Ernani was a Verdi opera I was introduced me only recently. And while not my favourite Verdi opera, it is wonderful, with great characters, a compelling story and above all the amazing music. When it comes to productions/filmed versions, I have only seen two, both of which were fantastic. One was the 1983 Met production with Luciano Pavarotti, Leona Mitchell, Ruggero Raimondi and Sherrill Milnes(the standout of that performance). The other is this, which is for me the better of the two but only just.
The lavish costumes and sumptuous sets are wonderful, and the camera work is equally impressive. The story is always compelling with seldom a dull moment, helped by the lively orchestra playing and conducting. And is always the case with Verdi, the music is superb, the standout like the 1983 production being the duet between Silva and Carlo which is spine-tingling.
This 1982 production of Ernani is also blessed with uniformly fantastic performances, singing and acting wise. One thing I prefer (only) just is Ernani himself. Pavarotti in the 1983 production does do a fine job, but Placido Domingo with his well-proportioned voice, handsome presence and looks and a capability of becoming the character with a strong heroism is brilliant in the title role. There is also Mirella Freni, and her interpretation is also one I preferred here. Her voice is absolutely beautiful and her arias with some hints of Donizetti show off her voice beautifully, also she is very musical and has a wonderful alluring personality. Nicolai Ghiaurov I also admire for his noble, firm voice and he is excellent as the most splendidly-drawn character of the opera. Like in the 1983 production, the performance of Carlo particularly stands out and here he is superbly played by Renato Bruson, throughout he shows a powerful stage presence and a rich velvety voice.
All in all, an operatic jewel. If you want a production with fine singing, production design and music, Ernani is for you. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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