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Thread: Operas by Puccini on DVD/Blu-Ray/CD

          
   
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  1. #16
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Dark_Angel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    Yes. I would agree that the Cavaradossi in this, Richard Margison, is unfortunately so unattractive as to be distracting in the love scenes. I love that final leap of Malfitano's. outlined against the background, hair flying everywhere.
    Watching the actual DVD full size they cheat a little and do a touch of slow motion during the leap to further empasize that dramatic ultimate sacrifice.......

    Definitely helps to have a physically attractive Cavaradossi so the loss is all the greater for poor Tosca, for example:


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  3. #17
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Dark_Angel's Avatar
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    Madama Butterfly featuring Raina Kabaivanska......



    1983 Verona (Italy) open air theater arena performance, the picture quality is very good....better than a MET staged opera from same time period. Other than Raina the cast is 2nd tier but competent performances, Kabaivanska is really great here in fine soaring voice with heartbreaking emotional involvement, tall commanding physical presence of Raina does not in any way visually represent a 15 year teen bride but the singing is so great and committed that are you spell bound by her work......

    I still prefer overall the film version Butterfly but for a cheap used price this Verona opera performance will find a welcome spot in my Puccini opera collection


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  5. #18
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Dark_Angel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarpsichordConcerto View Post
    Does anyone here have an opinion of this re-make version of Franco Zeffirelli’s Turandot classic?

    MET Turandot now and then.......




    As you may have suspected the new 2009 blu ray performance is exactly the same Zeffirelli production as the famous 1987 DVD version, same sets same costumes almost identical except for different singers, it is lavish and opulent beyond compare, the cast of extras is huge. The blu ray is far superior in picture and sound quality, a stunning presentation that will amaze.

    Eva Martin is a brighter shriller Turandot, truely a cold hearted ice princess, by contrast Guleghina both vocally and personalty wise is a bit warmer and emotional.....I was never an Eva Martin fan and this is another example where I prefer Guleghina in the new production. I have another Turandot with Maria Guleghina which also is played with a warmer voice and personality



    Domingo as Calaf in old version is a better actor and has edge vocally over Giordani (unknown to me previously) although Domingo was never a great Calaf vocally for me, I prefer Carreras Pavarotti Corelli among others. Giordani does a decent job but will not dispalce any of the top tenors who have sung this role

    Poplavskaya is a great Liu, such a heartbreaking emotional performance full of passion and sweet singing, I have become a huge fan of her work, she has great stage presence and charisma. Leona Mitchell was a pleasant positive surprise for me as Liu in the older version, she also touched our hearts but I slightly favor Marina Poplavskaya overall......

    Sam Ramey provides star power in the minor role of Timur in new version (Natalie does not get to see "the chest")

    Overall if I could only keep one I take the new MET blu ray despite having a weaker Calaf, I have heard critque of Zeffirelli version that stage is just too detailed and visually busy to the point of distraction, perhaps some truth to that but I am glad we have this document of all out splendor and opulance

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  7. #19
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Tosca on DVD (partial - act II only)



    Tosca, Act II only - this DVD also includes Verdi's Don Carlo Act IV, and from Bizet's Carmen, the Habanera and the Séguedille from act I, and the entracte before Act III.

    The Tosca bit was recorded live at Covent Garden on September 11, 1964; sung in Italian with no subtitles.

    The video is in black and white, the format is NTSC 4:3, and we get LPCM mono sound.

    Conducted by Carlo Felice Cillario
    Directed by Franco Zefirelli (traditionalist staging with period costumes)

    Maria Callas - Tosca
    Tito Gobbi - Scarpia
    Renato Cioni - Cavaradossi
    Robert Bowman - Spoletta
    Dennis Wicks - Sciarrone

    Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Maria-Callas-C...+covent+garden

    Granular image, so-so sound, no subtitles (well, who needs them, for such a well known piece?). But then, you get some gorgeous singing and very convincing acting. Titto Gobbi sings loudly and clear - very loudly, deafening so - and looks evil. His facial expressions are just great! He sets the standard for a forceful and nasty Scarpia. Maria Callas is still in good shape here, vocally speaking, although at times she's drowned by Gobbi and by the orchestra. Her real vocal troubles didn't start until some months later, that same year in Paris when she sang Norma. Still, one wishes that the she could still sing here like she did in 1953 in a studio recording with the same Gobbi, arguably the best Tosca ever recorded.

