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Bellini: La Sonnambula

3.7 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

New York Metropolitan Opera production of Bellini's romantic opera 'La Sonnambula'. Juan Diego Florez, Natalie Dessay and Michelle Pertusi star; Evelino Pido conducts the Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Natalie Dessay, Juan Diego Florez, Michele Pertusi, Evelino Pido, The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
  • Directors: Mary Zimmerman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Classical, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Italian (DTS 5.1), Italian (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: Chinese, English, French, German, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Italian
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Decca
  • DVD Release Date: February 16, 2010
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002Y5FKUE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,924 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
This is the only live from the Met broadcast I have saved on my DVR for longer than a month. The singing is very good all around, some of the best I've seen from Dessay and Florez. The production is hit and miss for me.

On the hit side, updating this drama to current day make sense because it is a simple story of a girl being mis-accused of infidelity, and the storyline translates well to any age.

On the miss side the director thought it would be a brilliant idea to set it as an opera in rehearsal. The opera in rehearsal bit is cheap and does not translate well at all. In fact you can't really tell when they are in rehearsal mode and when they aren't, it was a really dumb idea. In fact the show only works if you more or less ignore that they are supposed to be somehow in rehearsal. Once you ignore the dumb concept seeing them in current day clothing makes the interaction between the characters more believable.
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I should start off to say that the entire cast was probably the ideal for this show. Florez and Dessay make an amazing pair on stage - they blend very well together and are amazing soloists in their arias too. The orchestra was also great. The chorus was lively and sounded together as a group... didn't hear any individuals wailing. It looked like they had quite a bit of fun for some of the conflict scenes.

Some newcomers may find the opera's story itself a little cheesy - in a sense it's supposed to be. It's a lighthearted and charming piece with a very basic story. It's not a particular favorite of mine but the music certainly makes up the missing excitement. If you think about it - this is a very elaborate opera of a simple misunderstanding which in the end gives you a happy ending and all are at peace. Really, it's pretty fun! With such a light-hearted story like this, some may say it calls for regietheater.

Mary Zimmerman and the rest of the production team was booed on opening night and did not bow for this recording. It has been staged here as a New York opera company rehearsing the opera La Sonnambula. Our issue here is characters do seem to be rehearsing some scenes and others they seem to be having out-of-character interaction. The main problem is that when the libretto doesn't change but the action does, we have a mess. It's made even more bizarre that there's this conflict that matches all the music (but not the words) and the unseen orchestra plays on - actors and instrumentalists disregarding one another's presence.

Other times the people don't seem to act like human beings at all - for a literal and specific set and place we have here, too often the action and character direction seems completely unrealistic (not all the time though).
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I was at the Met in person to watch this opera and the music and singing were tremendous, but I did not care for the production. It reminded me of a Gap commercial come to life. Just as important, at times there were so many people on stage at once it was difficult to keep track of the people singing. Ms. Dessay, Mr. Florez, or Mr. Pertusi could get lost in the crowd with the chorus. Now that the opera is on DVD, the opera comes across much better since the cameras can focus on the applicable people singing.

Reviewers have focused on the storyline. While it is not terribly believable, the reality is that many of the operas out there don't have such great plots either. Does an opera always have to have someone that dies tragically at the end? It's the music and singing that counts. And of course, a good production and set would be good too. The chemistry between Mr. Florez and Ms. Dessay was remarkable. Their respective timbres complement each other so well. Their duets were so delicious that I get easily absorbed into their singing and the sheer beauty of the music. While people will probably focus on Ms. Dessay's sleepwalking aria in Act II, Mr. Florez impressed with his jaw-dropping aria ("Ah perchè non posso odiarti") where he held the final note for an astounding 10+ seconds...with power. Unbelievable to see that in person - and great to see that again on the DVD.

La Sonnambula deserved a better staging for its sublime music, and despite the problems in the storyline and Ms. Zimmerman's production, this DVD is a worthy buy - if not for the camera work which provided better focus, then buy it for the music and singing.
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I'd like to start this review with a caveat: keep in mind that all these reviews are personal opinions. You, as the potential buyer, may not necessarily like what I like. I've purchased 40+ operas from Amazon, and I'm not always in agreement with what the reviews claim. This is particularly true of this production of La Sonnambula.

As for the singers, Juan Diego Flórez and Natalie Dessay are, of course, outstanding. Dessay's sleepwalking scene in act II will bring tears to your eyes. Jennifer Black as Lisa clearly relishes her role as the spiteful "understudy" in this production, throwing her arms up in triumph at the end of the act I finale after having ruined Amina's wedding to Elvino (though I will admit that her voice was just a bit weak in her upper register). There is a nice balance between the orchestra (the Met orchestra excellent as always) and the singers. The acting is first rate by all the performers. Truly, this is a wonderful production on the musical/acting side.

Where I differ in my opinion from some other reviewers concerns the overall concept of the setting. By staging the production in a modern rehearsal hall, Zimmerman is playing with the very notion of "staging". Never was I confused as to when we were in "rehearsal" and when we were in "real life". Some reviewers have complained about the occasional mismatch between the words and what is portrayed on stage, and they are entitled to their opinions. However, I wonder how much we have become too entrenched in "accurate, period productions", as if anything that doesn't include hoop skirts, bustles, and gentlemen in waist coats no longer counts as acceptable.
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