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Semiramis (1980)

TV Movie  |   |  Music  |  2 November 1980 (France)
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Credited cast:
Francisco Araiza ...
Montserrat Caballé ...
Jean-Philippe Courtis ...
Le fantôme de Ninus
Marilyn Horne ...
Dimitri Kavrakos ...
Samuel Ramey ...


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2 November 1980 (France)  »

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Four great singers in top form
6 November 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Semiramide, one of Rossini's longest operas(William Tell I think is the longest overall), is not my favourite of his(I'm more into his comedies like Barbiere and Cenerentola),having not the most believable of stories, but it has gorgeous music and any Rossini is worth hearing or watching at least once. I do consider the Met production and this one from 1980 extremely good performances of the opera. In terms of costumes and sets I prefer the Met's, more opulence. The costumes and sets are very simple in comparison here, and lack vibrancy, some of the wigs and make-up I didn't care for as well. The staging did have some compelling moments, especially with Arsace and Assur but there are a lot of moments where it feels rather remote. Musically however the production is superb. The orchestra play beautifully, the chorus blend with each other very well and make an effort to react to the drama and Jesus Lopez Cobos keeps things briskly but is very musical about it at the same time. All four principals are on top form. In the title role, Montserrat Caballe gives one of her better performances of the 80s. Her voice is still big and striking in its beauty and shows flexibility and her trademark pianissimo singing. She does show some involvement in her acting, while perhaps not quite "living" the role. Marilyn Horne is a Rossini specialist, and it is easy here to see why in her impeccable passage work, runs and ornamentations. Her voice is in even better shape than the Met performance, even more clear and firm here. Her rapport with Caballe is excellent, almost on the same level as that with Sutherland. Samuel Ramey is every bit as superb as Assur, he makes a handsome- not too much though- imposing figure and has a very sumptuous voice with a good range. His Mad scene in Act 2 is a tour-De-force, very like it was at the Met. Francisco Araiza has given better performances as Ramiro(La Cenerentola), Belmonte(Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail) and Ferrando(Cosi Fan Tutte) and he has never been the most commanding of actors but his voice is still charming with beauty of tone and full of agility. So in conclusion, a good production with the leads in top form. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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