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Rossini: Armida (The Metropolitan Opera Live 2010)

31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Renée Fleming continues her reign as `Queen of the MET', starring in a bel canto rarity specially staged for her - a showcase for her extraordinary vocal virtuosity as well as one of the most beautiful voices of our time. This four-hour bel canto extravaganza is presented here on 2 DVDs. In addition to the great prima donna title role, Armida uniquely features no fewer than six tenor roles, here led by the acclaimed young American tenor Lawrence Brownlee(previously featured on the DG DVD of the Met's La Cenerentola.)In Mary Zimmerman's magical new production, supported by striking sets and colorful costumes and a fully-staged ballet, the `real world' of the Crusaders and the fantastical realm of Armida's enchanted island are clearly contrasted. Of Renée Fleming's performance, the The Opera Critic said: "The beautiful singing and appearance of Fleming make this an event worth seeing... She was especially brilliant in her long final scene which calls for rich legato singing as well as flashy ornamentation". Renée Fleming returns to the Met in Armida February 18 - March 5, 2011.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Renée Fleming, Lawrence Brownlee, John Osborn, Kobie van Rensburg, Ricardo Frizza
  • Directors: Mary Zimmerman, Gary Halvorson
  • Writers: Gioachino Rossini, Giovanni Schmidt
  • Producers: Peter Gelb, The Metropolitan Opera
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Decca (Universal Music Group)
  • DVD Release Date: February 15, 2011
  • Run Time: 171.00 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004CPJC8U
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,684 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Matt B on February 2, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Rossini composed Armida in 1817 to celebrate the reopening of the Teatro San Carlo in Naples which had been destroyed by fire the previous year. The opera was intended to be an impressive event that would feature all that the Neapolitan company had to offer. The orchestration was to be brilliant, the singing spectacular, and even the ballet would be featured prominently. Rossini certainly did not disappoint and produced an extravagant score... a score that must have seemed to be very avant guard at the time. Incidentally, the San Carlo was blessed with an abundance of tenors, so the opera contains no less than six prominent tenor roles. There is even a trio for three tenors in the final act that is a precursor to the "three tenor craze" of recent years.

That Neapolitan premiere had as it's focal point the San Carlo's prima donna the dramatic coloratura soprano extraordinaire and future Signora Rossini, Isabella Colbran in the title role. The celebrated tenor Giovanni David was featured in the leading tenor role of Rinaldo. So how does the MET version measure up in comparison?

Actually Renee Fleming is quite good even though she tends to slur some of the coloratura... and I think that is a function of her trying to fuse jazz style improvisation with the Bel Canto tradition of embellishment. Also, I wish the voice had more heft and power as it seems just a half size too small for the part. Perhaps I should have better tried to erase memories of Maria Callas who preformed the piece at the 1952 Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, but even Joyce DiDonato in extensive excerpts on her recent Rossini CD proves to be stiff competition as well. Still, Fleming does herself proud, and in a role that is one of the most difficult that Rossini ever penned...
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By flemingfan on January 15, 2011
Format: DVD
I may be a bit bias in reviewing this new DVD of the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Rossini's charming "ARMIDA" as I have always been a huge fan of soprano Renee Fleming. Her charisma as a person and an artist are extremely attractive to me and her desire to push herself beyond what is expected of her as an artist is a quality to be admired. That being said when I saw her sing this role live it gave me chills listening to her. She beautifully fit into the role of the sorceress tempting Rinaldo away from his duties both physically and vocally. Although Rossini is not a specialty of her's, her unique timbre and the color of her voice provided some of the longer legato lines with a quality that both enchants and brings goosebumps. Her runs and faster sections were not always perfection and she seemed to struggle somewhat with Rossini's challenging ornamentation however there is no denying that the effort was a valiant one and not completely unsuccessful. If she was going to attempt any Rossini opera this one was a perfect fit and she sang with a confidence in herself that made any vocal flaws vanish. Lawrence Brownlee, a magnificent Rossini tenor, was wonderful and nearly stole the show from Fleming. His singing was almost flawless and he moved with ease through the complicated workings of the music, singing with passion and care.

Mary Zimmerman has often been criticized for her productions at the Met and I will not deny her mismanaged "La Sonnambula" was a mistake from the very conception. It was a boring, dull, and frankly confusing production that need never be revived at the Met again. Let's hope Peter Gelb locks it away and doesn't speak of it again. However her production of "Lucia di Lammermoor" I found inspired.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By L. Mitnick on January 12, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
With all due respect to the previous reviewer, I do not find this Mary Zimmerman production as bad as he found it. While nothing in this production would make me think of the Crusades, at least it was colorful and looked glitzy. It makes little difference anyway because it is highly unlikely that we will ever see this opera staged again (notwithstanding the repeat performances taking place at the Met next month). "Armida" is not one of Rossini's stronger operas. I'll go even further and say that it's not an important opera at all. The plot is too insane and inane to waste words on, and the piece is quite lengthy. So what does it have to offer?

If one is captivated by virtuoso bel singing, and if one is tenor-crazy, then this is definitely a piece of exotica that you should investigate. All the tenors are excellent, most notably Lawrence Brownlee and John Osborn. There are tenor arias, duets, and all are embellished with florid cadenzas and rousing conclusions. In fact, I had a problem distinguishing which tenor was singing which character. But this matters very little because the effect is that of an elaborate vocal concert in costume. I found the ballet mildly interesting, though somewhat longer than I expected. One wonders if Rossini inserted it to give the singers a rest.

Renee Fleming is to be commended and lauded for taking on this fiendishly difficult florid role. Maria Callas caused a sensation with this opera in Florence in 1952, and along with her revelatory performances of Norma, Gioconda, Lady Macbeth and Lucia di Lammermoor, firmly established herself as the reigning prima donna of the world. Well, Renee Fleming is no Maria Callas, but then again, who is?
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