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62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Teatro di San Carlo specialty
Roberto Devereux is considered by some authorities the finest of Donizetti's tragic operas (I think that's a bit of a stretch - there is still Lucia, with more imaginative melodic invention). This is a very fine performance from the Teatro di San Carlo , where it was first staged in 1837 and first revived (with the Turkish diva Leyla Gencer - available on Opera Doro)...
Published on August 2, 2000 by Noam Eitan

versus
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great production, cast, despite vocal problems of Pendatchanska
In terms of production splendor, this one is indeed,

spectacular. The most sumptuous sets and costumes are to be

found on this Image Entertainment release of Roberto

Devereux, which originates from the San Carlo Theater in

Naples (there's no performance date listed anywhere on the

box or even in the program; the...
Published on September 8, 2006 by Niel Rishoi


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62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Teatro di San Carlo specialty, August 2, 2000
By 
Noam Eitan (Brooklyn, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Donizetti - Roberto Devereux (DVD)
Roberto Devereux is considered by some authorities the finest of Donizetti's tragic operas (I think that's a bit of a stretch - there is still Lucia, with more imaginative melodic invention). This is a very fine performance from the Teatro di San Carlo , where it was first staged in 1837 and first revived (with the Turkish diva Leyla Gencer - available on Opera Doro) in 1964.
This may be a dress rehearsal since the auditorium is half empty (the premiere was on May 28 1998). Even though it means that there is less give and take with a responsive audience, the singers seem to benefit from the less oppressive presence of the Neapolitan operatic mob. There are no signs of anxiety, everyone warms up to their roles from the first note. Everyone, including the conductor and orchestra are in top shape and give their very best. (Old European opera houses are infested with gangs of homicidal tradition keepers: if a singer as much as misses one note, the conductor stops the performance, conducts a hasty requiem mass and the wretched singer is dispatched to his creator with a short, sharp shock, from a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block. These frequent executions are part of an East European conspiracy to take over the opera houses of Europe, since they sustain the need for a constant supply of fresh talent from the east bloc).
The camera crew takes advantage of the higher freedom of movement with sweeping movements that cover the orchestra pit (and occasionally the stage) almost side to side, with a very dynamic effect. This is the best camera work I've seen in any "live" opera production on a DVD so far (although it's not unusual on rock/pop videos). The picture quality is excellent, with vivid colors and well defined picture. The 5.1 Dolby surround sound is the best audio so far on any opera DVD: very focused, with a pleasing feel of "air" around the voices, that carries this hollowed auditorium's sonic signature.
Bulgarian soprano Alexandrina Pendatchanska won the 1990 UNISA international singing competition in South Africa. She is Ghena Dimitrova's student and protégée, who is reported to have said on Bulgarian television that her student has a truly remarkable talent. A talent indeed she is. In the lyrical passages she has that young girl sound of the old Italian school - light, agile and plaintive. When she digs the spurs in the voice becomes strong and full, almost metallic and quite thrilling. Her superb Elisabetta is musically and dramatically almost overwhelming. She tears into the final scene with ferocity and real pathos. Her voice is expressing both strength and vulnerability in every phrase and the queen's physical decadence is laid devastatingly bare - an unforgettable performance.
Giuseppe Sabbatini in the title role has a such a charismatic stage presence that it is little wonder that the queen almost loses her mind over him. His Devereux is the impetuous heart breaker as well as proudly aristocratic. He is a real artist and stylist and seems to be very well versed in 19th century stylistic practice. His medium-weight voice enables him to bring out the qualities of a bel canto tenor, as well as to project a more dramatic presence.
(The historic Devereux, the 2nd earl of Essex was executed after he tried to organize a revolt against Elisabeth - nothing to do with a love triangle. He constantly provoked her - she put up with his impudence for years because he was her cousin. But she gradually grew alarmed of his behavior, finding him to be "a nature not to be ruled." During one of their disputes, Essex turned his back upon the queen, who promptly slapped his face. He organized the revolt after she confined him to house arrest, following an unsuccessful campaign in Ireland.)
Italian lyric baritone Roberto Servile has a real personality and a wonderful voice. It is quite rare to hear such perfect diction and precise phrasing even from an Italian singer. I found his performance the most satisfying of this cast because of his unusual respect for the text, combined with his lyrical timbre and big voice that fills the auditorium with no hint of strain. His Duke is very convincing in his transformation from the loyal friend to the wronged, raging and vindictive husband. Hungarian soprano Ildikó Komlósi as his consort is more restrained than Pendatchanska in her singing and acting and thereby provides a musical-dramatic counterpoint. She sings Octavian on the Palermo Der Rosenkavalier DVD that is due to appear later this month.
The success of the performance owes much to the sensitive conducting of Alain Guingal that sustains and inspires the singers rather than drowning them.
