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DVD Review

A Musical Odyssey in St. Petersburg

  • Giuseppe Verdi:
  • Il Trovatore – "Ah! dove sei, crudele? … Mira, di acerbe lagrime .. Vivrà! … contende il giubilo" 1,2,5
  • Simon Boccanegra - "Favella il Doge ad Amelia Grimaldi? … Orfanella in tetto umile … Figlia! … a tal nome io palpito qual se m'aprisse i cieli" 1,2,5
  • Nikolai Medtner:
  • The Winter Evening (Zimniy vecher), Op. 13 #1 2,4
  • Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky:
  • Don Juan's Serenade (Serenada Don-Zhuana), Op. 38 #1 2,4
  • Eugene Onegin - "Oh! Kak mne tyazhelo? … Onegin! Ya togda molozhe" 1,5
  • Oprichnik - "Natasha's Aria" 1,5
  • Pique Dame - "Lisa's Aria" 1,5
  • Pique Dame - "Yeletzki's Aria" 2,5
  • At the Ball (Sned shumnovo bala), Op. 38 #3 1,2,5
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff:
  • Don't Sing to Me, Fair Maiden (Ne poy, krasavitsa, pri mne), Op. 4 #4 1,3
  • In the Silence of the Night (V molchani nochi taynoy), Op. 4 #3 1,3
  • Spring Waters (Vesenniye vodi), Op. 14 #11 1,3
  • Anton Rubinstein:
  • Nero - "Epitalama" (Poyu tebe, bog Gimeney) 2,4
  • Vincenzo Bellini:
  • Norma - "Casta Diva" 1,5
  • Ambroise Thomas:
  • Hamlet - "Hamlet's Drinking Song" (Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse) 2,4
1 Renée Fleming, soprano
2 Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone
3 Olga Kern, piano
4 Ivan Ilja, piano
5 State Hermitage Orchestra/Constantine Orbelian
Decca DVD 743383-6 112m DTS LPCM Stereo Anamorphic Widescreen
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This DVD is truly an odyssey of spectacular proportions that leaves one breathless with excitement not only at the music, but also with Renée Fleming's conducted tour of some of the most gorgeous sights of St. Petersburg. The whole idea is a concoction of Maestro Orbelian himself, so it is not surprising that all throughout the programme his face is a mirror of happiness and satisfaction.

The two protagonists are in mesmerizing form, and in the three duets from Act 4 of "Il Trovatore" (Mira di acerbe lacrime), Act 1 of "Simon Boccanegra" (Favella il Doge), both by Verdi, and the finale from Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" respectively, their singing has a staggering intensity that is overwhelming throughout.

They also bring the house down in their solo pieces, which are considerable in number. Hvorostovsky interprets arias from "Pique Dame" (Tchaikovsky), "Hamlet" (Thomas) and "Nero" (A. Rubinstein), while Fleming displays her versatility in pieces from "The Oprichnik" (Tchaikovsky), "Norma" (Bellini) and "Pique Dame" again. There is also a delightful section in the middle of the programme dedicated to songs by Rachmaninoff, Medtner and Tchaikovsky, where again both singers excel in the intimate atmosphere of the quite stunning surroundings of the Yusupov Palace Theatre. In this instance pianists Ivari Ilya and Olga Kern give sympathetic support.

Fleming's other chosen sights of the Winter Palace and the Peterhof Palace, where the rest of the concert was filmed, make compelling viewing, as do the Alexander Nevsky Monastery Cemetery and the Cathedral of Our Saviour of Spilled Blood. Awesome in every sense of the word. A magical treat from two of the world's greatest singers that leaves one yearning for more long after the embers of this fiery occasion have died down. Sound and visuals are of an immaculate quality. Strongly recommended.

Copyright © 2011, Gerald Fenech