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Penguin Guide, January 2009

The DVD of Gounod’s Shakespearean opera, cut down to 70 minutes for the purposes of television, should not be confused with the EMI CDs, though the two principals equally demonstrate that this is a favourite opera of theirs in warmly expressive singing and sympathetic acting. The film was shot at the atmospheric Gothic castle of Zvikov in the Czech Republic, beautifully set beside a lake. The singers were recorded in the helpful acoustic of the Rudolfinum in Prague, and for the film Gheorghiu and Alagna mime their parts, while the other roles are mimed by Czech actors. The drastic cutting—much played down in the notes—means that each of the five Acts is reduced to 12 minutes or less, with Act III shortened simply to the finale. Rightly, the duetting between the two lovers takes up the greater part of the film, and there the exotic setting enhances the impact of the performance, with Anton Guadagno the sympathetic conductor.

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