The costumes and sets are gorgeous - all the elements of this production fit in perfectly and are very well thought out, from Komlósi's sad demeanor in the opening scene to the blazing red of Sabatini's costume.
Roberto Devereux is scheduled to open this season at the NYC Opera with Lauren Flanigan as Elisabetta.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fantastic Opera Performance, July 16, 2000
By 
This review is from: Donizetti - Roberto Devereux (DVD)
First the nit-picking: This is not the Sills performance that one reviewer properly raves about, and the performer is Robert Servile, baritone, not "Roberto Donizetti". This is is a performance by the San Carlo Carlo Theatre in Naples of one of Donizetti"s most memorable works. While the composer is best remembered for "Lucia di Lammermoor" and L'Elisir d'Amore", he composed many, many operas, some of which are wonderful, and some of which are less so. "Roberto" was composed in 1837, at a time when the composer lost both his wife and third child, but there is no sense of the morbid here. Rather, ther is a wealth of memorable and exciting melodies, one following another, from beginning to end. And it is a consistantly well-sung work as well. Wait until you experience the colaratura singing of Alexandrina Pendatchanska as Elizabeth I; she is simply stunning! And so is the rest of the cast, especially Giuseppe Sabatini in the vocally demanding title role. Maestro Guingal conducts this energetic score with appropriate verve, although with an open mouth, from time to time. Of course the DVD format continues to portray all of the visual aspects of musical theatre at their best, this time with stunning Dolby 5.1 sound, which matches the great staging of this work. Go for it, and be prepared for opera at its best! And discover just how great a talent Donizetti possessed. PS: many of his other works are available on CD from Opera Rara.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A historical moment of Bel Canto, September 18, 2002
By 
"lagunatitou" (Laguna Beach, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Donizetti - Roberto Devereux (DVD)
What an exceptional opera recording... I will mention quickly the solid orchestra, a very capable director, magnificent costumes, the beautifully though classically designed set and the efficient stage direction that allows singers to focus on their performance without giving the impression that they are lost on the stage...to focus on the amazing cast of singers.
Pendatchanska is superb in the appropriation of the role. the voice is wonderfully trained over its entire range. What amazes me is the way she colors it to express such violent and diverse emotions all along her performance. She incarnates Elisabeth and her conflicting torments, rage and despair by giving her voice an almost aggressive and edgy color which can even sound even disturbing for some 'over-sensitive' ears while managing to abide by all rules and standards of Bel Canto, by keeping her singing line composed and secure and her vibrato even throughout her vocal range...with truly amazing high notes... This being said, she really uses her instrument at 200% of its capacity...I am therefore wondering if this is a wise approach on a longer term. Let's enjoy the moment...
Giuseppe Sabbatini...God, what an amazing tenor... a beautiful 'light' lyrico-spinto di agilita... I mean by that he has the spinto color and focus, extraordinary projection, stunning high notes, voice flexibility - including outstanding piani/ssimi - matching all demands of the role's high tessitura...who else currently has such an easy, free, ringing full 'chest'-voice high D natural???... His musicianship is simply phenomenal...no flaw in his technique...a very clever and sensitive interpreter... His aria+cabaletta scene in jail is a moment of pure vocal grace.
Hearing his 'Nottingham', I understand why the baryton, Roberto Servile was 'sponsored' by Pavarotti. He is a charming, 'techniquewise' flawless singer of the traditional Italian school of singing with a warm lyrical baryton voice... He does not have a very varied palet of vocal colors to express but he delivers a solid performance. His acting skills - like Pavarotti to some extents :)- are average but sufficient enough here in this context.
Ildiko Komlosi interprets a charming although sometimes unidimensional Sara with her delightful voice. She, like the other interpreters, also has the 'physique' of the role which contributes to the interest of her performance vocally very satisfactory.
One negative remark though... Who gave valium to the audience prior to this performance...the 'polite and conventional' reaction to such a stunning performance at the curtain's fall is to me ridiculous... I dream of watching such opera performances every night...
This DVD is a must-buy/watch/keep/rewatch and recommend...
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great voice! Great acting!, November 9, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Donizetti - Roberto Devereux (DVD)
I can't imagine a better performance than this Roberto Devereux (and I know there isn't). All the singers are excellent and they acts so well. Giuseppe Sabbatini in the title role is superb. His voice is so tender and his pianissimo is to die for. He looks the part and he is a good actor. Pendatchanska as Elizabeth is just perfect. What a voice! What an actress! I even wonder if she's able to play any other opera, because she is so great in this role. Roberto's lover Sara and the Duke also are excellent singers/actors. The costumes are sumptuous and the set is georgeous. The music is great from the begining to the end. The ouverture is one of his best and a beautiful yet challenging aria/cabaletta follows one after another. Truly it's a feast to ears.
The video is clear and the sound is 5.1. What can one expect more!
