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Rossini - Semiramide / Conlon, Anderson, Horne, Metropolitan Opera

4.2 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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(Dec 12, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Filmed at New York's Metropolitan Opera, John Copley's production of Rossini's last, longest and most elaborate work for the Italian stage brings together what many consider the definitive contemporary cast, led by Marilyn Horne and June Anderson. Semiramide, a strong and melodious work, is one of Rossini's greatest dramatic operas, offering a fine challenge to the superb contralto and soprano bel canto singing of Ms. Horne and Ms. Anderson. Sanford Olsen, Samuel Ramey, Marilyn Horne, June Anderson. James Conlon conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus. 220 minutes.

Bel canto can be translated as "pretty singing," and that definition seems tailor-made for this production, which offers grace, charm, and a fine-tuned sense of style in abundance to compensate for its limited psychological and emotional impact. The four principal singers are all specialists in the bel canto style, and this opera has played a key role in building their substantial reputations. Their singing is more spectacular than their acting, but that is what bel canto is all about. Those who want gut-wrenching situations and passionate emoting should try the verismo style. Meanwhile, for its sweeping musical imagination and technical wizardry, Rossini's epic about royal assassination and misdirected lust in the ancient Babylonian empire deserves a place in any inclusive opera collection, and we are not likely to have a better video Semiramide recording in the foreseeable future.

June Anderson has an attractive appearance and sounds exactly right in the music's florid melodic lines. But she is not dramatically compelling as the wicked queen who had her husband killed and fell in love with a man who turned out to be her long-lost son, Arsace. Marilyn Horne rose to the highest levels of international fame in the role of that conflicted son, and her presence alone would be enough to give this video classic status. Her voice was a bit past its prime when this performance was recorded in 1991, but still there is no other voice quite like it, no other voice so suited to Rossini's heroic mezzo roles. Samuel Ramey is a close bass counterpart to Anderson: great tone, agile florid singing, and a rather wooden but visually appealing stage presence. Sanford Olsen has a small role and sings it almost perfectly. James Conlon gets excellent musical results; John Copley's staging is massive and static. --Joe McLellan

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: June Anderson, Marilyn Horne, Stanford Olsen, Samuel Ramey, Young-Ok Shin
  • Directors: Brian Large
  • Writers: Gaetano Rossi
  • Format: Classical, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0), Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 12, 2000
  • Run Time: 219 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004Z4W9
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,395 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Rossini - Semiramide / Conlon, Anderson, Horne, Metropolitan Opera" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 29, 2000
Format: DVD
Finally, Rossini's greatest musical drama reaches the dvd screen with a cast and production worthy of the music and its composer. Critics praised Horne's performance but with reservations but the audience had no reservations in its acclaim and I was fortunate to have been at the last performance of the series. Unfortunately I did not enjoy the presence of Anderson and Olson, superior in every way to their replacements. Olson is one of the few bel canto tenors who can sing Rossini without sounding coarse,thin and labored. Olson is like a lighter voiced Vargas. Merritt is out of the running when we have Olsen to sing with such security and beauty. Cuberli was good but Anderson I find stunning in her coloratura, tone and security. No one but Caballe sang it with such security and with even more beauty of tone and timber. The Met never deemed to bless us with Sutherland in the role of Semiramide, (She and Horne made the opera present to the twentieth century. The lack of their presence at the Met in this opera is lamentable but the Met is good at that.) All in all then a peforance to cherish, a real treat! And Ramey is breathtaking in his coloratura, power, declamation with a timber that is velvet wrapt in silk. His "mad scene" in Act II is a tour de force and there is no one I have heard who can touch him in the role of Assur. Horne is astonishing in every category of voice, clarity and sheer beauty. The four leads sing the roulades and leaps with effortless ease with the drama intact. Only Ewa Podles can do this punishingly role any better and the Met doesn't seem to know of her in spite of her concert some seasons ago in a evening of Rossini arias with full orchestra at Carnegie Hall. From all revues that was a performanace for all seasons.Read more ›
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As a life long opera fan, but only familiar with Semiramide from various excerpts I came to this DVD ready to rate it somewhere below The Barber in enjoyment.
Boy was I wrong!! The costumes, sets and musical tour de force quite blew me away.
Marilyn Horn, June Anderson, Samuel Ramey and especially the Met Orchestra were in top form. Not only is this DVD in wide screen format, but it is an enhanced format for large screen tv's, so that the picture is not all crammed down to the middle.
The surround-sound is excellently accomplished, with the orchestra being featured not over and above the singers, but in combination with them. I totally enjoyed this performance, which proved to be a typical Metropolitan Opera show. In other words -- The best that you'll see anywhere.
If you don't have ANY other opera in your collection, I would highly recommend this one as the one to get for visually stunning costumes, tremendous sets, great singing, and great orchestral support
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Format: VHS Tape
Samuel Ramey's international career began in earnest when he sang the role of Assur in Rossini's "Semiramide" at the 1980 Aix-en-Provence Festival. Two of his co-stars were no slouches, either: Marilyn Horne and Montserrat Caballé.
Horne and Ramey both repeat their roles in this 1990 New York Metropolitan Opera version of Rossini's last great dramatic opera, with Horne singing the trousers role of the young hero, Arsace. This is the opera video I'm going to wear out first because the singers are so perfectly cast (and because I'm a Rossini nut). Luckily, I've got a second copy.
I also have a video of the Aix-en-Provence "Semiramide," but the tenor was terrible and the costumes were atrocious--almost everyone was dressed up to look like chunks of ancient Assyrian architecture (perhaps because the soprano resembled a chunk of ancient Assyrian architecture, even without a costume). I'd give Caballé the edge over June Anderson vocally, but dramatically Anderson is 'the' personification of the flamboyant Met Semiramide.
Ramey is superb both vocally and dramatically in the role of the villain Assur. His powerful, agile bass is displayed to perfection in the long and very difficult duets with Semiramide ("Se la vita ancor t'è cara") and Arsace ("Bella imago degli Dei"), and in his own aria, "Il di già cade" toward the end of the opera. His singing is always elegant, never over the top, even in the basso mad scene (with chorus) when he sees the ghost of the king he and Semiramide had murdered.
The role of Arsace was practically invented by Marilyn Horne.
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Format: DVD
This recording of Semiramide captures an all-star cast of Rossini specialists all in good voice and clearly "on" for the evening's performance. There are some glorious examples of duet singing for the soprano and mezzo executed with brilliance and style by June Anderson and Marilyn Horne. I own a CD recording of this opera with Marilyn Horne made back in the 1960s. The quality of Marilyn Horne's singing in the DVD makes it hard to believe that some 30 years separates her audio recording and this taped performance at the Met! Having seen this production of Semiramide at the Met (unfortunately with a different cast) the DVD captures the lavish scenery and costumes of the opera production well. The tracking on the DVD is well done and permits one to skip through the entire performance and get all major segments of music (arias, ensembles, etc.) with relative ease. The special features could stand to be beefed up some more but the ability to turn the multi-language subtitles on and off is an added bonus Iuseful. The other (minor) draw back I noticed was that in certain scenes, the reflection of the opera house lights off of certain character's costumes (i.e., Semiramide's crown) in several scenes created a split-second glare that was distracting at times. Despite this, I still give this five stars and would more than tolerate that minor distraction for the quality of picture and clarity of the DVD provided. Overall, a good addition to anyone's home viewing opera collection. With the aid of surround sound speakers as part of a home theater system, this DVD is the next best thing to actually seeing the performance live.
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