This full-blooded 1982 performance of Puccini's most-loved opera demonstrates just how much drive and powerful emotion can make up for a certain lack of subtlety. Cotrubas' Mimi is entirely moving in both joy and death, while never quite feeling as thoroughly frail as some of her quieter rivals; stronger tenor voices than Neil Shicoff's have recorded the role, and yet he has a Romantic passion and a dignity that many of his rivals fail to bring to the role. That under-rated singer Gwynne Howell is especially moving in Colline's farewell to his cloak--one of those perfect little showcase sections Puccini sometimes gives to minor parts. Marilyn Zschau's Musetta is broad and comic and yet somehow includes the audience in the glorious joke that her sexuality is for her; when Thomas Allen sings, to her waltz theme, of youth that is not yet dead, his ardour transcends realism. Gardelli knew this score in his bones--the production bounces along from comedy to tears to eroticism to tragedy and neither cast nor orchestra miss a single one of Puccini's wonderful touches of emotional exploitation. --Roz Kaveney
Benoit Jacquot's filmed Tosca treads a fine line between operatic staginess and cinematic contrivance. As per the libretto, each act takes place in a single setting, but with the singers here miming to a pre-recorded soundtrack. Jacquot freely reminds us of the conceit with cutaways to the recording session itself--revealing conductor, orchestra and soloists at work--thus a bridge is made between the on-screen action and the music-making itself, and the inherent duality of any opera production is laid refreshingly bare. The same cannot be said for the director's decision to interpolate spoken dialogue over the music in key places--a distraction not an enhancement. Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna are glamorous and attractive enough to make the most of their Hollywood-style close-ups; their singing easily bears similar close scrutiny--as anyone who owns the CD soundtrack album will surely already know. If Alagna lacks a little power as Cavaradossi on record, his charismatic screen presence happily compensates; Gheorghiu is both vocally and physically almost ideal as Tosca. Ruggero Raimondi's Scarpia completes an outstanding trio, and in the pit (or, rather, in the studio) conductor Antonio Pappano handles the drama of Puccini's score without missing a single nuance. Both musically and visually, then, this is a Tosca to treasure. On the DVD: Tosca on disc looks vibrant in this warm, widescreen picture accompanied by a DTS 5.1 soundtrack. Three filmed interviews--with Gheorghiu, Pappano and Jacquot--provide some insight into the making of this production. --Mark Walker
Rossini's rarely performed 'opera series' Ermione was a surprise hit when it was first performed at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 1995. Set in Troy after the fall of the city to the Greeks this tragedy of great histrionic force concentrates on the bitter struggle for the love of Pyrrhus between Hector's widow Andromache and the jealous Ermione sister of Helen of Troy. Graham Vick sets this highly effective production in the classically-inspired auditorium of an
Once regarded as Verdi's lost opera because of early censorship and controversy, Stiffelio has now established its rightful place in Verdi's canon. In this 1993 recording from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Jose Carreras, as the Protestant minister whose faith is shattered when he discovers his wife's adulterous liaison with a family friend, leads a fine cast that includes Catherine Malfitano, Gregory Yurisich, Gwynne Howell and Robin Leggate under the baton of Edward Downes.
A performance of Beethoven's renowned symphony under the baton of Kurt Masur.
Debussy's haunting opera Pelleas et Melisande based on a tragic fairy tale recounts the ill fated love of half brothers Golaud and Pelleas for the same woman the enigmatic Melisande. Graham Vick's beautiful fin-de-siecle production for Glyndebourne Festival Opera filmed in 1999 stars Christiane Oelze as Melisande Richard Croft as Pelleas and John Tomlinson as Golaud.
A performance of Verdi's three-act opera recorded live at The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Celebrated tenor Carreras performs the title role as Verdi's cuckolded minister confronting his wife's adultery.
Please wait. Loading...