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The main prop is a gigantic tree, sufficiently snowbound to suggest we are in northern Italy. The pre-dawn chorus assembles in its shadow to await the appearance of Venus, the morning star. Venus might also symbolise the happy marriage that is due to take place later in the day, but is of course frustrated by the previous history of the bridegroom and the untimely arrival of a discarded amour and her outraged parent. For the moment the chorus is entirely concerned with the natural world, and that magic moment when a new day breaks [watch and listen -- Act 1 chapter 2, 7:47-8:59].

Evelyn Herlitzius as Leonora and Ildar Abdrazakov as Oberto. Screenshot © 2007 Opus Arte/ABAO
Evelyn Herlitzius as Leonora and Ildar Abdrazakov as Oberto. Screenshot © 2007 Opus Arte/ABAO

Trouble bursts in soon enough. The outraged Leonora of Evelyn Herlitzius is joined in mutual anger by Ildar Abdrazakov as Oberto, her exiled father. The wedding plans are unlikely to materialise under such auspices. Both characters are single-minded in their desire for vengeance against the future lord of the castle. Vocally they are in full command, but the camera might have spared us quite as many close-ups of Leonora's mouth. Its shape is remarkable enough, best described at full expanse as the direct opposite of that belonging to our late prime minister's wife [watch and listen -- Act 1 chapter 8, 29:50-31:57].

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Copyright © 28 November 2007 Robert Anderson, London UK

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