For those who don't like updatings, they will love the 1975 production with Beverly Sills. For those like me who doesn't mind them given if they're done well, they will love this. Just for the record, of the productions I have seen of Donizetti's opera, these are the two performances I recommend the most.
The costumes are great, and the sets too, true there is a lot of black and grey but it fits with the realism, power and brutality of the opera I feel. The lighting especially in the final act reflects the mood of each scene perfectly, the sound and picture quality are of great clarity and the video directing courtesy of Brian Large as interesting and as clever as ever.
And for anybody who loves special features, they will be delighted in the very interesting behind-the-scenes feature. With Gruberova's performance for me this is the best part of the DVD.
Staging is fine, updating the action yes but also maintaining the feel of the story without falling into gimmicks or distracting drama that has eluded some updated performances(ie. 2005's Don Carlos).
The orchestra play with power, pathos and style, the conducting is commanding and the chorus do much more than your stand-there-and-sing type of chorus. They are involved, interact well with their surroundings and each other and their singing is wonderful.
Roberto Devereux(2005) is blessed with uniformly good performances. Thankfully the secondary characters are not sidelined, the opera treats them every bit as important as the leads. Jeanne Pilland has a full voice and is very touching as Sara. Albert Schagidulin is superb, his voice has grit if occasionally throaty, but his acting is so exciting you actually believe he is the vengeful Nottingham.
Roberto Aronica is much more commanding in the title role than his 1975 counterpart. He displays some very musical singing, and isn't afraid to act either, no stolid acting in sight. Edita Gruberova however is the star, while she is not in her prime vocally there are several great moments especially her 10 second high D. As for her acting, I don't think I have seen Gruberova act so movingly, the final act especially is a tour-De-force as you see Elizabeth as a broken woman.
All in all, truly wonderful, Gruberova and the behind-the-scenes feature are the best assets about it. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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