24 May 2002 | Viajante
A WONDERFUL TOUR THROUGH 19TH CENTURY ITALIAN OPERA
Being an "oriundo", that is, of Italian ascendance, I was taken as a boy to watch this movie by my parents who were extremely fond of any kind of music -- and of Italian music most of all. I thought that the movie was beautiful but not so interesting, at least for a child of 9 or 10 as I was then. However, I had the good fortune of watching this movie again as a grown-up at a special showing, and what a revelation it was! What seemed only beautiful back then was now not only quite interesting too but, on top of that, also a very delightful way of being introduced to (or renewing your contact with) the endless magic of the world of opera. The movie tells us in rich detail how in 1807, in Milano, Giovanni Ricordi made a deal with the Teatro La Scala to print all the music sheet for them, in exchange for the handwritten works of whichever composer and musician hired by the Theater.
Lovingly directed by Carmine Gallone, who was originally an opera director, the movie shows us how the musical dynasty of the Casa Ricordi Publishers was born, and the amazing quantity of talent this organization worked with: Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, and so on. The best moment for me is the staging of the "La Calunnia" aria with the great Tito Gobbi as the playback singer, where Gallone combines both operatic and movie effects to convey the idea that "slandering is a little wind that builds up to a terrible storm to destroy lives and reputations".
It is worth mentioning as well that art director Mario Garbuglia and cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno managed to create a real feast for the eyes with their work in this movie. I've been trying to get a copy of it to no avail for decades now. When is it going to be released on DVD? It is imperative that it comes with subtitles in Italian so we opera lovers can best appreciate all the flavor of the original lyrics, please. It's about time someone gives us this neglected gem on DVD...