MAHLER: Symphony No. 7 in E minor "Song of the Night"
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly, cond.
ACCENTUS DVD 10309 TT: 75:15

VERDI: Ernaniu
Ramón Vargas (Ernani). Ludovic Tézier (Don Carlo). Svetla Vassilieva (Elvira). Alexander Vinogradov (Silva). Maurizio Pace (Don Riccardo). Monte Carlo Chorus abd Orchestra / Daniele Callegari

VERDI: La traviata
Olga Peretyatko (Violetta). Ataila Ayan (Alfredo). Simone Piazzola (Germont). Christina Daletska (Flora). Balthasar-Neumann Chorus and Ensemble / Pablo Heras-Casado, cond.
C MAJOR DVD TT: 139 min.

Riccardo Chailly is one of today's finest interpreters of music of Gustav Mahler. While Music Director of the Royal Concertgebouw, he recorded all of the symphonies for Decca, and now that he holds that position with the Leipzig Orchestra he is recording them again, this time for video. This site already has praised his videos of Symphonies 2 and 8 (REVIEW), 5 (REVIEW) and 6 (REVIEW). He continues now with this magnificent account of the problematic Symphony No. 7, recorded during performances February 27/28 and March 2, 2014. This is a near-definitive performance. Orchestral playing is first-rate, video always seems to be in the right place. Of particular interest is the sonic quality The engineers have captured the orchestra with uncommon beauty and natural ambience. This is a feast for the audiophile.

Verdi's early opera Ernani was one of his first full-bodied masterpieces, filled with dramatic arias and scenes to challenge performers and excite audiences. It should not be presented unless top-notch singers are available. The Met chose it for a 1985 Live from the Met telecast, starring Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes, Leona Mitchell and Ruggiero Raimondi, with James Levine conducting. It was a great night at the opera, and is available on DVD (IREVIEW). This new version from Monte-Carlo Opera in 2015, is respectable vocally. Ramón Vargas, towards the end of his career, lacks the vocal security of the past, and Svetla Vasilieva is taxed buy her big opening aria. Sets and costumes are sensible and appropriate. This surely is a pleasant, if not a great, night at the opera. Video and audio are excellent. Check other available videos, not to mention audio recordings by great singers of the past.

This site has mentioned many videos of La traviata, particularly the remarkable Anna Moffo 1968 Italian TV version (REVIEW). There are numerous videos of this opera, and this new one from Germany's Festspielhaus Baden-Baden May 2015 offers minimal competition. This is directed by Rolando Villazón with sets by Johannes Leiacker and costumes by Thibault Vancraenbroeck. Before the opera begins, we see a coughing Violetta crawling over the stage to a music box which she opens and listens to while fondling some jewels - and coughing. There is plentiful action on stage during particularly during act one, and the garish costumes portray a wild party scene, with a ballerina suspended from a trapeze. Russian soprano Olga Peretyatko has appeared in many major opera houses to great acclaim, but in this production she is challenged by the coloratura, with pitch problems as well. Visually this is outstanding, audio is satisfactory, but this is not a memorable presentation of Verdi's masterpiece.

believer of a conductor who understands early Verdi and put them together with a refreshingly traditional production. No Elvira walking around in leather miniskirt and fishnets brandishing a whip, or an Ernani who communicates with his fellow bandits via laptop and cellphone. It’s a prepossessing staging that employs an overhead mirror and warlike statuary and obscurant curtains and period-accurate costumes to good effect. The only weak point is the final act that looks rather cheap, even tacky, but given the overall quality of the production that’s easily forgiven.

dvd133 Admirers of the late Luciano Pavarotti will wish to investigate this issue of a Metropolitan Opera performance taped in December 1983 for the Live From The Met series. He was at his best, and throughout the casting is luxurious including Leona Mitchell in her prime, Sherrill Milnes and Ruggero Raimondi. Pier Luigi Samaritani's sets and Peter J. Hall's costumes reflect 16th century Spain and, fortunately, we do not have to endure directing/design excesses so common in today's opera houses. Video quality is excellent, as is sonic quality although not 5.1.

R.E.B.(January 2018)