Conductor and pianist James Levine is one of the powerhouse figures of the classical music scene today. As a child he undertook both piano and violin; he was so accomplished on the violin that at the age of ten he played Mendelssohn's second violin concerto at a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra youth concert. He studied piano at various summer music festivals before enrolling at New York's Juilliard School, where he took conducting courses with Jean Morel and continued piano studies with Rosina Lhevinne.
Giovanna d’Arco is based on Friedrich Schiller’s tragedy The Maid of Orleans and deals with the life of Joan of Arc. But Verdi and his librettist Temistocle Solera departed from both Schiller and historical fact by turning Joan’s father into the opera’s powerful antagonist. Ever since its first performance in Milan in 1845, Giovanna d’Arco has been admired and loved for its emotionally affecting arias and thrilling choral writing.
Stage and television director Werner Herzog, one of the most highly acclaimed German film makers of all time, joins forces with the great Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly to effect a masterful rendition of this rarely-performed opera involving spectacular scenes of alternating light and dark, pageantry and intimacy. The production is further complemented by the great Italian baritone Renato Bruson as Giacomo, the American soprano Susan Dunn as Giovanna and the outstanding tenor Vincenzo La Scola as the Dauphin. The magnificent Teatro Comunale di Bologna provides an intimate yet ornate setting for this production of Verdi's seventh opera, the story of the Maid of Orleans.
Giuseppe Verdi was born in the little town of Roncole in the vicinity of Parma and spent the longest period of his life in seclusion close to Parma. He died in Milan in 1901. Today, the region of Parma honours its one-time fellow citizen with the international Verdi Festival organized by the Teatro Regio di Parma. Every year, Verdi’s masterworks are performed in the historical theatres of Parma and neighbouring Busseto over 28 days in the autumn…
This is a definitive performance of Verdi's great opera based on Shakespeare's play. Del Monaco rises to artistic heights with Karajan's superb support. There is much subtle singing from him as well as the stentorian power he is known for. Tebaldi is unmatched as Desdemona. The RCA recording with Serafin is good with a gripping performance by Vickers and Rysanek but the Rome Opera Orchestra is not at the same high level as Karajan's Wiener Philharmoniker. - from Amazon.com