    But even if not at the peak of her singing, Calla's acting in her confrontations with Scarpia is exquisite. Emotions pour out of her beautiful face. And of course, her "Vissi d'arte" is touching and masterful, although her upper range gets a few notes that have the harshness that some non-fans blame her for. Who cares? It's still wonderful! The stabbing scene is simply spectacular and thoroughly convincing, one feels like one is witnessing a real crime scene with no over- or underacting. Then her frantic search for the safe-conduct and her horrified hesitation while placing candles around the corpse and startling at the sudden drums, it all feels incredibly real. Bravissima, Maria, and bravo, Titto!

    Renato Cioni is fine but he's clearly not the star here when compared to the other two principals. His acting is much worse than Callas' and Gobbi's. The comprimario artists do a decent job in both acting and singing although it is very hard to be on stage with magnetic people of the stature of Callas and Gobbi and still look good.

    There is one problem with this performance, buyer beware: you won't like as much other Toscas you might see, once you get this. The standard here is too high. Opera doesn't get much better than this. A+, highly recommended.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  9. #20
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Tosca on DVD



    Recorded live at the Metropolitan Opera House on March 20 and 27, 1985, released by Pioneer Classics in 1999.

    Sung in Italian with English subtitles. NTSC Color 4:3, Dolby Digital stereo sound, running time 127 minutes, no extras. The insert contain synopsis, chapter list with characters names but no durations, an essay recovered from Lincoln Center's Stagebill which describes the history of Toscas at the Met more than this production, which only gets a couple of lines at the end of the essay. There is one production picture in the insert, and three more on the back cover.

    It is important to notice that this DVD has been remastered and re-leased with better sound (DD 5.1, DTS 5.1 and LPCM stereo) and five more subtitle options, in 2006 by DG.



    So, if your cover has the blue Pioneer Classics icon on the right side, it's the older one, while the one with the yellow DG logo on the left side is the new release. Here I'm reviewing the older one (and there are image and sound problems which hopefully got eliminated in the newer release). Here is the link for the newer version on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Puccini-Tosca-...lacido+domingo

    Conductor - Giuseppe Sinopoli, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus
    Production and Set Design - Franco Zeffirelli (traditionalist, with period costumes by Peter J. Hall and lighting by Gil Wechsler)

    Tosca - Hildegard Behrens
    Cavaradossi - Plácido Domingo
    Scarpia - Cornell MacNeil
    Angelotti - James Courtney
    Sacristan - Italo Tajo
    Spoletta - Anthony Laciura
    Shepherd boy - Melissa Fogarty
    Sciarrone - Russell Christopher
    Jailer - Richard Vernon

    The image is a bit cloudy. Sound balance is rather terrible, with variable sound according to microphone placement (this is technology from 27 years ago, not at the level of quality of more recent DVDs - like I said, hopefully this got solved in the remastered release).

    The first scenes open with a vocally good James Courtney doing a convincing Angelotti, and a great actor in Italo Tajo as the sacristan (the Met has a knack for these older comprimario roles; they're often entrusted to very good veterans of the trade). A handsome and elegant Plácido Domingo makes his entrance and soon impresses with an excellent rendition of "Recondita armonia." Fans of 'Placidone' won't want to pass on this historical document, independently of all the rest, just from this beautiful performance of this great aria. Applause is wild after he finishes.

    The orchestra and conductor do an excellent job. The sounds from the pit are dynamic, energetic, very much alive, and the tempi are brisk and exciting. It is all very appropriately intense. When the camera focuses (rarely) on the youngish conductor, one can feel that he is really into this score.

