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Rossini: La Gazza Ladra [Rossini Opera Festival] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: Italian, English, French, German, Spanish
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Dynamic
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 28, 2012
  • List Price: $42.99

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B006K70A52[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B006K70A52[/amazon-product]

Purchase La Gazza Ladra on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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:3.5/5]

Sometimes the ability to crank out musical works at high speed is not necessarily a blessing. La Gazza Ladra, or The Thieving Magpie, falls about midway through the catalog of Giachino Rossini’s operas, following hard on the heels of such successes as Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and La Cenerentola. Those looking for a work of similar inspiration will be somewhat disappointed at the derivative nature of both score and libretto. This BD comes from a 2007 Rossini Opera Festival performance with a largely Italian cast, definitely a plus, supported by the Haydn Orchestra di Bolzano e Trento led by Lu Jia, a Chinese conductor with much experience in this repertory.  Staging is modern minimalist and the wardrobe is maybe a 20th century mishmash.

The plot involves two young lovers, Gianetto (tenor Dmitry Korchak) and Ninetta (soprano Mariola Cantarero) whose path to the altar is seriously detoured when Ninetta is accused of stealing a silver spoon from Gianetto’s parents, Fabrizio (Paolo Bordogna) and Lucia (Kleopatra Theologou). In actuality, the spoon belonged to Ninetta’s father, Fernando (same monogram as Fabrizio) whom she is protecting from the law.  Since the penalty for domestic theft is death, this bodes ill for Ninetta who is jailed.  The Mayor (Michele Pertusi) who has had designs on Ninetta will pardon her if she yields to him. Fernando tries to free his daughter but is also arrested and condemned to death. Before Ninetta is executed, two servants find the silver spoon in a magpie’s nest, and she is pardoned to the joy of all, except the Mayor.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The updating of La Gazza Ladra is not an impediment to enjoying this rather silly story. Minimal sets seem to be the order of the day and do not detract from this mostly a “stand and deliver” work. Mariola Cantarero should have asked the costumier to provide something other than a low-cut sleeveless dress in Act I which accentuates her rather generous figure. Fortunately, the wardrobe office responds with a shapeless sack dress in Act II. Otherwise, the wardrobes are decent. I particularly liked the evil Mayor’s “man in black” outfit. For a high-resolution disc, the detail seems a bit soft, the color palette reasonably good. There are some interesting special effects, like the rainstorm at the beginning of Act II, with real rain. Then there is the pesky acrobat who starts each act with a gratuitous Cirque du Soleil routine. Those tube props in both acts became somewhat annoying as well, having little if anything to do with the action on stage.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Given the recent provenance of this production, I was somewhat disappointed in the rather flat atmosphere-lacking audio. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is not much better than the Dolby Digital or the PCM 2.0 tracks. No matter, the singing is rather undistinguished with the exception of soprano Cantarero and baritone Pertusi. The remainder of the cast resemble comprimarios who just got their big moment on stage. While this performance is what one would probably hear in a provincial house like Pesaro, for the cost of a Blu-ray, I think the audience deserves better.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

Dynamic stiffs potential buyers here. Not even a trailer or cast gallery!

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

La Gazza Ladra might not be Rossini at his best but  still has some magic moments in each act. However, there is relatively little magic in this particular performance, and you have to wait until nearly the end for Cantarero’s rendition of the show piece aria, Ninetta’s prayer. This is not due to limitations of what is going on in the pit as maestro Jia has his forces cooking up a Rossini storm with excellent pacing and support for the singers. With the exceptions already noted, it is the cast that lets the proceedings down with its mostly routine vocalism. For those interested in this relatively rarely performed Rossini work, the current Blu-ray is the only high-resolution option, with nothing likely on the horizon. While taking this opera to a more contemporary setting does not sink the ship it does not overcome some less than stellar videography and sound recording. Recommended with reservations, and then, primarily for ardent Rossini-lovers.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B006K70A52[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B006K70A52[/amazon-product]

Purchase La Gazza Ladra on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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