Attila [2001/I]

A brilliant production has been lavished on this relatively early and seldom-produced Verdi masterpiece. The story of various efforts (ultimately successful) to assassinate Attila the Hun after his conquest of Rome inspired Verdi to compose music of considerable energy. The theme of foreign powers who dominate Italy being punished was especially close to his heart. La Scala assembled a cast equal to his music's strenuous demands. The star, unquestionably, is Samuel Ramey in the title role, but he is supported by a first-class cast and a chorus and orchestra who are completely at home in this music. The fact that some of the less familiar Italian operas reached the DVD format so early in its existence is a tribute to Muti's devotion to unjustly neglected works. So is the power and precision of this performance. --Joe McLellan

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