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Verdi - Oberto

Oberto – Ildar Abdrazakov
Leonora – Evelyn Herlitzuis
Riccardo – Carlo Ventre
Cuniza – Marianne Cornetti
Imelda – Nuria Lorenzo

Musical Director – Yves Abel
Stage Director – Ignacio Garcia
Designer – Domenico Franchi
TV Director – Angel Luis Ramirez

Recorded at Palacio Euskalduna de Bilbao, January 2007

Opus Arte DVD OA 0982 D [152 minutes]

Here we have Verdi’s first opera, written at the age of 26, in the fashionable style set down by Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. There are plentiful rough edges, but already the traits that made Verdi such a great dramatic composer are showing through. In a plot with all the uncontrolled melodrama of its day we can still feel that Verdi’s characters are real people expressing genuine emotion, and it’s his gift for quick changes of mood, for example following a lustily militaristic chorus with a grieving lament, that is so effective with the juxtaposition emphasising each sentiment.

Designer Domenico Franchi has caught just the right feeling of gothic romanticism; simple medieval costumes, sets that mirror the landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich, roses which entwine the ruined pillars and which shower the cast with blood-red petals in the finale.

Leonora, sung dramatically by Evelyn Herlitzius, is a heroine clearly bent on self destruction. She storms her way through a tale of honour, betrayal, revenge and despair to one of the bloodiest of endings to be found on stage – though under the sensitive direction of Ignacio Garcia it never steps beyond the limits of romantic fiction.

Carlo Ventre’s Riccardo struggles to find the glamour of a dashing hero. Whilst singing with strength and sweetness, Marianne Cornetti’s charmless Cuniza is never going to get her man.

The real honours go to Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role, for a fine portrayal of Leonora’s noble father. His aria L’orror del tradimento is the most memorable singing of the evening.

Whilst this is an opera that was clearly never set for a permanent place in the repertoire, it deserves an airing, and this production serves it well.

Serena Fenwick

Verdi Oberto - another DVD

Pentcheva; Sartori; Parodi; Sassu
Cond: Allemandi
Staged: Pier'Alli

Filmed at 2 live performances in Teatro Verdi, Busseto, 2007

C major/Unitel 720104

- - a valuable document for any student of Verdi's work. His first operatic effort, it already shows a sure hand in shaping musical architecture and a keen melodic sense - - The picture is clear though the production tends to darkness. The sets are traditional which is a plus and they create the needed atmosphere. One does not have to suffer from wacky directorial ideas while trying to listen to the music - - Robert Baksa

An enjoyable account of Verdi's first opera from the new Tutti Verdi collection. That box set is an exciting prospect for those of us who have enjoyed Verdi's operas for a lifetime; my first was in the '40s, and latterly we were following the late Sir Edward Downes' near completion of the complete series at Covent Garden, before he lost his sight and had to stop. [See our review of his Stiffelio DVD from there]

There have been several recordings of Oberto, this 'cinderella' of Verdi's oeuvre, one of the most rarely performed of his operas . Perhaps that is now being remedied [the Bonus track provides all the statistics !].

This account from a small opera house gives what I'd think an authentic feeling of Verdi operas in the early days.

On the booklet Pier'Alli is attributed to having done nearly everything (except conducting, Antonello Allemandi) himself; but on screen you learn that he had plenty of assistants in every department, and some eight camera operators.

The singers make centre stage and stay there, often with darkened surround. There is some stylish still grouping for the beginning of scenes and a grand quartet in Act 2.

I found the navigation tricky on the Blu-ray version, because of miniscule lettering. The subtitles are fine once you get them, and there is an admirable ten minute Bonus introduction, plus an elegant libretto on line at http://www.librettidopera.it/oberto/oberto.html.

Peter Grahame Woolf


Pictured: Maria Pentcheva as Cuniza