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Verdi - Stiffelio

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Placido Domingo, Sharon Sweet, Vladimir Chernov, and Paul Plishka star in this Metropolitan Opera production of the Verdi opera conducted by James Levine.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Placido Domingo, Sharon Sweet, Vladimir Chernov, Paul Plishka, James Levine
  • Directors: Brian Large
  • Writers: Giuseppe Verdi, Francesco Maria Piave
  • Producers: Giancarlo del Monaco, The Metropolitan Opera
  • Format: Multiple Formats, NTSC, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled
  • Language: Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1), Italian (DTS 5.1), Italian (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Chinese
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
  • DVD Release Date: July 10, 2007
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000MGB3EE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,696 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Verdi - Stiffelio" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. Boerger on July 16, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Stiffelio is a GREAT opera. Lost for close to a century, it has been slow in making its way into the standard repertoire, but productions such as this one should further its cause as well as its reputation. This is frankly one of the best opera productions I've ever seen. Every facet is top of the line, from the orchestra to the singers to the stage production to the video direction. Prepare to be overwhelmed. And, if you've never seen or heard Stiffelio before, prepare to welcome a new opera into the canon of Verdi masterpieces.

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.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This 1993 production on DVD introduced me to the greatness that is Stiffelio, now numbered among my most favorite operas. Its tunes can be as irresistible as any but this is a piece of dramatic theater in the line of Otello.
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.
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I have nothing to add to the extensive main review but wish only to join with the second in expressing my own novice's enthusiastic response to this production. Whether or not this is considered major or minor Verdi, the Met proved that it is an opera that can stir deeper emotions and speak to the complexities of human responses. As pointed out by the others, Domingo, Sweet and Chernov, in the lead roles, were simply outstanding both in song and action, the supporting cast did all that could be asked of them, Levine and the Met orchestra demonstrated the success of the conductor's effort to make it among the best in the world, the video production was excellent.
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.
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Stiffelio (reworked as the later Aroldo) was Verdi's 16th opera (after Luisa Miller and before Rigoletto) and dates from 1850. It disappeared from the stage for a century after Verdi withdrew it in 1856. It's early history was checkered due to the interference of the censors, and so what the opening night audience in Trieste saw was quite different from what you see on this DVD, which is much closer to Verdi's initial intent, thanks to the discovery of the original score (thought to be lost) in 1993. In the Italy of the Austrian Empire, a married priest with an adulteress wife was a non sequitor, and not to be condoned by the censors. So the story as we see it now never made it the stage in Trieste. Thus, this DVD records the first major production after the original score was discovered, and it is a beautiful production. The singers, Domingo as Stiffelio, Sharon Sweet as his wife Lina, Vladimir Chernov as her father, Col. Stankar, and Paul Plishka as Jorg, make a good ensemble, supported brilliantly by the Met Orchestra conducted by James Levine. Domingo was still in his prime and is very good throughout. Paul Plishka is ever-reliable as the cleric Jorg, but Chernov really stands out in this performance (it helps that he gets some of the best music). I was not previously familiar with him, but he is simply outstanding. I cannot say the same for Sharon Sweet, who has lovely lower and middle registers, but her top end too often teeters perilously close to unmusical shrieking. Her singing is the only reason I did not give this DVD 5 stars. The music is excellent throughout and typical for middle Verdi, and it is clear he is moving beyond the conventions of bel canto.Read more ›
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