    Ms. Behrens makes her entrance. She is definitely not one of my favorite sopranos, but actually here she is a lot better than in her rather mixed bag of a showing as Brünnhilde in Otto Schenk's Ring. Vocally she pretty much delivers the goods. One would hope, though, for a more attractive lady and a bit better actress (she does well in acting but is irregular - better in the second act than in the first one), especially because she is singing alongside a Placido Domingo at the peak of his powers, both as a singer, and as a handsome man - one gets the problem of the necessary suspension of disbelief - why is such a dashing gentleman interested in such a plain lady? Anyway, this shouldn't be the important aspect. Like I said, she does sing well here, so let's not be too exigent regarding looks. Still, she is no Callas, and no Marton. Definitely here, of the main trio she is the least satisfying performer. Her "Vissi d'arte" although mostly fine, is clearly not as good as the one by even a tired Callas in the above 1965 performance, and then it is miles behind the Callas of the 1953 studio recording. And seeing both ladies in the exact same production highlights how much better an actress Callas was. But OK, who can bear comparison with the great Callas? So let's cut poor Ms. Behrens some slack.

    Plácido on the other hand is simply spectacular. This may very well be his best performance on video ever, or at least up there with the top ones. He is flawless from beginning to end and both his "Recondita armonia" and his "E lucevan le stelle" are absolutely first rate and memorable.

    To complete the quality of this DVD, Cornell MacNeil is a great Scarpia, and acts the role with brutal efficiency. His voice, while not nearly as powerful as Titto Gobbi's (who is pretty much the standard-bearer Scarpia for me), is very well modulated and precise. It does cause at times the strange effect of being too beautiful a baritone voice for the nasty Scarpia, which takes a bit more harshness and a little less lyricism (a fact that Gobbi was very much aware of). Still, if the voice causes a bit of a divorce with the character, the acting doesn't - MacNeill is one wicked evil Scarpia, and he is also able to convey even better than Gobbi, a certain genuine interest for Tosca, in moments when he seems to be struggling with his own sadistic impulses for the sake of some conceivable real love, deep inside, adding appropriate nuances to the character. A remarkable performance!

    Zefirelli's production is very competent. The large Met stage is used with skill, the blocking is extremely well done, and the settings are superbly convincing. Zefirelli is of course a master of large crowds moving through the stage, and the Te Deum procession is truly wonderfully done. This effect is such that one remembers why traditionalist stagings still have their place in this Regie day and age, as per one of our recent forum discussions (available [here]). This is the same production reviewed above in its Covent Garden version, and it is nice to see it this time in full color and better camera work.

    I give this DVD a score of A. It's a notch below A+ thanks to Behrens not being an ideal Tosca and being irregular throughout the opera, but it is still a great production with excellent performances from mostly all involved (actually including her, who does have her peaks), therefore highly recommended.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  10. #21
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Plácido on the other hand is simply spectacular. This may very well be his best performance on video ever, or at least up there with the top ones. He is flawless from beginning to end and both his "Recondita armonia" and his "E lucevan le stelle" are absolutely first rate and memorable.
    I agree with your review, Alma, although possibly I liked Behrens even less than you (couldn't cope when she got kittenish). But Plácido, oh my goodness, he is absolutely wonderful here, spectacular, and this DVd is worth seeing for him.
    Natalie

  11. #22
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Manon Lescaut



    Maria Guleghina (Manon Lescaut), José Cura (Des Grieux), Lucio Gallo (Lescaut), Luigi Roni (Geronte), Marco Berti (Edmondo), Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala, Riccardo Muti, stage direction by Liliana Cavani; 1998.

    I picked up this version of Manon Lescaut recently for about US$10 including freight, and I got my money's worth. Manon Lescaut is one of my favourite Puccini operas, typical Puccinian-opera in so many ways. This particular version, probably not my favourite, is still very adequate in its own way. Traditional staging that does not leave you second-guessing what is going on every minute and leaves you to focus on the passion of the lead characters, with singers that look more or less their age as one might imagine with the original characters. José Cura sings Des Grieux well to my ears but me being rather nasty, I cannot help but to compare with Domingo. Maria Guleghina sings Manon Lescaut and appears rather warbly/unsteady at times. The baton under Muti comes not a fault to reckon.

