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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Riccardo Muti conducts a fine cast in the powerful and atmospheric 1991 production of Verdi’s ninth opera, whose story of the heroic tussle between Ezio, a Roman general, and Attila, the Nordic invader was written for the 1846 Teatro la Fenice season and premiered there to huge acclaim.
Sung in Italian with English subtitles
Attila - Samuel Ramey | Ezio - Giorgio Zancanaro | Odabella - Cheryl Studer | Foresto - Kaludi Kaludov | Uldino - Ernesto Gavazzi | Leone - Mario Luperi
Part ten of this mid-price collection, this DVD includes a 24 page booklet with libretto by Temistocle Solera and Francesco Maria Piave after the play Attila, König der Hunnen (Attila, King of the Huns) by Zacharias
ALL REGIONS | Running time: 118 mins | Subtitles: GB | |Picture format: 4:3 | Sound format: Dolby Stereo
R E V I E W S
"...it’s Attila for the big bravos. Spectacular and pacy, it fills the stage with barbarians, gives them good tunes to sing and places them in a busy world where every moment may bring a reversal of fortune. Moreover, the four leading characters are fired with passionate determination which in turn fires their magnificent voices. There is sure to be something to write home about after a good Attila. And this is a La Scala performance fully worthy of the great house and its best traditions. It is very much the kind of opera that thrives in Muti’s care. A hard, percussive energy plays off against long elegiac phrases, and the resulting tension, very Italian with its sense of personal suffering in the midst of great public events, permeates the whole performance."
In some ways the raison d’être for buying this DVD is to have yet another reminder of the blazing beauty of Cheryl Studer’s all too brief international career. The soprano burst onto the scene in her late twenties, and by the time she was 30 she was among the most in demand lyrico-spinto sopranos in the world. By the time she was 40, her career was in serious decline. She made her last commercial opera set, the Myung-Whun Chung Otello with Domingo for Deutsche Grammophon, in 1994, the year she turned 39, and the reports of her return to the Met in 2000 were not encouraging. Here she is in glorious form, the tone gleaming, the coloratura, with which the role of the Odabella abounds, is completely secure, and, as always, the dramatic intent is seemingly foremost in her singing. She looks, as she often did, far more matronly than the characters she played but, like the even larger Jessye Norman and Sharon Sweet, she brings such conviction to her acting that, after the initial shock, her appearance becomes entirely secondary to the character she is portraying. Studer is far from supplying the only vocal or dramatic thrill of this evening at La Scala. Attila was one of Ramey’s best roles, and it is good to have the visual captured along with his singing. He pours out oceans of glorious tone, and since the character does not require him to be much more than stern, his remarkable lack of sex appeal in either his singing or his acting is for once not a problem (Blitch in Susannah and Shadow in The Rake’s Progress were great parts for him, whereas both his Scarpia and Don Giovanni were pretty much still born). Attila is the only sympathetic character in this odd opera where the longest section is in fact the prologue to act I. Among the villains, the black-voiced Giorgio Zancanaro is nearly perfect as the traitorous Roman general Ezio. Foresto has to be one of Verdi’s least interesting tenor roles, but Kaludi Kaludov sings wonderfully. He is a stolid actor in addition to being short and round, something that may have contributed to his limited international career, but he is far finer than Neil Shicoff who took the part in Muti’s audio-only recording of the previous year. I have been less than generous about the two Riccardo Muti DVD’s that have come my way, so let me say right off that Muti is infinitely more gifted as a Verdi conductor than he is in either Mozart or Pergolesi. His sense of rhetoric and the basic sound of his orchestra suit 19th-century music (and later) so much better, as does his essential interpretive stance. Along with Lamberto Gardelli, Muti has recorded more Verdi operas than anyone else and the experience shows. With a better cast than that for his studio set, Muti is also a more exciting conductor live, so this is the most recommendable performance of Attila currently in the catalog.
The camera work is workman-like, except for a couple of moments where the camera shifts between soloist and chorus are unintentionally funny. The sound has some odd drop offs in level but is otherwise fine. As always with this source, there are reasonable notes and the complete libretto in Italian. Subtitles in several languages.
John Story, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Attila by Giuseppe Verdi
Ernesto Gavazzi (Tenor),
Giorgio Zancanaro (Baritone),
Samuel Ramey (Bass),
Cheryl Studer (Soprano),
Kaludi Kaludov (Tenor),
Mario Luperi (Bass)
Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,
Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Written: 1846; Italy
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
La Scala Excellence August 13, 2013
By Robert Elden (New York, NY) See All My Reviews
"Maestro Muti and his excellent La Scala musicians lead an equally excellent group of singers in a well conceived production that is sure not to disappoint anyone wishing to hear/see this rich mid-early Verdi opera. It is a winner on every level!"