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  • Meyerbeer - L'Africaine / Arena, Domingo, Verrett, San Francisco Opera [VHS]
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Meyerbeer - L'Africaine / Arena, Domingo, Verrett, San Francisco Opera [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Plácido Domingo, Shirley Verrett, Ruth Ann Swenson, Justino Díaz, Patricia Spence
  • Directors: Brian Large
  • Writers: Eugène Scribe
  • Format: Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 2
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • VHS Release Date: April 29, 1997
  • Run Time: 189 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304469632
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,162 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Extremely rare VHS 9786304469637 Meyerbeer - L'Africaine / Arena, Domingo, Verrett, San Francisco Opera [VHS] ISBN 10: 6304469632 ISBN 13: 9786304469637 Publisher: Kultur Video Publication Date: 2000-05-31

Customer Reviews

The Dolby digital sound is very ok.
Alain Blouin
The management has announced a retrenchment, a coming season with one less production and fewer performances.
Giordano Bruno
The singing of all the principals is excellent, especially Verrett, Domingo and Swenson.
C. Harbison

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Julian Grant on May 3, 2002
Format: DVD
This was a 1988 revival of a 1971 production (available on a live CD) that teamed Domingo (Vasco da Gama) and Verrett (Selika - both then very much in their prime) in Meyerbeer's discursive swan-song. Seventeen years on, they are more statuesque than sexy, but both give larger-than-life performances that contain moments of completely thrilling vocalism. That is the only way to do a piece like this - which is leisurely, structurally broken-backed (though the many cuts exacerbate this) and contrasts music of real prophetic power (Verdi certainly took several ideas over into 'Aida') with some of mind-numbing banality, that is almost unintentionally comic - but that was Meyerbeer's problem, no quality control and a short breathed melodic invention that shows him wanting next to the real masters of 19th century opera. However, this traditional and opulent production makes the best possible case for the piece and it is thoroughly enjoyable in a slightly camp way.
The casting is very strong, with the exception of Justino Diaz's Nelusko, which has strong presence but not much vocal allure. As Inez, Vasco da Gama's fiancee and rival for Shirley Verrett, Ruth Ann Swneson sings with great beauty and has impressive stage presence, very much holding her own in the confrontation with Verrett in the last act (precursor of Aida and Amneris here). Domingo is refulgent of tone and dramatically convincing, and he and Verrett strike sparks. She really comes into her own in one of the most preposterous mad-scenes in all opera, where she is slowly poisoned by the scent of a giant tree, contriving to make this dramatically truthful and even moving. Bravos all round for a good old-fashioned night at the opera.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Alain Blouin on December 27, 2003
Format: DVD
I've got to say, I am a Meyerbeer fan, as well as a fan of Grand opera in general. When I listened to "Les Huguenots", it was for me a real revelation. Thus, I had high hopes for this opera, which is Meyerbeer's last work, his swan song. I was in no way disappointed, though this work has a very different feel to it than Les Huguenots. While Les Huguenots is a very somber story, with persecution, impossible love, religion, and martyrdom, L'Africaine is entirely a love story, and manages to be sometimes very intimistic, despite it's use of chorus and grandiose effects.
If I had to compare this work to any other work of the romantic era, I would compare it to Verdi's "Falstaff". Of course, both works have, esthetically, pretty much nothing in common (if this work is musically similar to a Verdian work, it is Aïda, for it uses similar orientalizing elements), it's only that L'Africaine seems to have a bit of Verdi's last opera's atmosphere. For both composers, throughout their lives, composed melodramatic love stories, more or less in the spirit of their time. While Verdi ends with a comedy where he makes fun of all his teary-eyed tragedies, Meyerbeer gives us a last tragedy, but seems to approach it more philosophically. As if, used to this atmosphere, he tries to find a moral to the ensemble of the operas he ever composed, giving the sentence it's period, the sundae it's cherry. He approaches the cast's misfortunes with a tender eye, instead of over-dramatizing, and gives the world a somewhat lighter work than his previous Grand operas, which doesn't stop him from giving a worthy rendition of the characters' feelings, and being pathetic when need be (especially at Selika's death scene).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. Harbison on July 12, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The singing of all the principals is excellent, especially Verrett, Domingo and Swenson. The production of this complex, multi-scene work is fine, the conducting a little leaden. But all in all, it is surely the best available recording (3 other live performances on CD) of an archetypal mid-19th century cultural experience (with all its non-politically correct moments). Wonderful, if very carefully constructed melodic lines--this is where Verdi's great Don Carlos comes from. An essential operatic DVD.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Juan M. Lleras on January 8, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Both from the musical and scenical points of view, this is a great performance of Meyerbeer's opera with the elegant and beautiful Shirley Verrett, the powerful Domingo and Ruth Ann Swenson.
However I should have prefered to have much less noise in the recording. Sometimes I am tempted to turn off the DVD for it sound more like a workshop than an opera house. This is a minus five star performance of the sound engineers, in an otherwise great opera recording.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Giordano Bruno on January 18, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Unfortunately, that seems to be an open question in 2012. On the side of optimism, there are scores of operas being staged from coast to coast, not just in the "major" opera houses but by festivals, universities, smaller community theaters, experimental companies, semi-professional and amateurs. On the less optimistic side, there has been rather dismal news from well-established companies on both coasts. The New York City Opera, the company where so many 'stars' first shined, is virtually defunct; it has fled from Lincoln Center and its alternate-venue 2012 season is on the edge of cancellation. The San Francisco Opera, which produced the sumptuous "L'Africaine" of this DVD in the mid 1990s, has been losing money faster than my or your stock portfolio: $1.5 million, $1,8 million, and $2.4 million over the last three seasons. The management has announced a retrenchment, a coming season with one less production and fewer performances. Plans are based on a season weighted toward "warhorses": 12 performances each of Rigoletto and Tosca, 9 of Tales of Hoffman with Natalie Dessay, 7 each of Lohegrin and Cosi Fan Tutte, and 6 of Bellini's Capulets and Montagues starring Joyce di Donato. It's wildly hoped that such a season of standards will carry the cost of two contemporary works; a revival of Jake Heggie's Moby Dick and a premiere of Mark Adamo's The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. Alas, anyone who has attended an opera in SF in recent years has observed the "graying" of the audience, a shock for European vsitors who are accustomed to sharing the aisles with lots of younger opera lovers. But it's worse, mes amis, than it looks; the SF Opera has a generous policy of selling "senior rush" tickets the morning of each performance, the best seats available for $30, with a limit of two per senior.Read more ›
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