- 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
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Lord Byron’s drama, The Two Foscari, provided the basis for Verdi’s sixth opera, I Due Foscari, a study in political and personal intrigue. A baritone show piece, as were a number of Verdi’s later works like Rigoletto and Simon Boccagnegra, this opera exposes a family tragedy in 15th century Venice. Jacopo Foscari (Roberto De Biasio), son of the Doge Francesco (Leo Nucci) has been banished from Venice for an alleged murder. He returns for further investigation by the Council of Ten, one of whose members, Loredano (Roberto Tagliavini) believes the Foscaris guilty of murdering his father and uncle. Temporarily relieved at seeing his wife Lucrezia (Tatiana Serjan), Jacopo cannot be protected by his father from the Council’s verdict. In jail, Jacopo awaits his trial and sentencing. Not only is he exiled again, but Lucrezia and their children are not allowed to accompany him. Jacopo has boarded the ship that will take him away, and somewhat later, the Doge learns of a deathbed confession that exonerates his son. This is to no avail as Jacopo has died of a broken heart. The Council has decided that Francesco should step down as Doge, and as the cathedral bells signal his successor, Francesco dies. The sins of the father and son have been repaid.
This is a 2009 production for Il Teatro Regio di Parma in their Tutto Verdi series that will have staged the entire Verdi operatic catalog by 2013. Maestro Donato Renzetti leads a very sympathetic performance and receives excellent vocal contributions from the principals of this cast. Audio and video recording is also very well done.
The videography does justice to the singers and staging with very realistic reproduction of the singers and staging. While the latter is on the sparse side with few props on the set, the period costumes are attractive and the Doge’s wardrobe is appropriately regal.
As is true of all of Verdi’s works, there are numerous great vocal opportunities in this score. The DTS-HD Master Audio is very atmospheric and gives the voices great presence. The PCM track is also quite good.
The Tutto Verdi series features a 10-minute featurette with each opera that gives viewers both compositional background and synopsis. There are trailers for some of the other operas in this series.
The Definitive Word
This rare early Verdi work contains a wealth of great vocal material in each act. Verdi excelled in using intimate family dramas as the basis of many of his works, and I Due Foscari is a prime example of this genre. It is mostly a very dark opera and this may have led to its lesser popularity among the Verdi catalog. This production emphasizes the dark nature of this work with its stark sets and stage shadows. Conversely, the singing is bright and often brilliant, particularly from tenor De Biasio and soprano Serjan. The centerpiece role, that of elderly Doge Francesco, is delivered with conviction by baritone Nucci, 67 years old at the time of this performance. Production values on both audio and video side are excellent and the lush period costumes more than compensate for the sparse sets. This is the opera’s BD premiere and I cannot think of a better way to introduce new viewers to this largely unknown work.
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