DONIZETTI: The Elixir of Love (1991), complete opera

by | Sep 1, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

DONIZETTI: The Elixir of Love (1991)

Kathleen Battle, Luciano Pavarotti, Juan Pons and Enzo Dara
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, James Levine, conductor
Studio: Deutsche Grammophon GmbH
Video: 4:3 fullscreen color
Audio: DD 5.1 surround, DTS 5.1 surround, PCM 2.0 stereo
Extras: Trailer, Picture Gallery
Length: 128 minutes
Rating: ***1/2

This new disc from DGG of Donizetti’s classic two act light opera dates
from 1991, and while the recording and picture quality may show their
age a bit, it’s nonetheless a compelling watch. The picture is a bit
soft – most likely due to it’s vintage, but even worse – it’s only
fullscreen, albeit a minor disappointment in this otherwise widescreen
world. The audio is surround derived from the PCM original using a
system the Emil Berliner labs calls AMSI II – the end results are
pretty good, but sometimes the surround spread seemed more than a
little stretched. Switching between audio tracks, however, yielded very
little improvement – the audio portion sounded just as ho-hum in stereo
as it did in the quasi-surround.

The real reason to own this disc is for the superb performances. While
Pavarotti is merely excellent in his role as Nemorino, Kathleen Battle
gives a near-legendary performance as the coquettish Adina – she’s in
absolutely peak form, and shows what an amazing soprano and brilliant
operatic actress she was in her glory days at the Met. Even with the
sub-par audio and compressed video, I just slathered at her every
action on stage! Her performance alone is worth the price of admission
here, and the entire ensemble gives a bravura effort. This one’s a
keeper, warts and all.

— Tom Gibbs 

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