Reader's Digest versions of two Verdi operas are currently confusing patrons of the Kenmore Theatre. It's difficult to understand how one can be so good and the other so abysmally bad.
You will probably enjoy La Traviata if you can ignore the unsynchronized sound track and the incongruity of narration in English and singing in Italian. Gino Mattera, as Alfredo, is a fine actor with a big, impressive voice. Nelly Coradda, in the juicy role of Violetta, is devastatingly feminine. The settings are all effective, particularly the sparkling fountain where Violetta and Alfredo first acknowledge their love. Except for a few excessively sentimental scenes, the movie is a forthright attempt to reproduce the great moments of a great opera.
Then comes Il Trovatore. Admittedly the plot is ridiculous and the music not always first-rate. Still, there can be no excuse for this wretched production. Stereotyped sets, exaggerated dramatic sequences, and stilted love scenes class this among the worst opera movies ever made. Enzo Mascherini and Gianno Pederzini are unhappily cast as the lovers. They can't act, and their singing is strained and ugly. Even the "Miserare" becomes laughably unconvincing. By the time the picture ended, Trovatore was not the only one who was Il.