, for the uninitiated a hidden treasure nestled in Verdi's vast catalogue. For the first time Blu-ray video and audio unite to bring this gem to sparkling new heights of picture and sound.

Giuseppe Verdi

Arvino – Roberto de Biasio
Pagano – Michele Pertusi
Viclinda – Cristina Giannelli
Giselda – Dimitra Theodossiou
Pirro – Roberto Tagliavini
Un priore – Gregory
Read more Bonfatti
Acciano – Valdis Jansons
Oronte – Francesco Meli
Sofia – Daniela Pini

Parma Teatro Regio Chorus and Orchestra
(chorus master: Martino Faggiani)
Daniele Callegari, conductor

Lamberto Puggelli, stage director
Paolo Bregni, set designer
Santuzza Calí, costume designer
Andrea Borelli, lighting designer

Recorded live from the Teatro Regio di Parma, 2009

- Introduction to I Lombardi alla prima crociata

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese
Running time: 144 mins (opera) + 10 mins (bonus)
No. of DVDs: 1

R E V I E W: 3644100.az_VERDI_I_Lombardi_Daniele.html

VERDI I Lombardi alla prima crociata Daniele Callegari, cond; Dimitra Theodossiou ( Giselda ); Francesco Meli ( Oronte ); Roberto de Biasio ( Arvino ); Michele Pertusi ( Pagano ); Teatro Regio di Parma O & Ch UNITEL CLASSICA 720608 (DVD: 154:00 Text and Translation) Live: Teatro Regio, Parma 1/2009

It takes some courage to produce this opera, whose title translates as “The Lombards at the first Crusade,” in these times of tensions between the worlds of Islam and those of Western religions. Portraying the Crusaders as heroes in their defeat of the infidel Muslims, and depicting with glory their taking of Jerusalem, could easily result in a fatwa being called down upon an impresario’s head. There is no doubt that I winced uneasily at moments during I Lombardi.

However, the element of religious war really serves as a backdrop to stories of love gone wrong, and to Verdi’s interest in character exploration. Verdi shows here, in only his fourth opera, an already highly developed talent for drawing strong character differences with the music he creates for each. He also shows here his strong melodic gift, and his imagination. For its time, I Lombardi is daring in the scope of its choral writing. Indeed, the chorus is a fifth principal in the opera. And then there is that remarkable trio at the end of the third act, with a concertante violin solo and a little orchestral prelude at its beginning. This is very innovative writing. So despite some basic dramatic silliness (all the key characters wind up at the same place, whether they have gone there to do battle or have been exiled; Giselda inexplicably is in love with the leader of the infidels, who at his death converts to Christianity for her!), the sweep and inspiration of Verdi’s music carries the listener/viewer along.

I am only aware of one other video, a 1984 La Scala production with José Carreras in one of the two lead tenor roles (Oronte). He is in great voice, but he is not enough to save the performance from the squally Ghena Dimitrova, thin-voiced Carlo Bini, and wooden singing of bass Silvano Carroli. Parma, on the other hand, assembled a first-rate cast, and conductor Callegari has both the moment-to-moment details and the long line in perfect balance. His ability to keep things moving, while lingering when lingering is needed, is one of the reasons for this performance’s success.

If one singer stands out in an excellent cast, it is Dimitra Theodossiou. The Greek soprano is onstage for much of the opera, and she dominates when she is. She reminds me, in her approach to this music, of Caballé, though she may lack the Spanish soprano’s remarkably distinct beauty of tone. Theodossiou floats glorious pianissimi , soars over the entire ensemble when required, sculpts long phrases naturally, and is deeply inside the character. Giselda may well be the opera world’s first anti-war activist, and we identify strongly with her horror at the mentality of the Crusaders. This is a truly triumphant performance, and marks the arrival of a major Verdi soprano for our time.

The remainder of the cast is very good, if not quite as outstanding as Theodossiou. One difficulty in casting I Lombardi is the need for two good tenors. Complicating things is the fact that the one with the smaller role gets the good aria! In Meli and De Biasio, Parma has found two good ones. Meli has the lighter color, de Biasio a bit more tonal richness. But both sing beautifully, using the full range of dynamics available to them, and both have strong top notes produced without strain. Michele Pertusi has a dual role—that of Pagano (Arvino’s brother) and then disguised as a hermit (who undergoes a dramatically absurd transformation from a vicious murderer to a man of peace). He starts off with a touch of tonal unsteadiness in his first scenes, but quickly warms up and gives a performance of great distinction. These three men, two tenors and a bass, share the load fairly equally, and it is a great strength of this performance that they are all very good.

The stage production is extremely traditional—no “Eurotrash” here. We get simple backdrops that create the illusion of location (a castle, a cave, Jerusalem) and very elaborate and effective period costumes. There is no attempt, thank Heaven, to bring contemporary relevance to the opera by updating it into the current Mid-East cauldron. I don’t know if anyone was tempted, but we must all be grateful that they avoided that trap. This is probably I Lombardi as Verdi and his librettist, Solera, imagined it—although I doubt that they imagined a performance any better.

Special kudos to the unnamed concertmaster who plays the solo in the third act gorgeously. Tiziano Mancini’s direction for the camera would have benefited from a bit more patience. His camera shots jump from one to another too often—particularly during Giselda’s solos. He should have trusted the music to hold us. But this is only a minor annoyance in what is overall a DVD that any opera lover will want.

FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

I lombardi by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Valdis Jansons (Baritone), Gregory Bonfatti (Tenor), Roberto Tagliavini (Bass),
Dimitra Theodossiou (Soprano), Roberto De Biasio (Tenor), Michele Pertusi (Bass),
Cristina Giannelli (Soprano), Francesco Meli (Tenor), Daniela Pini (Soprano)
Conductor:  Daniele Callegari
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parma Teatro Regio Orchestra,  Parma Teatro Regio Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Italy 

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