    So, my take is when this version drops down in price on a cheap sale, and you enjoy the opera, or even if you have yet to listen to it, by all means snap it up.

  12. #23
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Turandot



    Luana De Vol (Turandot), Barbara Frittoli (Liu), Franco Farina (Calaf) & Stefano Palatchi (Timur), Orquestra Simfňnica i Cor del Gran Teatre del Liceu, Giuliano Carella; July 2005.

    Very similar circumstance to my review directly above on Manon Lescaut. Bought it cheap for about US$10 including freight. Overall, another adequate but not first rate addition to the collection of favoruite Puccini operas. Turandot is one of my favourites. This production appeared rather lavish but I still preferred Zeffirelli's over-the-top lavishness with Domingo/Levine, and Chen Kaige's more authentic eastern stylishness with Zubin Mehta. The singing was not amongst the finest but enough to get the emotions moving. Luana DeVol appeared rather aged for the role of Turandot but that was only a superficial observation.

    Overall observation, as per Manon Lescaut above if you are considering whether or not to buy this one!

  13. #24
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Robert Carsen's attempt to set the opera's story within a theater during the 1950s doesn't really work, but the singing and acting of the three principals are marvelous. Emily Magee sashays around in sunglasses and mink coat a la a Hollywood diva, but her interaction with Cavaradossi, and especially her revulsion at Scarpia's touch, are completely credible. Kaufmann sings gloriously as the revolutionary idealist Cavaradossi, and Thomas Hampson is absolutely one of the most chilling Scarpias I've ever heard.

    Still, I'm looking forward to the eventual release (on this side of the pond) of the ROH staging with Gheorghiu and Terfel (the latter of whom I heard as Scarpia at the Met) alongside Kaufmann.

  14. #25
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    Still, I'm looking forward to the eventual release (on this side of the pond) of the ROH staging with Gheorghiu and Terfel (the latter of whom I heard as Scarpia at the Met) alongside Kaufmann.
    Have you already ordered it? Amazon.uk are offering it for $16.50 + postage.

    "The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."
    Lucy Maud Montgomery

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  16. #26
    Senior Member Veteran Member Aksel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    Robert Carsen's attempt to set the opera's story within a theater during the 1950s doesn't really work, but the singing and acting of the three principals are marvelous. Emily Magee sashays around in sunglasses and mink coat a la a Hollywood diva, but her interaction with Cavaradossi, and especially her revulsion at Scarpia's touch, are completely credible. Kaufmann sings gloriously as the revolutionary idealist Cavaradossi, and Thomas Hampson is absolutely one of the most chilling Scarpias I've ever heard.

    Still, I'm looking forward to the eventual release (on this side of the pond) of the ROH staging with Gheorghiu and Terfel (the latter of whom I heard as Scarpia at the Met) alongside Kaufmann.
    I found the production very effective, actually. Especially the ending.

  17. #27
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    Have you already ordered it? Amazon.uk are offering it for $16.50 + postage.

    Ooooh, definitely have to look into this.

  18. #28
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    A cheapy box-set I picked up for about US$50 including freight. La Bohčme, Turandot, Manon Lescaut, Madama Butterfly

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    The best productions were Manon and Turandot, while the other "twins" La Bohčme and Butterfly were alright. One of those box-sets that I watched quite quickly during early and warm summer's evenings over a few nights in a row. It's always interesting to view several Puccin operas in a row because of the contrast and consistency amongst them especially with the two "twins". Each came with booklets of their own in separate DVD cases. (I already have the version of La Bohčme featuring Pavarotti). The production and DVD "feel" were a little aged if you are concerned with that sort of thing (I don't). But if you love these operas, and the discount is on, I could recommend them.

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  20. #29
    Senior Member Involved Member Itullian's Avatar
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  21. #30
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Dark_Angel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    This Puccini boxset is really essential, contains all Tebaldi Decca studio recordings from 1950s, 1960s.
    These are really great performances not live radio broadcasts or lesser known artists


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