The Wikipedia entry for Carmine Gallone says that he was considered one of Italian cinema's top early directors, directing over 120 films in his fifty year career between 1913 and 1963.
Judging by this sole example I have seen of his work (made in 1938), he hadn't made much progress since 1913. Static camera work, flabby dialogue, plot cooked up on the back of a postage stamp, editing done by a hibernating sloth, indifferent lighting, opera stars who couldn't act their way out of a paper bag in front of a camera, let alone on stage; I could go on and on ripping this paper-thin film to shreds, but it gets depressing after a very short while.
Gigli and Cebotari may have been great singers, but they get upstaged by the furniture. There are plenty of operatic excerpts, but they are even more boringly acted and shot than the main film.
There is, however, one great moment when Gigli sings the Mozart duet "La ci darem il mano" with his young son aged about 5; the roles are reversed with Gigli taking the soprano role, wearing a headscarf and singing falsetto. This apparently unscripted 30 seconds of film is genuinely hilarious (for opera buffs at least) but the rest is really appalling.
2 out of 10.
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