VERDI: La forza del Destino
Montserrat Caballé (Leonora); Giovanni Foiana (Marchese di Calatrava); Piero Cappuccilli (Don Carlo di Vargas); José Carreras (Don Alvaro); Maria Luisa Nave (Preziosilla); Nicolai Ghiaurov (Padre Guardiano); Sesto Bruscantini (Fra Malitone); Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala/Giuseppe Patané, cond.
HARDY CLASSICS VIDEO DVD HCD 4046 (2 disks) TT: 192 min.
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GREAT STARS OF RUSSIAN BALLET - Volume I (Historic performances 1971-1983)
Excerpts from La Bayadère, Swan Lake, La Esmeralda, Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle and Le Corsaire; The Dying Swan, Mazurka, Melody, Narcissus and Echo, Legend of Love
Dancers: Maya Plisetskaya, Ekaterina Maximova, Marina Kondratiyev, Maris Liepa, Nadezhda Pavlova, Vyacheslav Gordeeev, Vladimir Vasiliev, Tatyana Terekhova, Nikolay Kovmir, Nina Timofeeva, Alexander Godunov, Lyudmila Semenyaka, Alexander Bogatirev, Tatyana Tayakina, Margarita Drozdova, Vladimir Teleev, and Valery Kovtun
VIDEO ARTISTS INTERNATIONAL DVD 4530 TT: 95 min.
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GREAT STARS OF RUSSIAN BALLET - Volume II (Historic performances 1955-1991)
Excerpts from The Sleeping Beauty, Icarus, La Esmeralda, Giselle, Faust, Romeo anbd Juliet, Swan Lake, Raymonda, La Sylphide, and Don Quixote; La Rose Malade, The Flower Festival in Genzano, and Angara River.
Dancers: Maya Plisetskaya, Ekaterina Maximova, Vladimir Vasiliev, Nina Timofeeva, Yuri Vladimirov, Lyudmila Semenyaka, Mikhail Lavrovsky, Shamil Yagoudin, Stanislav Vlasov, Valery Kovtun, Galina Ulanova, Yuri Zhdanov, Natalia Bessmertnova, Alexander Bogatirev, Irina Kolpakova, Vadim Semenov, Tatyana Tayakina, Valery Kovtun, Sergei Berezhnoy, Boris Akimov, Larisa Trembovelskaya, Lyudmila Vasilieva, and Ilgiz Galimullin
VIDEO ARTISTS INTERNATIONAL DVD 4531 TT: 93 min.
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June 7, 1978 was a special nite at LaScala, a presentation of La forza del destino with a fabulous cast that would be impossible to match today. Montserrat Caballé is in her prime in this impeccable performance, and a very young José Carreras gives his all—and more, in one of his most exciting performances. The opera is given complete, with acceptable sets by Renato Guttuso. Unfortunately, the stage is usually dark, which presented problems for the TV crew—they couldn't cope with this and often the screen is dark and undefined. The 2-channel sound is better than the artificial induced multi-channel. Subtitle are available in four languages. This is among the finest recorded versions of this opera—don't miss it! Caballé and Carreras are pure magic.

Video Artists International is a valued source of historic and unusual movies, both operatic and balletic. This site already has mentioned their superb releases of the ballets Spartacus (REVIEW), Raymonda (REVIEW), The Seagull (REVIEW), and Carmen (REVIEW) to mention only a few. Now we are indebted to them once again for these two disks of historic performances from 1955 to 1991. Many of the dancers will be new to collectors, and much of the music as well. The ballets Icarus (music by Slonimsky), Angara River (music by Eshpai), The Flower Festival in Genzano (music by Helsted), and several others are hardly household names. The the performances are stunning. All of these seem to be filmed under studio conditions without audience, with limited sets. Video and audio are dated but always sufficiently good to convey the fabulous dancing. These are important issues for all balletomanes, and —good news!—it has been announced there are two more DVDs in this historic series soon to be issued.

R.E.B. (June 2011)

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