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Al dolce guidami, April 17, 2001
This review is from: Donizetti - Roberto Devereux (DVD)
The other reviewers of this DVD are very positive and I count myself among them. I was jumping out of my seat after a few minutes after starting to watch this. I am not going to go into a detailed description of it, because I feel that all the superlatives one can muster up in appreciation of this DVD cannot do it justice. I should mention that Pendatchanska does not have a 'beautiful' voice - what she does have is a thorough knowledge of characterisation and the proper attack and complete understanding of what Donizetti's Elisabetta is about - she does NOT disappoint. So if you expect the watered-down twitterings of a Gruberova or Sutherland, steer clear - this is a Sturm und Drang interpretation that few can equal: from the ringing acuti to the wispy filati to the chested declamations that can summon a graveyard to life.
Although the supporting cast sing with conviction and truly beautifully well-supported voices, I feel that they do not quite reach Pendatchanska's dramatic commitment. Komlosi as the Sara is a sympathetic performer who should deserve more acclaim. Sabatini as Roberto looks and sounds the part, and then some more. Servile as the Duke also has a superb voice. Every aspect of this production has been lovingly thought about: costumes, staging and camera work are breathtaking - thumbs up to all those involved! The orchestra plays very thoughtfully and the conductor seems to be most interested and concerned with the singers needs. The indolence of the audience beats me. This production makes one want to see more opera - regardless of the composer or period. If you are interested in similar committed, thoughtful productions do give the ENO 'Xerxes', Pappano 'Don Carlos' and Covent Garden 'Mitridate' also available on DVD a go.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roberto Excellence, September 22, 2007
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This review is from: Donizetti - Roberto Devereux (DVD)
I now have two Roberto Devereux's on DVD, one with Beverley Sills & this one with Alexandrina Pendatchanska. I raved about the Sills recording; but having seen this one, I am gob-smacked. I thought Sills could act! You haven't seen anything till you see Pendatchanska's Elizabetta. It is so life-like, it's scary. To be perfectly honest, I had never heard of this woman until now. I did not know what I was getting, as I did not know any of the cast, so I was apprehensive when I first played this DVD.
All I can say, I was glad no one could see me when it finished as I was clapping and shouting like a fool. I was in tears & could hardly speak as I was so emotional. Never have I seen such a production like this. The staging, cast, costumes, lighting & Orchestra were much more than I expected. Giuseppe Sabatini's Roberto matched Pendatchanska's Elizabetta to a tee. Roberto Serville & Ildiko Komlosi's Nottingham (Duke) & Sara (Duchess) were a perfectly matched husband & wife team. This is just one of those gems you stumble upon once in a life time. I just love this opera and have many recordings of it on LP, CD & DVD and I just happen to see this one and bought it on speck, not knowing what it would be like & got more than I bargained for. So it is unashamedly that I can strongly recommend this version to you over all the others. I'm not usually pushy in my reviews, but this opera has changed that.
The quality of the picture is perfect and you are offered two sound systems; Dolby Stereo & Dolby 5.1 Surround; which brings me to mention a couple of times the singers go off mike, but on the whole the sound is very good.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating production, May 9, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Donizetti - Roberto Devereux (DVD)
This is a live performance but there is not much noise from the audience. I guess the microphones were placed well. I hadn't heard of the singer who plays the role of the Queen Elisabeth, but, she is really exceptional. She has a rich voice and manages one of the hardest coloraturas with ease. And she looks the part, too. Her acting even reminded me of Bette Davis in The Private Life of Elisabeth and Essex. I hope to see her more. Giuseppe Sabbatini is my absolute favorite tenor today. He is perfect. At the curtain call, he looks around the audience and looks wondered, maybe because the theater was half empty. That explains also the reason why there wassn't much noise from the audience. All the other singers are the top notch. They look the parts and sing/act great. The decor is magnificient and the costumes are sumptuous.
The quality of video and the audio is sharp and crisp. One of the best opera DVDs along with Semiramide and Tristan & Isolde. Image Entertainment did a good job, again!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Donizetti, August 22, 2010
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This review is from: Donizetti - Roberto Devereux (DVD)
This DVD is very rare. It is a - visually and vocally - stunning production from Napoli's "Teatro San Carlo" and it leaves, for the true Donizetti lover, very little to be desired.
As one reviewer mentions, the audience seems to be "sitting on their hands" but this might be explained by another reviewer's remark that it is probably the dress rehearsal. Actually, this should have been met with accolades of approval otherwise. The justly famous singers give great interpretations and the stage settings are magnificent. No need to praise each singer individually. If you love Donizetti, this is a must have. Get it as long as it is available at reasonable prices.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could there be more stars?, January 31, 2007
This review is from: Donizetti - Roberto Devereux (DVD)
Amazing!

