Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) MosŤ in Egitto - opera in three acts
Ruggero Raimondi - MosŤ; Isabelle Kabatu - Sinaide; Bogdan Mihai - Elisero;
Filippo Polinelli - Faraone; Luciano Ganci - Amenofi; Giovanni Sebastiano
Sala - Aufide; Christian Stainieri - Osiride; Maria Cioppi - Maria;
Lydia Tamburrino - Anaide
Orchestra and Choir Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano/Francesco
Subtitles: Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Korean, Japanese,
Booklet: English, German, French
Disc Format: DVD 9
Picture: NTSC, 16:9
Audio: PCM Stereo, PCM 5.1
Bonus Material: A documentary revealing the secrets of Milan Cathedral
Subtitles Bonus: Italian, English
Region Code: 0 (worldwide) C MAJOR DVD 735308 [80:00 + bonus: 22:00]
There are several versions of Rossini’s opera MosŤ: the Italian original, MosŤ in Egitto, first performed in Naples in 1818 and revised the following year, when he introduced Moses' prayer-aria "Dal tuo stellato soglio"; an 1827 version for Paris, MoÔse et Pharaon, set to a French libretto with much additional music, including the obligatory ballet; and a re-translation of the latter into Italian.
For the present production, an “abridged” version of the Italian re-translation is used. Perhaps “heavily cut” is a more apt description: at 80 minutes, this is less than half the length of a complete MoÔse et Pharaon. The programme notes assert that it is “abridged to focus more on the main thrust of the story – Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt – and less on the interwoven tale of the thwarted love of the Egyptian prince Amenofi for Moses’s niece Anaide.”
To compound the problem with the heavy cuts, the singing is not of the best. Of the cast, I am only familiar with Ruggero Raimondi. He was 74 years old when this performance took place, and he sounds his age. He sounds tired and the lower range simply doesn’t have enough power or projection to be heard clearly. Lydia Tamburrino, singing Anaida, has such a wide and slow vibrato that it is more of a wobble and sounds distinctly out-of-style with Rossini’s music. Out of the vocal leads, the tenors – Bogdan Mihai as Elisero and Luciano Ganci as Amenofi – are the most impressive.
The performance took place not at an opera house, but in Milan Cathedral. Instead of stage sets, images projected onto the columns of the Cathedral nave and onto a gauze at the transept by the main altar depict the background of the action. The result is quite impressive.
The bonus feature, a 22-minute documentary on Milan Cathedral, is a bigger disappointment than the opera production itself. The first half of the documentary, on the construction history of the cathedral, is narrated in Italian. The narrator speaks extremely slowly, which is annoying. Perhaps he was trying to speak slowly enough that the translation could be made on the trot? The second half of the documentary features video footage of the cathedral accompanied by the playing of a string quartet. The choice of music is very poor – it is 300 years too late and doesn’t complement the splendour of the architecture.
Basically, for the price of this DVD, you get half an opera, not very well-sung, accompanied by a poorly-made documentary. MosŤ has not been well-served on DVD, and afraid this latest release has not helped. Stick with the CD recordings for now and hope for a better DVD in the future.
Wai Kit Leung
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