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Robert Maxham
Fanfare, July 2012

…Paganini spins a web of illusion skillfully, with Antonio Theba looking quite a bit like his subject, although less grotesque. Teresa Stratas, who looks perhaps just too Mediterranean for her role, has fewer opportunities to display the kind of fiery passion that she can conjure so convincingly, but she’s lilting in her musical role and as beguiling as usual in her histrionic one; she and Theba take ownership of the piece. It all seems to work dramatically.

Paganini has been caricatured in three movies of which I’m aware. The first, The Magic Bow, based on Manuel Komroff’s novel, seems laughable when Yehudi Menuhin isn’t dubbing for Stewart Granger. There’s Kinski Paganini (with violin music played by Salvatore Accardo), which lurches from pornography to grotesquerie. And then, easily the best of them, there’s Paganini, which, with its sumptuous score (warmly chromatic and lushly orchestrated, if not so tightly packed with Lehár’s most winning melody), witty dialog, and amusing portrayal of court machinations, makes an elegantly sophisticated…entertainment. Antonio Theba looks very well prepared in the violin solos, several of which he appears to be playing with no possibility of someone hiding above, behind, or beside him—he had to learn those movements precisely and well, and he did. The violin solos themselves capture through a gel lens, as they must necessarily in such a confection…

The movie is in standard format and PCM stereo, with no regional coding, and German, English, and French subtitles. It’s The Music Man adapted for musically informed audiences, and everybody who loves the violin should be delighted to have it available. Urgently recommended. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Frank Behrens
Art Times, June 2012

The slight plot involves the philandering of the great violinist Paganini (Antonio Theba) and his love affair with Napoleon’s sister Princess Anna Elisa (Teresa Stratas), during which he finds time for Bella Giretti (Dagmar Koller). She, in turn, is being pursued by the comical Pimpinelli (Peter Kraus) and being the mistress of Prince Felice (Johannes Heesters).

And there is lots of passionate music, with one or two comic duets to vary the tone, and lots of violin solos. In fact, Paganini has more to sing, to my knowledge, than any other character in an operetta. The music is lush…the production lavish. © 2012 Art Times Read complete review

Ian Lace
MusicWeb International, May 2012

This film version of Paganini is a very creditable stab at a glittering operetta allowing us to appreciate a wider view of hunting tableaux, village fetes, casinos, bedchambers and glamorous ballroom scenes with dashing hussar uniforms and gorgeous empire line ball gowns. The colour film and sound recording, from 1973, are very good.

Paganini’s luscious melodies include: ‘Girls were Made to Love and Kiss’. This is nicely executed by Antonio Theba as a rakish-looking Paganini though he is no Richard Tauber; his passion and intensity is missing. ‘Your Sweet Rose-lips’ is heard from Theba in duet with honey-voiced Teresa Stratas as Princess Anna Lisa. Then come ‘Nobody Could Love You More’ and the rapturous solo ‘Love, You Heaven on Earth’. Mention must also be made of the charming duet for the comedian and soubrette (Pimpinelli and Bella) ‘For Once I Would Like to do Something Crazy’.

Lovely melodies, lovely production. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

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