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Verdi: Rigoletto / Levine, Domingo, Cotrubas, Met Opera

Verdi / Domingo / Atherton / Mooc / Levine
Release Date: 08/10/2004 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 000269609  
Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Justino DiazCornell MacNeilPlacido DomingoIleana Cotrubas,   ... 
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera ChorusMetropolitan Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

CAST LIST
Duke of Mantua PLÁCIDO DOMINGO
Borsa JAMES ATHERTON
Countess Ceprano LORETTA DI FRANCO
Rigoletto CORNELL MACNEIL
Marullo ROBERT GOODLOE
Count Ceprano PHILIP BOOTH
Monterone VERN SHINALL
Sparafucile JUSTINO DÍAZ
Gilda ILEANA COTRUBAS
Giovanna ARIEL BYBEE
Page ALMA JEAN SMITH
Chief Guard PETER SLIKER
Maddalena ISOLA JONES
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus
JAMES LEVINE
Production: John Dexter
Set and Costume Designer: Tanya Moiseiwitsch

• Superb picture quality
• PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
• Modern screen design & navigation
• Additional
Read more content & bonus material: picture gallery, DVD trailer, DVD catalogue section, web link
• Subtitles in German, English, French, Spanish, Chinese
• Menu in English
• Region Code: 0

R E V I E W S

It is hard to fathom that more than a quarter-century has passed since this production was aired—it seems like only yesterday, as the cliché goes. Still, the calendar doesn’t lie, and neither do the faces of Domingo, Levine, and others, who look almost impossibly young here. At the time, this was a new production of Rigoletto for the Met. Levine, who was the company’s artistic director, and General Manager Joseph Volpe were taking a look at the basic repertoire and trying to freshen it up with new but intrinsically conservative productions. Scenically and dramatically, there’s nothing shocking about this Rigoletto. The unifying theme is a dilapidated tower in the center of the set. Serving to define part of the Duke’s palace, and the dwellings of Rigoletto and Sparafucile, it represents (as Levine tells us in an interview) the corruption of the aristocracy. So far, so good. The costuming and other scenic elements are traditional but not dull or unimaginative. (The last act’s thunderstorm is not at all effective, however.)

But we’re here for the singers, right? MacNeil had been singing in Rigoletto since the late 1950s, and by 1977, there was nothing that he didn’t know about acting and singing the title role. However, by this late date he was having difficulties with pitch, and some of his singing is either sharp or uncomfortably flat. It doesn’t ruin the performance, but neither can one ignore it. As Gilda, Cotrubas eschews coloratura twittering. Like Maria Callas, she brings an intensity to this role as she moves from the naiveté of the first act to the disappointment and self-sacrifice of the last. In a role he claims to dislike (and indeed, he has sung it only infrequently), Domingo turns on both the ardor and the charm. The tenor dislikes the Duke for his superficiality, but really, it is difficult to dislike Domingo’s Duke. If that is a fault, then so be it. Tenors who can sing “Possente amor mi chiama” without sounding in extremis are more than hard to come by. Although Díaz is not an optimally black-voiced and sinister Sparafucile, Isola Jones as his sister is convincingly sexy, and her singing is luscious. John Cheek’s Monterone has unmistakable authority and nobility.

Thankfully, James Levine opens up the traditional cuts in Verdi’s score. Also, he does not equate speed with excitement, and so “Sì, vendetta” doesn’t turn into the customary train wreck. This is a thoughtful reading—Levine at his best.

As a bonus feature, there are short interviews with Cotrubas, Levine, Domingo, and MacNeil. These appear to have been the original intermission segments. Only Cotrubas appears in costume, and she is touchingly nervous throughout. The interviewer for the other three segments is the late Tony Randall, who also looks frighteningly young. The picture format is 4:3; the discreet subtitles are at the bottom of the screen. Visually, the production comes off well, except for transient difficulties with focusing. Sound formats are DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and PCM Stereo. I listened with the last of the three, and found the sound quite acceptable.

Raymond Tuttle, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Justino Diaz (Bass), Cornell MacNeil (Baritone), Placido Domingo (Tenor),
Ileana Cotrubas (Soprano), Isola Jones (Soprano)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Italy 

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