Belcanto D'Amore


Belcanto D'Amore five opera box. In English, this title means Beautiful Song of Love or Beautiful Love Song. Four of the operas are by Verdi, and Madama Butterfly is by Puccini. (So this title is not connected to "belcanto" operas written by composers like Bellini and Donizetti.) Each of the operas is on an HDVD previously published by C Major to be purchased separately. Here are the individual titles included (alphabetical order):

1. Aida. This was recorded in 2009 at the outdoor Lake Stage of the Bregenzer Festival. People who go to the Lake Stage productions (literally over and under water) like this sort of extravaganza, which is made of equal parts of Cirque du Soleil, Eurotrash, Eurosplash, and anti-Americanism.  I gave it a "D" grade --- it's hard to do an outdoor show for 6,500 people that will look and sound good in a film made with HD cameras (which don't like to get wet).

2. Madama Butterfly by Puccini. This was also performed in 2009 outdoors at the Arena Sferisterio in Macerata, Italy. This is the best outdoor opera film I have seen. Pier Luigi Pizzi managed to come up with a set that was beautiful in the flesh and also in HDVD pictures. The music, directing, and acting is excellent. Raffaella Angeletti plays Cio-Cio-San (or Butterfly) all over the world and is acceptable on a stage. But her age and (please forgive me, but I have to tell the truth) bad teeth work against her in HDVD images. I gave this a "B" grade.

3. Rigoletto. This was produced and recorded in 2008 at the Teatro Regio di Parma Verdi Festival. Even though Parma has only about 200,000 inhabitants, its opera house is one of the most important in Italy. I haven't seen this, but critics liked it and the customer reviews on have been extremely favorable. So my hunch would be that this is probably an "A" grade title.

4. Traviata. Another outdoor show, this time at the Arena di Verona. I haven't seen this, nor have I seen any thorough review by a critic. But after surfing around I now have a hunch that this is a ""C+" or "B" title which uses giant picture frames to try to cope with the ugly stage in Verona.

5. Turandot. This was shot in 2008 at the Valencia opera house.  I watched this 3 or 4 times and gave it an "A."

So this box has 2 "A" titles, 2 "C to B" titles, and one "D." Right now, lists this box at 50 Euros. They list the individual discs from 25 to 35 Euros. So if any two of these titles interest you, you get 3 more titles for nothing.

But on the other hand, this box has 2 solid productions done in top opera houses and 3 outdoor shows that are inherently inferior to the real thing. If you are a newcomer seeking an introduction to opera in the home theater, you should focus on quality, not price. Right now on you can get a B+ Arthaus Rigoletto for 5 Euros and  a B+ Arthaus Traviata for 11 Euros, both best-sellers performed in top opera houses. Then use the rest of your budget to buy any "A" title you want. Viewed this way, the Belcanto D'Amore box is not a show-stopper.