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Giuseppe Verdi: I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata [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: October 30, 2012
  • List Price: $39.95

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
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:4/5]

I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata (The Lombards on the First Crusade) was Verdi’s fourth opera and further strengthened his position as Italy’s preeminent operatic composer. The 2009 production, directed by Lamberto Puggelli, continues Il Teatro Regio di Parma’s Tutto Verdi program, eventually staging all of Verdi’s works by his bicentennial in 2013. Many of Verdi’s operas had very complex plots and I Lombardi is no exception. Returning from a long exile after his failed attempt at fratricide, Pagano (Michele Pertusi) loves Viclinda (Christina Giannelli), the wife of his brother Arvino (Roberto De Biasio). Arvino is readying his forces for the first crusade. Pagano attempts to murder Arvino again but inadvertently kills their father. Arvino’s daughter Giselda (Dimitra Theodossiu) prevents Arvino from retaliating. The crusade is in progress and Giselda has been captured by Acciano of Antioch (Jansons Valdis). She is saved by Acciano’s son Oronte (Francesco Meli) who agrees to convert to Christianity.  Arvino has joined the Lombardo army only to hear from Sofia, Acciano’s wife (Daniela Pini) that the crusaders have massacred Acciano and Oronte. Giselda, horrified by this news, turns on her father but Sofia prevents him from killing her. In Arvino’s camp, Giselda finds a disguised Oronte who is severely wounded. They decide to escape but Arvino discovers their flight and attempts pursuit. Oronte is converted by Pagano, now disguised as a hermit, and then dies. At the opera’s end,  Giselda, near Jerusalem, dreams of the victorious Crusaders. A miraculous spring of water appears to the soldiers who proceed to take Jerusalem from the Saracens. Pagano has been wounded in the fighting and reveals himself to Arvino who finally pardons him.

This is a very well prepared production with some terrific singing by the principals. Orchestral direction by maestro Danielle Callegari is first-rate. The best-known piece, the Act IV Crusader chorus “O Signore, del tetto natio,” is a marvel of choral writing and takes pride of place with some of the best Verdi choral works but do not miss the “Gerusalem! Gerusalem!” that opens Act III.  Another highlight is the solo violin in the prelude to the final scene of Act III (if only Verdi would have written a complete violin concerto); a thing of beauty to be sure.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]


Costumes are period-specific and the sets if rather stark convey an adequate sense of place. The best make up job, beyond doubt, is Pagano’s transformation from nobelman to hermit, complete with bald head and eyepatch.  An obvious visual miscalculation is the failure to make soprano Pini old enough to be tenor Meli’s mother. Beyond this, there is excellent coverage of the stage along with dramatic face shots.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The sound recordists obviously know this house very well and present excellent pit-stage balance. The singers are given their best opportunity to shine here, and shine they do. Special recognition to the excellent chorus that is a star all by itself. The DTS-HD Master Audio version is preferable to the PCM 2-channel one.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

Besides the usual trailers, a distinguishing feature of  Tutto Verdi from Parma is the well done introduction, again most helpful for a work that is rarely performed outside of Italy.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Another BD premiere for the Tutto Verdi series and one that compels the viewers’ attention for its musical values and excellent casting. If the staging is a bit below the mark for some tastes, the singing is not, and all of the principals give terrific accounts of their parts. I had not heard Dimitra Theodossiu before but she seems to have picked up the vocal mantle of her Greek predecessors Callas and Souliotis and gets into her role like a second skin.  For this alone, I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata is a must-have. Fortunately, the rest of the cast is also superb, particularly bass Pertussi and tenor Meli.  Finally, there is so much gorgeous music in this score that it is hard to understand why it does not get more stage time. Once again, the Parma people have raised the bar very high for any future I Lombardi BDs.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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


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