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Renato Bruson — Live in Concert
23 Jun 2006

Renato Bruson — Live in Concert

One sign that a media market has really come into its own, economically speaking, is the appearance of items previously released in other formats, items that one struggles to imagine a wide market for. DVDs must be doing fairly well, then, in the classical market.

Renato Bruson — Live in Concert

Renato Bruson, Orchestra della Radiotelevisione della Svizzera Italiana, Bruno Amaducci (cond.)
Recorded live in Lugano (Switzerland), Palazzo dei Congressi June 22, 1983

Fabula 29911 [DVD]

$25.00  Click to buy

Here we have a release from a company called "Fabula Classics" of a 60 minute recital from 1983, with Renato Bruson singing 6 arias (mostly Verdi, with 2 by Donizetti)  and the Swiss-Italian Radio orchestra performing the Barbieri di Siviglia sinfonia and the intermezzos from Manon Lescaut and  I Pagliacci.

Undoubtedly, Renato Bruson deserves to have a record of his singing at the peak of his career preserved. He has been one of the sturdiest, most skilled of baritones, especially in the Italian repertory. This particular recital, as filmed, doesn't do him justice.

First, the source film hasn't been improved by the transfer to DVD. The video comes across as washed out, except for the brilliant blue of the hall's seats (and it doesn't seem to have been a sell-out, considering the scattered empty seats). Second, the camera work can serve as a standard for perfunctory direction. Bruson enters for an aria, acknowledges the audience, which is shown applauding, then the conductor waits for a nod from the singer before giving the downbeat. The aria then features close-up of the singer, then a stage view, alternating occasionally with a pan of the musicians. The crowd shows up again at aria's end, to applaud Bruson before he exits. Repeat 6 times.

With a singer of Bruson's talent, no recital would be without some distinction. He begins with a rarity from Donizetti's La Favorita, "Vien Leonora," and after "Di Provenza," features "Atanto amor" from the same opera. In this relatively unfamiliar music, Bruson offers style and masculine tone. However, by this third aria of the recital, a certain sameness of technique and approach also makes itself felt, and that sense lingers through Iago's credo, an aria from I Vespri Siciliani's Monforte ("In braccio alle dovizie") and Rodrigo's death scene.The hall's acoustic, or the placement of the microphones, also has the voice a bit too up front, with an unpleasant fuzziness to Bruson's louder singing, especially at high notes.

The booklet essay, by Arrigo Quattrocchi, has some insightful comments about Bruson's career. Not all those comments, unfortunately, are borne out by the recital. More of Bruson's "beautiful, burnished sound" would especially have been appreciated. That essay appears in four languages, and then the aria's texts are printed in Italian. The DVD does not offer subtitles in any language.

Conductor Bruno Amaducci leads the Swiss-Italian radio Orchestra in the effective, if not exciting, instrumental selections.

All singers have fans eager to own every produced featuring their favorites. Only for Bruson fans can this DVD be recommended.

Chris Mullins
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy

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