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

          
   
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  1. #61
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Of the three recordings of this opera I have, the Met version with Barbara Daniels, Plácido Domingo, and Sherrill Milnes remains my overall favorite. The Vienna production with Stemme, Kaufmann, and Tomasz Konieczny has its pluses -- chiefly, the singing of Kaufmann and Stemme. Konieczny seems to be the Wiener Staatsoper's all-purpose baritone, and while he certainly isn't a poor Rance, for me he's not on a par with Milnes. Marco Arturo Marelli's updated staging usually works (the Polka saloon becomes a food truck), with the exception of that hideous red fright wig Stemme is required to wear. It makes her look like a complete frump and causes the viewer to wonder why she inspires such passion in Johnson/Ramerrez and Rance. (The first recording I purchased was the audio version with Carol Neblett, Domingo, and Milnes as the principals, and it's also very good.)

  2. #62
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    I agree with Mary about the Vienna production. That wig! Also agree that the Met one is excellent.

    My favourite stage production is the Swedish Opera production with Nina Stemme, which uses a silent movie trope to make perfect sense of the wild west setting. Stemme looks a lot better in this as well, and John Lundgren is an excellent Rance.

    Natalie

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    My favourite stage production is the Swedish Opera production with Nina Stemme, which uses a silent movie trope to make perfect sense of the wild west setting. Stemme looks a lot better in this as well, and John Lundgren is an excellent Rance.
    Would you believe it, I was looking at this just yesterday, trying to decide if I should buy it! I was not especially impressed by Antonenko when I saw him in Otello a couple years back, but I only watched it once and haven't seen any of this other roles.

  4. #64
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dichteurehalle View Post
    Would you believe it, I was looking at this just yesterday, trying to decide if I should buy it! I was not especially impressed by Antonenko when I saw him in Otello a couple years back, but I only watched it once and haven't seen any of this other roles.
    Antonenko is always a bit stolid but he is fine here; after all it's a role that requires less range than Otello, and is of course less punishing. The other two are fantastic and I personally find the staging the most convincing of any I have seen. I saw it on YT and then felt moved to actually buy it when it came out.
    Natalie

  5. #65
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    I too like the Swedish Opera production with Stemme. I also have the old ROH with Domingo, Neblett, and Carolli--a solid, if traditional staging.


  6. #66
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Tosca on blu-ray disc



    Tosca, opera in three acts sung in Italian, premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900
    Music by Giacomo Puccini
    Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, based on the dramatic play by Victorien Sardou

    Recorded live from the Easter Festival Baden-Baden April 2017

    Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Sir Simon Rattle
    Philharmonia Choir Wien, Walter Zeh chorus master
    Cantus Juvenum Karlsruhe, Anette Schneirder chorus master
    Stage Director Philipp Himmelmann
    Set Designer Raimund Bauer
    Costumes Kathi Maurer
    Lighting Reinhard Traub
    Video Martin Eidenberger

    Cast

    Floria Tosca - Kristine Opolais
    Mario Cavaradossi - Marcelo Álvarez
    Baron Scarpia - Marco Vratogna
    Cesare Angelotti - Alexander Tsymbalyuk
    Il Sagrestano - Peter Rose
    Spoletta - Peter Tantsits
    Sciarrone - Douglas Williams
    Un carceriere - Walter Fink

    Blu-ray disc released by SWR EuroArts in cooperation with ARTE
    Running time 125 minutes. Picture format 1080i full HD 16:9. Sound PCM Stereo or DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, or Korean. Region Code All. Insert: list of musical numbers with roles and duration. Credits. Two production pictures in color and one in black-and-white. A synopsis. Nothing else, and no bonus track.

    ------------

    My first impression is not very favorable. We'll see how this production evolves, but initially, I have a few concerns. Of course the orchestra and the conductor are great, but the contemporary sets are not attractive. There is no doubt that Marcelo Álvarez commands a beautiful and powerful tenor instrument but his delivery of "Recondita armonia" is abrupt and not subtle, with little work on the musical lines. It is often, however, not advisable to gauge a singer by his first aria, due to the need to warm up the voice, so, let's refrain from passing harsh judgment, yet.

    When Kristine Opolais makes her entrance, her brunette wig is disappointing and makes her a lot less attractive than her natural blonde hair (the wig is a lot blacker than the cover picture indicates). Peter Rose delivers well his small role. As expected Kristine sings superbly her first several lines (and inspired by her, immediately Marcelo appears to improve his dynamic variation). The sequence of duets they sing makes me forget my initial concerns about abrupt delivery. After all, this is a luxury cast with two excellent singers in the main roles. Now I look forward to listening to our Scarpia, manned by a singer unknown to me. By the way, another comprimario role, Angelotti, is also very satisfactory.

    Our Scarpia makes his entrance, and he looks pretty ridiculous in his costume, mustache, black nails, and blonde wig with a ponytail. He also looks kind of young for the role - probably the youngest-looking Scarpia I've ever seen - someone in his forties rather than his sixties like I usually think of Scarpia. Without being spectacular, he sings fairly well. Voice-wise, this is a good cast.

