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Verdi - Stiffelio
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Stiffelio, about a Protestant minister who learns that his wife has cheated on him while he was away, has a story that is closer to verismo opera than most of the other operas of that time in that it deals with regular people rather than kings and queens, gods and goddesses. Like verismo, the emotion is often pushed to a level that is melodramatic, even larger than life. Yet even those moments have the core of truth to them, because Stiffelio's characters are never less, or more, than human, defined as they are by human weakness. This is a very powerful opera, Bergmanesque(as in Ingmar) in that it deals with the conflict between the spiritual life and the earthly one. This juxtaposition is never more beautifully realized than at the end of act two, where Stiffelio has just learned of his wife's indiscretion and is prepared to kill her but is stayed by the voices of the congregation emanating from the church, singing about forgiveness. I was overpowered, and I'm not even a religious person! Then again, neither was Verdi, yet the great humanist was able to put aside his anticlericalism and create an astonishing vision of a man finding redemption through faith. This has always been a Verdian specialty, scenes where private agonies clash with public responsibilities.Read more ›
And here we have that masterful Otello, Domingo, giving us a searing portrayal of Stiffelio. Devoted to his wife, he is soon torn by doubts, then faced with the undeniable reality of her adultery. Watching him try to cope with this unalterable fact is heartbreaking, frightening. Domingo perfectly embodies the disbelief, anguish and rage. Your typical Italian character would now feel quite justified in dispatching one or more people in revenge. But no! Stiffelio, the minister, must teach Stiffelio, the man, to find forgiveness in his heart (did Otello ever countenance such a thought!). A heart that, though wounded, still loves dearly. He learns a meekness that is most touching. These latter scenes touch rare emotional depths and it is almost unbearable to witness the broken couple's struggle through the aftermath. But in the end forgiveness does rise above the tragedy. An unusual, beautiful, powerful opera.
The production, sets and filming all serve the opera perfectly. This is one the most striking DVDs I have seen. The atmosphere is sober and traditional yet there is warmth and gaiety. Décor somewhat severe yet shot through with light. Regular and orderly but comfortable, even rich. Each set is simply stunning in its beauty and appropriateness.
This is a great performance, the sum rising to be even greater than its parts. Those parts themselves being great assets- Domingo, Levine, sets, everything just right... But Chernov as Stankar almost steals the show.Read more ›
A word should be said with regard to scenic design in this day of minimalism: the traditional approach here, measurably enhanced the power of the production as, it should be mentioned, did the costuming.
All in all, a very classy addition to the collections of opera on DVD.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great music. Placido was wonderful. James Levine and orchestra were fantastic as usual. Sharon Sweet was laboring so much between breaths that she screeched when she inhaled... Read morePublished 11 months ago by M. DEVERDI
Question to those familiar with this opera, or native Italian speakers ...
In Act 3 we have Stiffelio confronting his wife over her infidelity. Read more
I can't fathom how any production of Giuseppe Verdi's until-recently-underrated opera STIFFELIO could top this one, from the Metropolitan Opera in 1993. Read morePublished 13 months ago by N. De Sapio
Yes, this is the version that made me fall in love with the opera when I first saw it on "Live from the Met" some years ago. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Phyllis A. Karr
One word: boring. Domingo is superb. Sharon Sweet, unfortunately, does not belong to the age of DVD's, which requires looks as well as voice, but she was also superb. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Alfredo R. Villanueva
This is a traditionally staged, traditionally costumed and excellently sung performance. If anything negative could be said, it would be solely that Sharon Sweet, as Lina, is not... Read morePublished 18 months ago by G. Hungerford
Infrequently produced and probably overshadowed by the advent of the breakout three, Rigoletto, Traviata, and Trovatore, this is a must for the devotee. Read morePublished on October 13, 2013 by Noel B. Perlman
This opera belongs to the early Middle period (1850 - 1858), and was written just before the better known "Trilogy" of Rigoletto, La Traviata, and Il Trovatore. Read morePublished on December 11, 2012 by Guy B Baird
Verdi composed Stiffelio, to lyrics by Francesco Maria Piave, during his great middle period, the period of Rigoletto, Trovatore, and Triaviata. Read morePublished on May 31, 2010 by Robert E. Olsen
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