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Verdi: Alzira [Orchestra Hayden di Bolzano e Trento] 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)
  • Running Time: 117 minutes
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: C Major
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 29, 2013
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Performance
[Rating:2.5/5]
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:2.5/5]


Alzira is the least performed opera in all of the Verdi catalog. This production, unlike most in the Tutto Verdi series that are staged in Parma, comes from a 2012 concert version from the Alte Adige Festival in the Tyrolean village of Dobbiaco. For reasons that become obvious during the performance, Alzira is simply not up to the higher standards of the later Verdi works. Although composed only two years before Macbeth, there are light-years of difference between the breadth and depth of these two works.

Alzira is set in 16th century Peru after Spain has taken over the country. Spanish governor Alvaro (Francesco Facini) is about to be murdered by Peruvian Indians in the town square of Lima. He is saved by Zamoro (Ferdinand von Bothmer) an Inca who was tortured by Alvaro’s son Gusmano (Thomas Gazheli). When Zamoro discovers that his fiancée Alzira (Junko Saito) and her father Ataliba (Yasushi Hirano) are Spanish hostages, he vows to rescue them and wreak havoc on the invaders. Alvaro plans to turn over the governor’s office to Gusmano who claims to want peace and marriage to Alzira. Later Ataliba tries to convince his daughter to enter this union but she is in love with Zamoro who makes an unexpected appearance. Their happy reunion is suddenly interrupted by Gusmano who arrests  Zamoro and condemns him to death. When Alvaro tells his son that Zamoro saved his life, Gusmano frees him to join the Inca forces that are invading Lima. Zamoro is once again a prisoner of Gusmano who will spare him if Alzira agrees to marriage which she does.  Although the Incas have been defeated, Zamoro rallies them when he finds that wedding between Alzira and Gusmano is about to occur. Disguised as a Spanish soldier, Zamoro crashes the party and stabs Gusmano who, in dying forgives him and blesses his marriage to Alzira.

The cast, all of whom were new to this reviewer, has its ups and downs. The male principals are no better than adequate, particularly bass-baritone Gazheli, bass Hirano (who looks younger than his daughter), and tenor von Bothmer, with a somewhat woolly contribution from bass Facini. Here is the downer and it is a big one. Soprano Saito, while attractive enough in a formal gown, encounters one disaster after another with the bel canto material that this role contains. Her top end is often a shriek and legato lines are not well handled either. Musical direction of the smallish Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento and the Dobbiaco choral forces by Gustav Kuhn is competent.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The video direction by veteran Tiziano Mancini is outstanding with the cameras bringing dramatic energy to this is “semi-staged ” production. While there are staged movements by the singers, the chorus is confined in place. The more strenuous and violent scenes loose much of their power without sets.  Details are excellent and as is the color palette.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The Grand Hotel Centro Culturale has apparently great acoustics as the details of this score are well captured. The surround DTS-HD Master Audio version offers a bit more atmosphere than the two-channel version; both are quite good. As the orchestra is on stage but behind the singers, the sonic perspective favors the voices.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

C Major is to be thanked for its inclusion of the 10-minute background/synopsis feature that helps get newcomers into the core of this work. There are the usual trailers from other Tutto Verdi operas.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

This is the only BD version of this rare Verdi work and, given how infrequently it is performed, this is the one that we will have for the foreseeable future.  In view of this situation, I regret that the performance was not fully staged with sets and costumes so that we could have seen what Verdi saw in 1845. Even more regrettably, I wish that the casting had paid more attention to finding more artists that could negotiate the early Verdi style, a trait particularly lacking in the portrayal of the title role. That aside, Alzira has moments that shine with the Verdi genius, albeit tucked in among many moments that are rather formulaic. For Tutto Verdi enthusiasts mostly, but even with the significant reservations noted, some adventuresome opera fans might consider trying this one out.

Additional Screen Captures

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BestBuy.com:
Alzira (Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento) - Blu-ray Disc
Purchase Verdi: Alzira on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Performance
[Rating:2.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]


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