Verdi-Otello (1973) (NTSC)

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Released 4-Jun-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Opera Booklet
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 139:38
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:22) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Herbert Von Karajan
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jon Vickers
Mirella Freni
Peter Glossop
Stefania Malagu
Aldo Bottion
Michel Senechal
Jose Van Dam
Mario Macchi
Case Flexbox
RPI $36.95 Music Giuseppe Verdi


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Audio Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Italian
English
German
French
Chinese
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I'm really not the best authority on opera and so I can't really give too much of an idea of what is going on in this rendition of Otello without sounding completely ignorant of the art, so I think it is best if I quote directly from the detailed booklet that comes with the disc to give you an idea of the synopsis;

    "Othello the Moor (Jon Vickers), of royal descent, made his career in the military service of the Venetian Republic and rose to the rank of commander-in-chief of the fleet. Defying convention, and in spite of her father's bitter opposition, he has married Desdemona (Mirella Freni), a senator's daughter; in the interests of the state the senate did not act to prevent the marriage, or to stop Desdemona following her husband to Cyprus. As naval commander, Othello was made governor of the island, a Venetian possession of immense strategic importance for the protection of the Republic's interests in the eastern Mediterranean, which has been under attack by the Turks. With the outcome of a crucial naval battle still unknown, however, the Senate has grown fearful of Othello's power. Without his knowledge the order has been given to recall him to Venice and appoint Cassio (Aldo Bottion), his young but meritorious second-in-command, governor in his place. At the very moment when Othello is winning a decisive victory over the Turkish fleet, a galley bearing the Doge's emissary is already on course to Cyprus."

    This particular presentation of Otello appears to have been a made-for-television staging of the opera, as it is filmed on quite impressive sound-stages complete with running water and model ships. There is no hint of an audience being present and you never get to see the orchestra performing. Made in 1973, the quality of video and audio is far better than I was expecting.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Despite the age of the source material, which is approaching thirty years old, this is a reasonable looking video transfer. A word of warning, though. It is presented in NTSC, so you'll need a display device capable of displaying it. This is nicely explained on the back cover in quite small print, but at least the wording leaves no doubt in anyone's mind about what sort of DVD Player and Display you need.

    Presented in a made-for-TV aspect of 1.33:1, it is obviously not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is as sharp as can be expected, given the nature and age of the source. There are no detail problems, shadow detail is nicely defined and grain is virtually non-existent. There is no trace of any low level noise.

    Being NTSC, the colours are nothing stunning, being quite pale at times, with little vibrancy. There are no problems evident though, which is always nice to see.

    I saw no MPEG artefact or  video artefacts. A very small number of minor video artefacts such as a white spot or two were evident but never obtrusive.

    Being an opera and sung in Italian, if you really want to keep abreast of what is going on, the English subtitles are a godsend. They are nicely presented and easy to read. Subtitles are also available in Italian, German, French, and Chinese.

    This is a dual layered disc with the layer change occurring at 68:22 right on the fade-to-black between Act Two and Act Three, about as perfectly placed as it could be and almost completely unnoticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio track on offer, this being a Linear PCM 2.0 soundtrack in Italian.

    The lyrics are certainly clear. Being Italian, I couldn't understand what was being sung but the lyrics are certainly prominent in the overall soundtrack. The orchestra gets pretty loud on occasions, but never drowns out the lyrics. There was a touch of audio sync trouble throughout, but being in a foreign language and being sung meant that this didn't seem to cause too many problems. This would appear to be a problem with the source material, and not an issue with the transfer itself.

    The music of Guiseppe Verdi as performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is certainly the highlight. At times a whisper and at others a full scale roar that booms from the main speakers, this is a track that requires the volume turned up a few notches to fully appreciate it.

    There is no surround channel use. There is also no discrete subwoofer use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Booklet

    A fairly detailed booklet (25 pages) that lists the cast, summarises the opera and then provides a breakdown act by act of what is occurring. It has this information repeated in English, Italian, German, and French.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    I can't find any reference to this in Region 1, but with this being an NTSC Region 0 title, I assume it will be the same the world over.

Summary

    I must admit that I did struggle to get through this in one sitting. This is the first opera I have ever seen complete and have to admit it didn't do a great deal to inspire me, though I will again repeat that I am not much of an expert on the subject.

    The video, despite being made for television and nearing thirty years of age, was far better than I was expecting.

    The audio is the highlight, with the orchestral music bold and dynamic.

    The extras are virtually non-existent except for the detailed booklet.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Thursday, May 23, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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