7 February 2019 | clanciai
A colourful opera cavalcade through the 19th century
This is a film for opera lovers but for such an indispensable gem. It tells the story of the music publishing house of Ricordi through three generations, from 1807 and Napoleonic times to Puccini's 'La Bohème'. They are all there - Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, Puccini and even Zandonai, with their lovers and successes and crises and tragedies - it's a gefundenes Fressen for any lover of any opera, while on the other hand people not familiar with the world of opera will hardly get much out of it, in spite of the great scenography, the marvellous colours, the many dramatic scenes and the splendid ladies. This is a sequel to the great opera film "Puccini" the year before, and the same Puccini actor is Puccini here, and also his wife Elvira (Marta Toren) is here Rossini's mistress Isabella.
There are quite a few very memorable scenes here. Focus is on major turning points in the lives of the different composers. Rossini comes first with the hilarious account of how his "Barber of Seville" first was a tremendous failure but turned to the greatest success of the century. Marcello Mastroianni is not quite the type for Gaetano Donizetti, but nevertheless there are some marvellous scenes with his "Elixir of Love". Vincenzo Bellini (Maurice Ronet) is given a very traumatic and melodramatic death scene, and then there is Verdi, caught up in the struggle for Italy's independence, but the following chapter of his is more interesting. After 'Aida' and his Requiem he decided never to compose anything again, he was sick and tired of the struggle and rivalry with Wagner, and he tried to retire completely, but was nevertheless coaxed back to write another opera or two in his old age, 'Otello' being the first, and its final scene is included. Then there is Puccini who finds a real Mimi in Paris, and there is another gripping death scene.
On the whole, this is great music film focused on Italian opera and definitely one of the best.