    Spoletta is dressed exactly like his master, with a matching blonde ponytail, down to the sort of Google Glasses they wear. The chorus enters for the Te Deum scene and they are all dressed the same way. They have a glowing round brooch.

    End of Act I. Well-sung, but the sets, wigs, and costumes, again, are not attractive. Act II begins, and Scarpia's office is all sleek and modern, with metal surfaces and black leather furniture, a lot better than the visually unappealing church in Act I. Behind the porous metal surfaces of the walls (a mesh), there are screens showing surveillance video (like a 1984 feel, with the oppressive dystopia that the director picked as a concept - it seems to be set in the near future). I like it. These are good sets, much improved from Act I. The screens show big images of Kristine's beautiful face, while she sings outside.

    Act II continues, and is overall rather good in terms of singing. Acting-wise, Kristine and Marco are better than Marcelo, who overacts. Kristine is phenomenal in "Vissi d'arte," in my opinion better than other recent Toscas such as Sonya Yoncheva. Scarpia films her with a camera, and the image is projected on the walls; neat.

    Act III starts with a boy singer, in "Io de' sospiri" and he does it well. It's the same boy who participates silently in Act I; seems to be the sacristan's son - at least I hope so; the sacristan is affectionate towards the boy but there are no hints of anything inappropriate so I hope the director is not heavy-handedly insinuating pedophilia.

    The sets for Act III are made of just the background wall. "E lucevan le stelle" is expertly delivered by Marcelo. Powerful! The execution scene is well-handled with a sort of futuristic electric device pointed to Mario's head, rather than a fire squad. Tosca uses the same electric device to commit suicide, in front of the surveillance screens. I like it.

    Grading this product: Orchestra A++, Conductor A++ (excellent job, these Germans performing Puccini!), Singing by the main characters A+, by comprimarios A, chorus A, acting B+, sets B, stage direction B+, blocking B, wigs, make-up and costumes B-, lighting/video A+. Video and sound quality, as usual with blu-ray and DTS Master Audio, A++. Documentation B-.

    So, musical aspects get an overall A+, the physical production is a B, and the blu-ray quality and packaging A-.

    It's a recommended purchase given the high musical values (especially, Kristine makes a very good Tosca - first time I see her in this role), but the other aspects are relatively unremarkable (it is regretful that the insert has no essays) - the kind of production that is best to listen to, rather than to watch on video, although Acts II and III are rather interesting with the visual effects - I guess I just didn't like the shabby church in Act I, and the costumes.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); December 29th, 2018 at 04:52 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  8. #67
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Hmmm, based on the cover, it appears this could be a modern-day Tosca. Could be quite a good one at that. Awaiting your review. Thanks.
    "Ah,non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore." --Bellini, La Sonnambula (also written on his tomb).

  9. #68
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    Tosca on blu-ray disc



    Tosca, opera in three acts sung in Italian, premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900
    Music by Giacomo Puccini
    Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, based on the dramatic play by Victorien Sardou

    Recorded live from the Easter Festival Baden-Baden April 2017

    Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Sir Simon Rattle
    Philharmonia Choir Wien, Walter Zeh chorus master
    Cantus Juvenum Karlsruhe, Anette Schneirder chorus master
    Stage Director Philipp Himmelmann
    Set Designer Raimund Bauer
    Costumes Kathi Maurer
    Lighting Reinhard Traub
    Video Martin Eidenberger

    Cast

    Floria Tosca - Kristine Opolais
    Mario Cavaradossi - Marcelo Álvarez
    Baron Scarpia - Marco Vratogna
    Cesare Angelotti - Alexander Tsymbalyuk
    Il Sagrestano - Peter Rose
    Spoletta - Peter Tantsits
    Sciarrone - Douglas Williams
    Un carceriere - Walter Fink

    Blu-ray disc released by SWR EuroArts in cooperation with ARTE
    Running time 125 minutes. Picture format 1080i full HD 16:9. Sound PCM Stereo or DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, or Korean. Region Code All. Insert: list of musical numbers with roles and duration. Credits. Two production pictures in color and one in black-and-white. A synopsis. Nothing else, and no bonus track.

    ------------
    Excellent review, thank you.

    I was interested to read that you thought Marco Vratogna was good. Maybe his voice has mellowed but I've seen him live twice now and to my ears he just snarls and shouts. He was Ezio in the Attila I saw in Seattle and Iago in Otello at ROH.
    "Every theatre is an insane asylum, but an opera theatre is the ward for the incurables."

    FRANZ SCHALK, attributed, Losing the Plot in Opera: Myths and Secrets of the World's Great Operas

  10. #69
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    The execution scene is well-handled with a sort of futuristic electric device pointed to Mario's head, rather than a fire squad. Tosca uses the same electric device to commit suicide, in front of the surveillance screens. I like it.
    I remember seeing a video clip of that some time ago. It was different. I think I prefer the traditional firing squad and leap from the wall.
    "Ah,non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore." --Bellini, La Sonnambula (also written on his tomb).

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