- 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: September 25, 2012
- List Price: $39.95
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In Parma’s Teatro Regio’s quest to stage the entire catalog of Giuseppe Verdi’s by 2013 (the composer’s bicentennial), we get a 2007 production of his first work, Oberto (Conte di Bonafacio). This unfamiliar piece bears some background information. The setting is 13th century Italy and before the curtain rises, Oberto,defeated by Ezzelino da Romano, leader of Salinguerra clan, has returned home. Riccardo, Count of Salinguerra is to wed Cuniza (Ezzelino’s sister). However, Riccardo has seduced Leonora (Oberto’s daughter) who is intent on interfering with the marriage. At the beginning of the actual opera, wedding preparations are underway. However, once Oberto (Giovanni Battista Parodi) and Leonora (Francesca Sassu) are reunited and her situation is explained, they conspire to obstruct the planned nuptials. In Ezzelino’s palace, the setting for the marriage. Cuniza (Mariana Pentcheva) tells Riccardo (Fabio Sartori) about her concerns for their wellbeing. These fears are realized when Leonora confronts her with Riccardo’s betrayal. Cuniza agrees to help Leonora and her father who is also in the palace. There is a confrontation between the principals and Oberto challenges Riccardo to a duel.She then hides Oberto in a nearby room and invites Riccardo and his guests to join her. Upon entering, Cuniza reveals Leonora’s presence and accuses her lover of infidelity. Riccardo’s accusations against Leonora prompt her father to enter and challenge Riccardo to a duel. Efforts to avert this fight are futile and Oberto is killed. Riccardo goes into self-imposed exile while Leonora vows to become a hermit as the opera ends.
The featured singers, with the exception of bass Parodi, were unfamiliar to me but deliver the florid vocalism essential to Verdi’s desired effects. I was particularly impressed with soprano Sassu (only 23 years old at the time of this performance!). Maestro Antonello Allemandi paces the proceeding well and gives an honest account of this early Verdi masterpiece.
Given the subject matter portrayed, director/designer Pier’Alli goes for a rather dark set and muted brown and black period costumes. Camera work covers the smallish stage quite effectively. In spite of efforts by the make up crew, young bass Parodi does not appear quite old enough to be Leonora’s father. Plenty of close ups are distributed among the attractive cast whom the director places in frequent stand-and-deliver poses with hands to their heads.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is well balanced with excellent coverage of the voices and what sounds like a reduced orchestra in the pit. Stage perspectives are also quite good. The 2-channel alternative is decent if nothing special. There is modest ambience in either version.
This Tutto Verdi series features a very useful introduction to the background of the opera, using scenes from the current production. It should be required viewing for most who will be seeing this work for the first time.
The Definitive Word
This is a BD premiere and, for the most part, delivers the goods as well as we are likely to get in the modern era. The young cast features some very promising voices and we get idiomatic singing from the principals. For Verdi fans, and there are many of you out there, Oberto will represent a real discovery showing how the maestro began to develop his unique voice beginning with the bel canto style. It contains plenty of big solos, choruses, and the driving pulse that become Verdi’s trademark. A recommended watch that provides a very enjoyable two hours in Parma.
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