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Giuseppe Verdi: Attila [Teatro Regio di Parma] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: LPCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: C Major
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 13, 2012
  • List Price: $39.95

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Performance
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Performance

[Rating:3/5]

Attila is the ninth of Giuseppe Verdi’s twenty-six operas and this 2010 Teatro Regio di Parma’s production continues its ten-year program to stage all of his works. Loosely based on the history of Attila the Hun, it opens with Attila (Giovanni Battista Parodi) in Aquileia, an Italian city that he has recently conquered. He encounters Odabella (Susanna Branchini) whose father was slain by the Hun forces and, impressed with her courage, gives her his sword. The defeated Roman general Ezio (Sebastian Catana) urges Attlia to spare Rome but, of course, he refuses. Aquileian refugees led by Foresto (Roberto De Biasio), Odabella’s lover, are regrouping in the lagoons, to found a new city. Later, Attila has advanced on Rome, and Foresto and Odabella are reunited in his camp. She tells Foresto of her plans to murder Attila. In his dreams, Attila has a disturbing vision of an old man. When Pope Leo arrives from Rome to seek peace, Attila recognizes him as the old man in his dream and falls, awe-struck, to the ground  In the Roman camp, Ezio learns of the peace treaty and arranges a banquet to celebrate this event. Foresto arrives in disguise but his attempt to poison Attila is thwarted by Odabella. Attila, in response to her act, offers Odabella marriage and pardons Foresto. At the opera’s conclusion,  the Roman troops are poised to attack the Huns in their encampment. Odabella has escaped from Attila and joins Ezio and Foresto. Attila arrives, only to be attacked by the Romans, and receive a fatal wound from Odabella who has now avenged her father.

This opera is not often performed outside of Italy and the cast will be more familiar to European than to American audiences.  Vocally, this is a mixed bag with strong performances by baritone Catana and tenor De Biasio. Soprano Branchini is quite exotic looking but her voice is vibrato-ridden and becomes harsh under stress. Ultimately, Attila rises or falls on the portrayal of the title character. Bass-baritone Parodi gives us an unexceptionable but rather one-dimensional hero, when greater complexity is required to convey Attila’s inner conflicts. Musical direction by 23 year-old conductor phenom Andrea Battistoni is well paced and kind to the singers.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The costumes are period-consistent, although the period is not exactly 5th century A.D!  The lighting casts “green goblin” effects on the faces of many of the principals who are already heavily made up. Attila is given a painted mask, inspired, as it seems, by the heavy metal group, Kiss. Pierfrancesco Maestrini’s staging actually reduces the size of the stage as compared to the other productions I have seen in this house. However, this opera needs big space and the busy projection screen behind the singers tries hard to create this illusion with uneven results.  Details are decent and camera work is generally effective in support the flow of the action. I was often bothered by the considerable amount of shadowing over the singers’ faces.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The recording is well balanced between stage and orchestra pit.  The surround sound track has modest ambience while the two-channel yields less presence and depth.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

The Tutto Verdi series gives a 10-minute introduction to each of its operas, with shots from the actual production.  As with previous entries, I would recommend that viewers watch this first since it makes the plot far more understandable, a definite plus when there are so many back- stories involved. We also get the usual C Major trailers.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]


This production of Attila can be recommended only with a number of caveats. With a less than profound rendition of the title role, a soprano who is below the mark for this repertory, and some strange staging and lighting decisions, this Attila will not rest easily on many an opera fan’s eyes or ears. Tenor De Biasio turns in a commendable Foresto, but the real gem here is the Ezio of baritone Catana, a singer that I would want to hear again. The waters are further muddied by the availability of a La Scala DVD (Opus Arte), directed by Ricardo Muti and starring Samuel Ramey who gives us an Attila for the ages.  If you must have a BD recording of this opera than this is the only show in town. Given its noted shortcomings, it is not one that I will regularly revisit.

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Performance
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]


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