Couldn't imagine modern operatic production could reach such high level.

Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley are well-known historical characters, but Donizetti's opera is less well-known.

With the swerve of Elizabethan mania these days over Helen Mirren's performances for the two Queen Elizabeths, one cannot help but recall this almost 10-year old opera recording.

Too much praise is due to Sabbatini and Pendachanska's singing. I note that some viewers here call her an unknown Russian or European soprano.

Well, she is not famed for beauty (though she in fact has ample share of it), and in this opera she successfully portrays an aged (and ugly) ERI.

I wonder if she would have hitted the headlines then when she starred in a role that shows her beauty off - too much pity that her 2002 La Traviata wasn't recorded on DVD. Wonder if Netrebko would have any chance now had Pendachanska had more luck then.

(Post-script)In any event, time has proven that Pendatchanska's assumption of ERI in this opera has NOT yet been surpassed by modern sopranos.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stellar "Roberto Deverwux", December 17, 2003
By 
lawrence d katz (ft lauderdale, fl United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Donizetti - Roberto Devereux (DVD)
I more or less stopped keeping track of singers after Sutherland, Sills, and Horne stopped singing, so I had never heard of Pendatchanska. I had the good fortune of seeing Beverly Sills sing all three Donizetti queens, and lament that only Roberto Devereux was videotaped - what a loss. She defined these roles forever. However, you can add Pendatchanska to the list of great QE I's - a bigger voice than Sills, not quite the coloratura, but fabulous nevertheless. Since this opera is sparsely represented in the discography, buy it for Pendatchanska - you won't be disappointed. I have to agree with the other reviews I've read - someone must have put narcotics into the air of the opera house - the audience responded to this fabulous singling as though half-dead. OH, well.
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Donizetti - Roberto Devereux
Donizetti - Roberto Devereux by Giuseppe Sabbatini (DVD - 2000)
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