Il Trovatore by Verdi
The Met Orchestra and Chorus
with Marcelo Alvarez, Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick and Dimitri Hvorostovsky
Here's a critique from Amazon:
"My relationship with Il Trovatore goes way back to the Bjoerling, Milanov monaural LP. With the advent of the DVD, I had hoped for a performance that would do justice to this exceptional work but was very disappointed with the Cura, Villaroel version, where the staging was awful and the tenor was too. The Domingo, Kabaivanska disc was an exceptional performance conducted by von Karajan, but the picture and sound suffered simply because of the age of the original taping. But the opera gods have blessed me exceptionally well with this incredibly well done performance.
Not only is this performance musically near perfect (with the exception of using the usual cuts, although Leonora's last act cabaletta is performed) but the staging is wonderful, with singers who can act as well as sing. I think it was Caruso who noted that a good Trovatore requires four world class singers at the top of their game, and the pricipals here are exactly that.
Trovatore, of course, is blamed for having a confusing, lame plot; after all, what other opera has been parodied by Gilbert & Sullivan AND the Marx Brothers? But as William Berger notes in his splendid book, "Verdi with a Vengeance", modern news routinely features far more gruesome events in real life than those contained in the plot. As for the singers ...
In Sondra Radvanovsky we have the Verdi soprano that many have hoped for since the days of Leontyne Price. From top to bottom and all places in between, she has the perfect voice and superb vocal technique. And Boy!! can she act!! Just sample the convent scene, where Manrico, whom she believes to be dead reappears alive and well. THAT is what opera is all about!!
Hvorostovsky is simply the best Count di Luna since Leonard Warren, IMHO. The voice is huge, but capable of surprising delicacy in the softer passages. His rendition if Il Balen is superb!
Alvarez is similarly exceptional here. I have seen him in other operas where his acting is less than more. but David McVicar got a terrific performance from him, although he is a bit frenetic at times. Vocally, he is quite good, but I get the sense that there are parts where the role seems a bit heavy for his spinto voice and there he sounds forced.
Dolora Zajick has sung a lot of Azucenas in her career, but there's no letup in the intensity of her performance. Vocally and dramatically, she's the real deal!
Marco Armeliato is splendid in the pit. I have followed his career since the 2008 Baden Baden concert on DVD and remain impressed by him. While he moves this energetic work at tempo, there are times when he slows a bit to bring out both the emotion in the score and the rich interpretations of his singers.
Disc quality is perfect; picture and sound are all that I have come to expect from DGG. Subtitles are in the usual languages, plus one oriental one designated by (to me) an undeciferable sign. Extras are limited to the usual insipid cast interviews that the Met cannot seem to get past.
I cannot imagine a better performed Il Trovatore than this one. While cheaper deals are available, you can buy and enjoy.
No disappointments here!!"
Well, well. Now give this clip a listen and buzz on over to the Sr. Center on the 16th to enjoy the whole production with us all.