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Alfano Cyrano de Bergerac

Cyrano: Plácido Domingo, tenor
Roxane: Sondra Radvanovsky
, soprano
Christian: Arturo Chacón-Cruz, tenor
La dueña/Sor Marthe: Itxaro Mentxaka, mezzosoprano
Lise: Silvia Vázquez, soprano
De Guiche: Rod Gilfry, baritone
Carbon: Javier Franco, baritone
Ragueneau: Carmelo Corrado Caruso, baritone
Le Bret: Nahuel di Pierro, bass
De Valvert: Roberto Accurso, baritone
Un ufficiale spagnolo: Rubén Belmonte, baritone

Regia/scene Michal Znaniecki
Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana/Patrick Fournillier

Sung in French with French/English subtitles.

Naxos opera DVD - 2110270 - filmed in Valencia, February 2007 (DVD Video £24.50)

Naxos has latterly branched out into opera DVDs and this has one been received together with a controversial Berlioz Benvenuto Cellini, which we have greatly enjoyed.

It is the second recent DVD of Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac which was long eclipsed but has enjoyed a revival of interest. The opera benefits from the great strength of its Edmund Rostand story, capably turned into a libretto by Henri Cain. Very much the tenor’s opera, Placido Domingo took it up with great success at the end of his singing career. For the performances here filmed, Polish producer and set designer Michal Znaniecki came up with a new production in record time, with a round stage set on a revolve, modified variously as e.g. terraces for the public of the Hôtel de Bourgogne (first act) or as a battlefield turret (third act).

Plácido Domingo, in the one-hundred-and-twenty-first role of his career, is "impassioned and still more convincing that any of his young rivals in the second act duet and moving in the death scene". Sondra Radvanovsky provides an intense Roxane and Patrick Fournillier grasps every nuance of the refined score, the sonorities of which – much more French than Italian – were perfectly rendered by the newly formed Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana. [Opera Today]

With those comments, about the live performance, I agree. But regrettably, for a lot of the time the balance on the DVD favours the voices unduly at the expense of the orchestra, which sometimes nearly disappears into the background; a significant reservation to recommending it. However, Opera Today warns also that in Alagna's rival version "- - the English translations are so clumsy - - it sounds as if the job was done by a computer."

So maybe it is a case for sampling before you purchase, but I think the performances of Domingo and Radvanovsky will win you over - there is a clip from the Epilogue on YouTube .

On the Naxos Benvenuto Cellini, warmly recommended, it is noteworthy that when two singers are in action together, subtitles are given on two lines, one above the other. That is less cluttering or distracting than you might expect. Is it beyond the skills of DVD editing teams to increase viewing options to include translations and original language texts to appear simultaneously on screen? This would be a real step forward, similar to having parallel text and translations in CD insert booklets...

Trawling the reviews on line, I wonder if the best combination might not be the Domingo on DVD with Alagna on CD ?

Peter Grahame Woolf