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Donizetti: Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali (Viva la mamma)

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Jessica Pratt, Simon Bailey, Christian Senn, Vincenzo Taormina, Aurora Tirotta, Leonardo Cortellazzi, and Asude Karayavuz star in this La Scala production of the Donizetti opera conducted by Marco Guidarini and directed by Antonio Albanese.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jessica Pratt, Simon Bailey, Christian Senn, Vincenzo Taormina, Marco Guidarini
  • Directors: Antonio Albanese, Andy Sommer
  • Writers: Gaetano Donizetti, Domenico Gilardoni
  • Producers: Teatro alla Scala, Francois Duplat
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: Italian (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Bel Air Classiques
  • DVD Release Date: January 25, 2011
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003ZX0LZS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,203 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

I read in the booklet of a Naxos 1940 recording of Don Pasquale, that the italians have no rivals in the world of opera, being the ablest to create the most dramatic tales to go with the funniest ones.And if there is one composer that took this at musical peaks, it was Gaetano Donizetti.Seeing this buffa, you never would believe that he was the same man that wrote Lucia di Lamermoor, Poliuto,Roberto Devereux,Maria Stuarda,Anna Bolena et al.And much of the funny side have to do with the singers, specially Vincenzo Taormina, that it is the most comic travesti role(and like the first travesti roles,it is a man performing a woman) I have seen or heard. The rest of the cast, specially Jessica Pratt as the prima donna, Christian Senn as the composer and Simon Bailey as the primma donna husband, make a wonderful mix of the comic side,and in the times of Donizetti,sometimes very real too, of the machinations to do an opera.What a joke on our thoughts of inmaculated doings to produce the operas we love most than any musical form.But, as usual in the comedy, the truth is said with a big laugh or grin, and it is not less truth for that.Viva la mamma and Donizetti!.If you really like buffa, this is for you.If you do not enjoy it ,shame on you,it is your loss.
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This is a very entertaining performance of a rarely performed work. The genre is nearer to (and originally was) a Neapolitan farsa than a true opera -- a brief and broadly comic piece, usually with spoken dialogue and the lead comic character delivering his lines in the local dialect. This performance uses secco recitatives that Donizetti provided for a revival. The action, such as it is, takes place before, and during, the rehearsal of an opera performance. The situation develops interest with the arrival of the seconda donna's mother, Mamm'Agata. Donizetti gave this role to baritone, here lapsing occasionally into Neapolitan speech. Vincenzo Taormina is very funny, and only rarely, over-the-top as Mamm'Agata. The cast are all young singers, apparently from the apprentice artists program at La Scala. They consistently perform with assurance and some fine singing. Aurora Tirotta (Mamm'Agata's daughter), Christain Senn (as the German tenor) and Simon Bailey (the prima donna's husband) particularly stand out.

The music is more patter than melody, so the action moves on quickly. The highlight is Mamm'Agata's send-up of the Willow Song from Rossini's "Otello." The score contains less than 90 minutes of music, so three of the artists are given the opportunity to insert "trunk" arias in the brief second act. Jessica Pratt (the prima donna) exhibits more valor the success in attempting a very florid number from Rossini's "Aureliano in Palmira." The "German" tenor gives a lovely rendition of "Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön" and the seconda donna gets to show off a beautifully sung account of an aria from Donizetti's "Fausta."

I've no idea why the director chose to set the action on a beach, instead of in an inn and the theatre as the libretto specifies. Still the odd setting doesn't detract from the fun, so I recommend this for an evening's light entertainment.
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What can I say? Donizetti is the first composer to deconstruct opera as a very complex business having less to do with music than with egos. Vicenzo Toarmina reigns supreme in the travesti role of mamma Agata in this opera, which I did not know previously. I have not had such fun with an opera in ages. Leonardo Cortelazzi reminded me of Wunderlich in his Mozart aria, and Aurora Tirotta shines in her "Fausta" aria. But the real star is Donizetti. He never ceases to amaze me, and now I realize he was savvy enough to know that beautiful music does not equal depth of content. A true jewel. How i wish these singers got to know they have a true fan in New York, land of the 1% opera!
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Among Donizetti's early operas, this opera buffa was his most popular work before Anna Bolena. Maybe it's partly due to the differences of the times, but the 1827 work had to wait until the 1960s for a modern revival. The title translates as Conventions and Inconveniences of the Stage - or Viva La Mamma!" and this 2009 performance was its first at La Scala. It's hardly performed these days and there are reasons why.

The idea here is a fine one: a spoof of a regional opera company's preparation and rehearsal for a performance. It does have its moments, especially those involving Mamma Agata, the mother of one of the competing female singers. It's written for a baritone and gets a wacky, bawdy portrayal by stage mother from hell Vincenzo Taormina, enjoying his cross-dressing role - and massively wide hairdo (which his daughter matches) - to the hilt.

While Mozart and Strauss wrote several male roles for mezzo-sopranos, after seeing this, one wonders why opera composers haven't written many female roles for baritones and basses. Taormina milks the role for all its worth and steals the show.

The work indeed offers outstanding possibilities. The singers try to furiously upstage one another and threaten to walk. Mamma Agata zealously promotes her daughter and insists on an aria for her. The German tenor can't master his aria and doesn't know Italian (he sings it in German). The chorus acts out like petulant children. The conductor, librettist and impresario haggle with nearly everyone. The company eventually flees town after the show collapses.

Excellent comic possibilities but unfortunately, the humor is largely not very well realized. Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali shows how difficult comedy is to pull off.
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