La Donna del Lago, based on Sir Walter Scott''s long narrative poem "The Lady of the Lake" about military conflicts and lovers'' problems in feudal Scotland, is one of Rossini''s best operas. It is not performed as often as it deserves, and this video production (not problem-free) may be the only one available for quite a while. Fans of Rossini will find it worth playing. Like most opera videos, it was recorded in a live performance, including audience applause in which viewers may or may not wish to join. Live recordings can have a spontaneity not always heard in studio work, but small vocal problems--particularly near the beginning when voices are warming up--go uncorrected. The singing often needs to be spectacular, and it usually is once the solo voices have settled down, but you have to make a few allowances. In many scenes, the lighting is quite dim, but the chorus and orchestra are splendid. --Joe McLellan
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