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Lalo: Le Roy d'Ys on DVD

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Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
I'm watching this now, barely got to half of the running time (108 minutes) but I'm sure I have formed my opinion already, which is unlikely to change even though the most famous number from this opera is still to came in the last act (Vainemant, ma bien aimée).

First, technically: mostly, impecable product, with linear PCM stereo track or Dolby Surround and excellent sound engineering and balance by Dynamic's proprietary method ODS, subtitles in five languages, insert with text in four languages including an essay on the composer and the opera, and the synopsis. Very sharp image on 16:9 format.

This is a live composite recording over three nights in April of 2008, at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie, with their chorus and orchestra, conducted by Patrick Davin.

The very, very, very pretty Giuseppina Piunti (it's her on the cover picture but that picture doesn't even start doing her beauty any justice) sings the role of Margared. Guylaine Girard is Rozenn, Eric Martin-Bonnet is the king (title role, but with very little stage time), Sébastien Guèze is the leading tenor singing Mylio (young and good looking, ladies!) while Werner Van Mechelen is the evil baritone Karnac (it's him on the cover). Léonard Graus is Saint Corentin (we have a walking talking statue here, folks, like in Don Giovanni), and Marc Tissons completes the cast in the minor role of Jahel.

OK, so, the good points are the technical quality of the product, and the beauty of the leading soprano.

And that's about it, folks. Everything else goes downhill from this point on.

First of all, Giuseppina is spectacular-looking, but can't sing, not even for her life if need be. She can yell, though, and she spends the entire opera yelling really loud.

So do all the others, almost. It's a yelling festival. The one guy who refrains from the terrible yelling is the baritone, and while he's nothing to write home about, he earns the best singing in this production, since he doesn't yell. And he gets to kiss Giuseppina's neck and squeeze her boobs, so, he got the best part, no doubt.

Oh, OK, I just got to the part with the statue, a bass, and he doesn't yell either. Too bad he's got only a few lines. When we listen to him, we almost remember that this is supposed to be an opera.

The other female is less good looking (nice boobs, though), and almost as bad as Giuseppina in terms of singing. The young tenor is appalingly bad. You gotta see it to believe it, folks! Another yeller, and worse of all, he yells off-pitch.

The acting couldn't be more stiff and artificial. OK, so Giuseppina can't sing *and* can't act. Not good. Not even her looks will save her in my appreciation or lack thereof.

The staging is quite ridiculous. Where on Earth have they found those costumes? Gee, the enemy soldiers look like overgrown lobsters, and the locals are only a little bit less ridiculous with their shiny green outfits. And why go through the trouble of making the King look silly with his artificially bald head on the top and long hair on the bottom? What were they thinking?

Musically: mediocre chorus, mediocre orchestra. Oh well, to make it worse, the gorgeous aria Vainemant, ma bien aimée has just started, and God, it was murdered by this youngster. He should be ashamed. And think that this was recorded over three nights, so this may have been his best effort of the three nights. I wonder how horrible he was in the other two.

Now the opera itself: it's kind of a lost opportunity because the libretto is not terrible, the story has potential (a love triangle, the two princesses love the same guy (Mylio), he picks one (Rozenn - the one who in this production is not as good looking, stupid boy, LOL), the other (Margared) allies herself with the kingdom's enemy Karnac for revenge, and opens a dam to flood the city and kill everybody; then repents, throws herself into the raising waters, and the Deus Ex-Machina (the walking/talking statue of the saint) saves the people. Not bad. But musically, It's hard to say since I had never heard it before (except for the most famous tenor aria which is a common concert piece), so it may be that the terrible singers and the mediocre orchestra are just spoiling it for me, but I don't think so. It does sound pretty lame in terms of orchestration and vocal writing, with just a few exceptions.

So here is the bottom line:

Get some pictures of Giuseppina Piunti from Google Images, and forget about this DVD.

Not recommended.

PS - Now I've finished it, and I have to report that the staging got even worse at the end. First of all, unlike the libretto says, the statue doesn't appear in the final scene. Second, we don't get to see Giuseppina jumping to her death, she only runs through a catwalk. But worst of it, they did manage to get an impressive effect of the overflowing dam using liquid nitrogen, but then, when everybody is singing "the waters are still raising" they lower the waters some 2 or 3 minutes before they were supposed to do it (before her sacrifice and the saint's intervention to lower the waters). This may win the cake for the most ridiculous operatic staging I've seen - you know, it's not Regie, they did try a straightforward traditional staging, it's just because of these laughable mistakes (the costumes, the waters receding too soon... and again, they recorded this over three days, go figure, didn't anybody tell the stage director that the waters were receding ahead of time?!?!).

Oh well, the curtain calls show Giuseppina looking lovely with a big smile, and when she bows we can see a generous dose of her breasts. There is salvation for this DVD after all, during the last few seconds.