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Stefano Landi: Il Sant' Alessio (2007)

Philippe Jaroussky , Max Emanuel Cencic , Benjamin Lazar , François Roussillon  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emanuel Cencic, Xavier Sabata, Alain Buet, William Christie
  • Directors: Benjamin Lazar, François Roussillon
  • Writers: Stefano Landi, Giulio Rospigliosi
  • Producers: Les Arts Florissants
  • Format: Multiple Formats, NTSC, Color, DTS Surround Sound, Surround Sound, Dolby
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Erato
  • DVD Release Date: June 24, 2008
  • Run Time: 162 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0013D8M1W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,088 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Baroque composer Stefano Landi's lesser-known opera Sant'Alessio -- the earliest opera on a historical, rather than mythological subject -- has rarely been performed because of its reliance on eight male singers (all castrati). Undeterred, conductor Willi

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection! March 25, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is scheduled for release on April 15, and I have rarely so anxiously awaited the arrival of any opera on DVD. Through the wonders of technology I watched this performance performance from the Théâtre de Caen live from my home in Portland, Maine.

Beginning with an absolutely gorgeous Sinfonia and flowing through three powerful, entertaining thought provoking and often moving acts, I can't imagine this opera not capturing both the attention and heart of baroque music lovers and opera fans, at least some opera fans!).

I have been a fan of Philippe Jaroussky since his bursting onto the baroque scene a few years ago, yet somehow this was my first opportunity to experience him in a complete role. Sold. We're seeing a differentiation between male treble singers these days: For instance in comparing the sound of David Daniels to Jaroussky, I would think Daniels to be something akin to a "heldencountertenor" - while Jaroussky's is naturally higher lying, with a more feminine and sweeter presence to it. In this very authentic looking stylized era (and Noh) inspired production, young Mr. Jaroussky's movements, facial expressions, and voice all coalesce into a powerful, genuinely moving portrayal of Alessio. I was particularly touched by the big Act I scene "under the stairs" of his father's home. Watching Jaroussky's arm movements one can't help draw the conclusion he'd watched a lot of Kathleen Battle and Maria Callas videos for he has the business down quite effectively. Some may find it artificial but "art" is part of "artificial, and I, for one, loved it.

Musically, one needs hear only a little bit of his music to realize Landi - was a contemporary of Monteverdi.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
This DVD is already available in Canada and I have watched it with ravishment. I already knew Christie's CD version from some years ago, with a mostly female cast, but this all-male version towers above it, if only vocally and musically.

The scenic production is fascinating, with lighting accomplished only with candles, giving a beautiful and slightly unstable visual texture to costumes and sets. The latter consist of an ingenious folding structure that can easily be reconfigured to stand as various parts of the family house, a public place or a country place. One of the most magical moments is when the double row of candles is lit up sequentially, bringing life to the first tableau of allegorical and symbolic figures.

The director seems to have instructed his performers to act in a slightly stylized manner, especially with the sustained poses of their hands, reminding me of paintings or sculptures where hands are frozen in gestures of acceptance, offering or devotion. One shortcoming the director had to work with though is the Maîtrise de Caen choir, whose members sing the ensembles and minor roles, and also try their best to act as extras. From the look of it, they do no seem to be used to performing in a dramatic staging; several of them seem detached, to be merely standing there and to be barely mouthing their part. Notable exceptions are mostly to be found amongst the child performers; for example, some of them give a very strong impression simply by the intensity of the attentive looks they give to the figure of Roma in the opening sequence.

As for the main performers, let us first marvel that we live in a time when so many talented countertenors could be found to fill the 9 roles necessary.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Squalid Saint, and the Birth of the Baroque September 13, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Saint Alexis (Alessio) was a Roman patrician of the 4th C AD, the only son of a Christian family served by 500 slaves. On the evening of his properly arranged marriage, he informed his new bride that "consummation" wasn't in the plan, that in fact he was departing on a pilgrimage and had no return date in mind. Then he set off, with a retinue of slaves and a bag of money, for Ephesus and other points east. He soon gave away his wealth and settled into the life of a holy beggar for seventeen years, during which time he never communicated with his Roman home. His father sent a party of servants to search for him; they saw the beggar, and he recognized them, but no contact was made. After seventeen years, Alexis was carried to Rome by a storm at sea. In the street, he encountered his own father, who didn't recognize him, and pleaded for alms. The father let the "beggar" occupy a tiny space under the stairs in the family home. Alexis lived in sanctified austerity in that crawl space for another seventeen years, daily watching his parents and his wife mourn his mysterious absence. The servants of the household mocked and abused the squalid beggar behind the householders' backs. Finally, an angel announced to Alexis that his penitence was adequate and that he would be allowed to die. Alexis wrote a letter describing his 34-year "adventure" and was found clutching the letter in his dead hand. The Pope and the Co-Emperors of Rome all came to observe the corpse and to acclaim the profound sanctity of Alexis's abnegation of sinful ordinary life. Miracles began to occur.

That's basically the story, from the Legenda Aurea, and the plot of Stefano Landi's dramatized oratorio. The plot would have been completely familiar to everyone who heard the oratorio, since Alexis was a widely venerated saint.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!
Though other reviewers have already rightfully sung the praises of this production, I cannot stress its sheer magnificence enough. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Alfredo R. Villanueva
4.0 out of 5 stars Weird and wonderful!
Unusual opera with an interesting history. They're faithful to the original - no women singers, just a whole raft of counter tenors. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Carolyn Hooker
5.0 out of 5 stars Christie had an exquisite CD version, but this DVD is real marvel!
This 2007 video of the oratorio by Landi had been recorded as CD by William Christie in 1996, with a soprano taking the role of the saint (Patricia Petibon). Read more
Published 22 months ago by Abert
5.0 out of 5 stars Luxuriant and Austere
Musically this is a difficult work to critique. Written by the Roman composer Stefano Landi (1590 - 1655) a younger contemporary of Monteverdi (1567 - 1643) it is at once luxuriant... Read more
Published on January 1, 2010 by Marcolorenzo
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome lenten entertainment!
this is a fantastic preformance of ancienne musique!
It is worth the buy i am glad to have found it and for the price! Read more
Published on April 4, 2009 by R. Dekreek
5.0 out of 5 stars At last an Authentic Baroque Opera
I am overjoyed by this DVD and it's production. I'm in total agreement with the three reviwers who praised this performance. I'd only like to add two comments. Read more
Published on January 12, 2009 by Dr. John W. Rippon
3.0 out of 5 stars A rare opera
This is a very good way to get into this masterwork from Landi. Unfortunately, the DVD is reducing the impact of the production. Read more
Published on August 11, 2008 by Thomas Malesys
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