Arrigo Boito: Mefistofele

Rating: 
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The season kicks off with Boitos resplendent retelling of Goethes Faust, a monumental work of ""choral grandeur and melodic richness"" (The New York Times) in one of the most impressive productions ever seen at the War Memorial Opera House. The cast includes Ramón Vargas, a tenor ""in ravishing voice"" (Financial Times), as the philosopher who sells his soul to the Devil; the ""luminous, compelling"" Patricia Racette (Washington Post) as the woman he desires; and, in the vividly menacing title role, the ""seductively malevolent"" bass-baritone Ildar Abdrazakov, a ""fullbodied bass-baritone"" renowned for his ""wonderfully evil portrayals"" (The New York Times).

Product Details

  • Actors: San Francisco Opera, Patricia Racette, Nicola Luisotti, Ildar Abdrazakov, Ramón Vargas
  • Directors: Frank Zamacona
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English, German, French, Italian, Korean
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR Not Rated
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • DVD Release Date: September 30, 2014
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • ASIN: B00MU00G9S

Customer Reviews

Not a new production but a touched up revival of the first rate original from several decades ago.

23 people found this helpful.
 on October 18, 2014
By RENS
This is a lightly polished revival of the San Francisco production of several decades ago. [Kultur DVD, still available, full screen, not HD] It was an excellent production then and so it is now. The crowd scenes have been more carefully rehearsed and staged, the orchestra plays better and with greater energy this time around, and the witches sabbath has been jazzed up with more and better movements for the chorus members and with more bare flesh exposed. For those who may be interested or concerned, for whatever reasons, the nudity is appropriate but actually neither particularly shocking or delightful. On the back of the package, there appears in small print the statement: “This production contains real and simulated nudity.” There, now that topic is out of the way.

The devil is in the details

12 people found this helpful.
 on November 19, 2014
By Blu-ray Bill
Gounod’s “Faust” is undoubtedly the best-known operatic adaptation of Goethe’s famous story, although its popularity is not what it once was. Personally, I’ve always preferred Boito’s “Mefistofele.” As the 

The production is better than the opera

4 people found this helpful.
 on January 19, 2015
By Dr. John W. Rippon
That Arrigo Boito was of great intellectual capacity is attested to by his work for Verdi. He was instrumental in forming and creating the librettos for the last two of Verdi’s superb masterpieces and helped to revise and reform several other of Verdi’s mature works. On his own he wrote several librettos of promise but his muse of music composition failed him. I have familiarity with two of these: Mefistofele and Nerone. Mefistofele is a hodge podge with a great Prologue and Nerone is again an eclectic muddle with one moving scene – that of Rubria’s death. Goethe’s Faust legend has not been well served in it’s several operatic treatments.

Splendid Devil

10 people found this helpful.
 on October 21, 2014
By Roberto Torretti
This is a clever and, in some scenes, luxurious staging of this curious opera, which, though not exactly beautiful, deserves being better known. Ildar Abdazakov in the title role is splendid throughout: witty, ironic, wicked, with full command of the scene. Patricia Racette movingly sings and acts Margherita’s role in Act III, and then, with almost incredible versatility, turns into a magnificently regal and tragic Helena in Act IV. On the other hand, though Ramón Vargas is a first-rate tenor, who sings the Faust part with flying colors, dressed in a white frock-coat he looks more like a successful grocer than like a skeptical and mildly depraved intellectual whose flesh is sad after reading all books. Maybe it is because as a Spanish American I am too familiar with his body language, but the fact is that I have some difficulty in realizing that he impersonates Goethe’s hero. I admit that Jonas Kaufmann, who was cast as Faust in a recent recording of Gounod’s opera, goes perhaps a bit too far in the opposite direction; but still, his physical presence is much what a senescent scholar would like to get if he sells his soul to the Devil.

Sets a new standard for opera on DVD

3 people found this helpful.
 on September 29, 2015
By David McKee
It’s a good thing that Robert Carsen’s well-traveled production A) was chosen for videotaping and B) Blu-Ray had been invented in time to capture. The richness of color and subtle tints of Michael Levine’s set designs provide a visual feast that few operas on DVD can rival, let alone match. Carsen’s staging, put through its paces by revival director Laurie Feldman, is as fresh now as it was in 1990, when it was new and PBS filmed Samuel Ramey, Gabriela Benackova and Dennis O’Neill in the principal roles. The current protagonists need make no apologies. Ildar Azdrabakov’s Mefistofele owns a blacker, deeper tone than Ramey and if there’s an occasional hint of Boris Christoff in his interpretation, it’s all to the good. He makes a sufficiently entertaining devil on his own terms as to render comparisons with Ramey moot.

Good but not the best

2 people found this helpful.
 on February 22, 2015
By Dr. J. J. Kregarman
Sound and picture quality are excellent, but I preferred Ramey’s Mefistofele and Arena’s conducting on the older San Francisco Opera DVD on Kultur. Abdrazakov gives a robust, active performance, but Samuel Ramey is just chillingly evil. Otherwise this is a fine presentation of the opera and is certainly worth hearing and viewing.

Great production.

 on February 22, 2015
By Bryan D. Batten
Love it. Did not realise the opera is a tragi-comedy? Great bass, very good cast generally, but what an excellent chorus that can blast you out of any revery. Not sure all will enjoy some of the risque bachinal, but I suppose it is a vision of what might be “down there?” I ahve the CD version with Pavarotti which I play often but never envisioned it is so humerous, and, unlike most tragic type themes, has a “happy ending.”

An amazing production

 on March 19, 2015
By Robert J. Roxby
I saw a performance of this production in the 1990’s and again, this one last year. I love the production and the opera as well and am happy to have this DVD to revive memories. Some people have a preference for one of the DVD’s of this production over the other, but I don’t. It’s just different, not better or worse.

he was the best mefisto I have ever seen or heard since siepi

One person found this helpful.
 on November 25, 2014
By donald t. halverson
he was the best mefisto I have ever seen or heard since siepi, it was worth it just to watch and listen to his performance.

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