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The Life of Verdi

4.3 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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(Nov 18, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

"Sumptuously costumed and splendidly staged, this elaborate cinematic biography blends documentary with drama to tell the story of a great artistic genius who became the musical voice of a nation."* Booklist. Filmed on location in Italy, Leningrad, London, and Paris, this epic mini-series took several years to create, requiring more than 100 actors, 1800 extras, and 4000 costumes. This uncut version dubbed in English is 4 hours longer than the edited version that originally aired on Public Television to great acclaim. This spectacular film is filled with Verdi’s glorious music, sung in the original Italian and taken from past recordings featuring such operatic legends as Renata Tebaldi, Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, and Birgit Nilsson. Stars Ronald Pickup, who plays Verdi with a "subdued, dignified passion" and Carla Fracci, the famed Italian ballerina, who is "absolutely superb" as Giuseppina Strepponi, Verdi’s second wife (Clive Barnes).

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Ronald Pickup, Carla Fracci, Giampiero Albertini, Omero Antonutti, Lino Capolicchio
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English, Italian
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2003
  • Run Time: 600 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000DI86N
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,238 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Life of Verdi" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The greatness of Verdi is detailed meticulously in this brilliant miniseries/documentary. If you're a Verdi fan, this is definitely a must see. However, the DVD transfer is horrible. It would seem like that the source of the transfer is an old VHS tape. There are sections where the entire screen and audio are chewed up. This problem occurs frequently in episodes 3-6. Would it have killed Kultur to remaster the source?
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Format: DVD
Some years ago, I had watched the original TV series that is superb, and left me with vivid memories. This is one of the very best biographies of a great artist that I ever watched on TV. A landmark. Definitely 5-star. I have great admiration and respect for the quality and authenticity of all the works of director Renato Castellani. So I was really happy to find that I could buy this biography of Verdi in DVD's.
However, this company KULTUR and its staff deserve to be taken to the woodshed -- maybe to court?
From a user point of view, there are several problems: (1) the quality of the recording is poor, video tracking pops-up from time to time. Images of large scale views such at the stage in La Scala are not sharp. It is readily apparent that this DVD series has not been made from the original tapes from some copy: this is conspicuous at the start of Episode 2 where the introducer's blue dress "bleeds" startingly on the screen. [I have not yet found the time to watch the last three episodes. Maybe there are surprises there too. I hope not.] (2) Switching from one episod to another is a true hassle because the programing is not set up properly. The episodes do not load on their own and start only after repeated clicks. Left unattended, the opening trailers at the start of each episode keep cycling endlessly. (3) There is also no background information about the series on paper: not on the cover box, not in a simple paper flyer inside the CD containers. The cover box only carries a quote from a review in a source named as "Booklist". The only basic information on how the series were made is embedded in the original PBS introductions to each episode.
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Format: DVD
On all counts the original presentation of "Life of Verdi" was a well-conceived and well-executed treat on all counts. What fails us now is Kultur's amateurish transfer. First of all, viewers can't skip past Robert Peter's introductions (which could easily have been omitted but at least she, unlike Burt Lancaster on PBS, could pronounce "Verdi"). Second, the transfer is from a flawed video tape. Tracking problems occur occasionally which they wouldn't had Kultur bothered to go back to the originals. How cheap!! Now watch them remaster it and us who have it forced to decide whether to get a whole new set of something that should have been done RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!!
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Format: DVD
+++++

This mini-series dubbed in English on DVD is a dramatized biography of one of the great opera composers, Giuseppe Verdi (1813 to 1901). The narrated biographical events are played out against the background of Italy's struggle for unity and independence, a cause to which Verdi (Ron Pickup) dedicated his art.

There is also romance in this movie as Verdi meets the significant women in his life: Margheritta (Daria Nicolodi), Giuseppina (Italian ballerina Carla Fracci), and Teresa (Eva Christian). All three along with an older Verdi are shown on the DVD's container cover.

The music in this movie is fantastic. It has recordings of leading operatic voices such as Luciano Pavarotti, Maria Callas, and Renata Tebaldi. The movie is stunningly photographed and includes actual highlights of many of Verdi's operas such as Nabucco (Nebuchadneezzar, King of Babylon, 1842), I Lombardi, Ernani, Rigoletto, La Traviata (The Lost One), Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball), Aida, Otello (his greatest lyric tragedy) and Falstaff (1893, his last opera).

Each part of this movie has a brief introduction given by a female host. Here is her introduction for the entire series:

"This is a seven-part dramatization of the life of the world's most important and beloved operatic composers. For the opera fans in the audience, we hope it will enhance your enjoyment...but you don't have to be a devoted opera buff to enjoy this exceptional docudrama. Some seven million dollars and two years time went into the making of [this mini-series]. It was filmed on location in Italy, France, England, and the Soviet Union. Great care was taken to ensure the accuracy of historical events, settings, and costuming as you will see.
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Format: DVD
Well to the reviewer of this film that said he wanted the DVD of it, I can only say I hope yours is better than the one we got! All four discs in the new factory sealed copy we received have some major problems, they'll play fine for a bit and then all sorts of lines, fuzziness and sometimes even pauses occur and are most distracting.
As to the film itself, we loved it! It is an interesting form of docudrama and we learned much watching it, not just about Verdi, but the changing world he lived in and his part in it. The sets are gorgeous and long as this version is, it didn't drag for us, we couldn't wait to get to the next installment to see what happened next.
I didn't find the narrator annoying, just the awful quality of the dvd! If I can find it in video format I may just buy it.
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