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Zandonai: Francesca da Rimini / Levine, Domingo, Scotto, Metropolitan Opera

Zandonai / Domingo / Scotto / Mooc / Levine
Release Date: 09/11/2007 
Label:  Philips   Catalog #: 000956609  
Composer:  Riccardo Zandonai
Performer:  Renata ScottoCornell MacNeilPlacido Domingo
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera ChorusMetropolitan Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

ZANDONAI Francesca da Rimini James Levine, cond; Renata Scotto ( Francesca ); Plácido Domingo ( Paolo ); Cornell MacNeil ( Gianciotto ); Nicole Lorange ( Samaritana ); Richard Fredricks ( Ostasio ); William Lewis ( Malatestino ); Metropolitan Op O, Ch, Read more & Ballet DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 00440 073 4313 (DVD: 150:00) Live: New York City 1984

For all the unevenness of its inspiration (and much of it is very fine), Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini combines expertly crafted music, a well designed libretto, a sumptuous setting, violence, and doomed lovers. It’s a good night’s entertainment, in other words, and in the Met’s 1984 revival, well worth the effort. Domingo is more youthful sounding than his years on stage should permit, with the addition of a subtlety that his earlier performances didn’t usually possess. Scotto’s voice had developed a serious wobble long before this production, but her tone is as round as ever, the manner perfect. Her voice yields many colors in this multifaceted role, and she tosses nothing away. MacNeil was over some lengthy vocal problems when he undertook the bestial part of Gianciotto, and he lacks for nothing in the way of vocal firmness or stage mastery.

Much credit is owed to the production team, whose efforts reinforce one another. In particular, Franca Squarciapino’s detailed costumes and Ezio Frigerio’s sets invite comparison in composition and color with the Pre-Raphaelites, and I don’t doubt that’s deliberate either. The use of stage volume is especially fine: the small square surrounded by black space that is Francesca’s bedchamber, for example, or the first views Paolo and Francesca have of one another through the iron grating that looks out to the back of Guido da Polenta’s main hall.

The original Pioneer release of this video remains available. Where it differs from this release is in the addition of DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 to Pioneer’s original stereo. I approach such changes with skepticism, but in this case, Deutsche Grammophon has done a fine job. There really is a sense of sonic distance with five speakers, though the cleanness to the sound you can find in this Francesca da Rimini was in the original release. While there are many operas where I don’t think this kind of spatial expansion would add much enjoyment, Zandonai was an excellent orchestrator who enjoyed both simple and opulent effects. Here, the remastering makes a difference.

The picture format is 4:3, so no anamorphic ratio. Subtitles are provided in English, French, German, Spanish, and Chinese. The only extras are 11 photographs from the 1916 Met Francesca production, but that’s still a lot more than most DVDs offer.

In brief, strongly recommended, for the opera, sound, production, and performances.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
STEREO: PCM / SURROUND: Dolby Digital 5.1 & DTS 5.1
Picture Format: 4:3 full screen
Subtitles: Italian/German/English/French/Spanish/Chinese
A production of Metropolitan Opera Association, Inc.

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Works on This Recording

Francesca da Rimini by Riccardo Zandonai
Performer:  Renata Scotto (Soprano), Cornell MacNeil (Baritone), Placido Domingo (Tenor)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; Turin, Italy 
Date of Recording: 1984 
Venue:  New York, New York 

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