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Puccini: Tosca / Cedolins, Alvarez, Raimondi, Oren

Puccini / Orch& Chorus Of Arena Di Verona / Oren
Release Date: 01/25/2011 
Label:  Arthaus Musik   Catalog #: 107195  
Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Ruggero RaimondiGiuliano PelizonFabio PreviatiMarco Spotti,   ... 
Conductor:  Daniel Oren
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verona Teatro Arena OrchestraVerona Teatro Arena Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Also available on Blu-ray


PUCCINI Tosca Daniel Oren, cond; Fiorenza Cedolins ( Tosca ); Marcello Álvarez ( Cavaradossi ); Ruggero Raimondi ( Scarpia ); Marco Spotti ( Angelotti Read more class="ARIAL12">); Fabio Previati ( Sacristan ); Arena di Verona O & Ch ARTHAUS 107 195 (DVD: 119:00) Live: Verona 2006

Tosca is certainly one of the most popular operas, as evidenced by the now 20-plus productions available on DVD. This set, from a live performance at the first-century Verona Arena in 2006, has been reviewed in Fanfare by Phillip Scott in 31:4 and the Blu-ray version by Andrew Quint in 32:6. Now it is appearing again in a new guise on the Arthaus label. The arena itself, a relic from Roman days, is very large and very impressive as a venue, with many seats. It makes you wonder how well people could see from the cheap seats back in the gladiator days. Actually, the arena is a tourist destination and there are no cheap seats any longer, but plenty that are far, far away, as can be seen when the camera pans over the impressive audience before the action begins. Performing an opera in such a massive setting requires large sets, busy staging, and broad acting to be a success, and we get plenty of all that here. It also helps to have a few horses or a couple of elephants, which unfortunately Tosca does not require, but live cannons, yes!

A gigantic head and detached hand holding a short sword as if parts from a very large dismantled statue are a case in point here. They share the stage throughout the opera with the more traditional trappings of church, police office, and castle ramparts for no discernible reason other than they are large and eye-catching, even from the back rows. Plenty of extras wend their way in and out, especially in the first act. We as video viewers get a different and probably much better perspective than most of those in attendance, with lots of close-ups of the action and changes of viewing perspective from multiple cameras. It lets us focus in close on the drama between the singers. Yes, the staging is busy, and some acting is broad, but the soul of Tosca the opera is under there to be found, especially for the camera.

The sound is also excellent on the DVD, much better, I suspect, than if you were in the audience, even though the singers and orchestra must all be amplified. The Arena di Verona Orchestra on disc sounds very fine playing some of Puccini’s best-known music under the leadership of Daniel Oren. As the other reviewers have pointed out, the singing is also quite good. I have never heard Marcello Álvarez sound better; he is in great voice on this particular night, and his “E lucevan le stelle” now has to be one of the best recorded anywhere. His acting is still a little wooden and he has lost a bit of his once-svelte figure, but his singing as Cavaradossi is a highlight of the set. Ruggero Raimondi is a perennial favorite as Scarpia, one of his signature roles; I believe this is his third time doing it on DVD alone. He still can produce plenty of nastiness as the villain of the piece and his singing still holds up quite well. I am a little less happy with the Tosca, Fiorenza Cedolins. She acts better than she sings; she seems to seriously push her lyric voice in places, and not always with the most beautiful sound. Her high notes can become wayward and a bit shrieky, but she looks good in the part and settles down to sing a good “Visse d’arte” before all the bloodletting begins.

Surprisingly, of the many available DVDs, very few offer serious competition. Some of the older sets suffer from poor sound or visuals and some of the newer ones from wayward production concepts. There are two sets from the Metropolitan Opera, the one from 1978 with Shirley Verrett reinvented as a soprano and a top-notch Pavarotti, but with old sets and dim lighting. The newer 1985 Met video features the well-liked Zefferelli staging but with poorer singing. An Italian film version with Domingo and Raina Kabaivanska is quite well done but the lip-syncing can get to be annoying. Possibly the best-sung version, a 2000 film with Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu, is marred by the ill-conceived device of inserting video clips from the recording sessions into the opera itself, dissipating any drama that has been created. A 1992 video made for Italian television again with Domingo and the Tosca of Catherine Malfitano uses the actual locations from the libretto and is quite well done. Another good one is a 2007 DVD recording live from the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago, which casts young unknown singers and has garnered much praise. Because of the excellent sound and especially because of the fine singing of Álvarez, this Verona set matches up quite well with most of the others. Screen ratio is 16:9; sound is LPCM stereo, DD 5.1 and DTS 5.1. Subtitles are in five languages.

FANFARE: Bill White

Giacomo Puccini

Floria Tosca – Fiorenza Cedolins
Mario Cavaradossi – Marcelo Álvarez
Il barone Scarpia – Ruggero Raimondi
Cesare Angelotti – Marco Spotti
Il sagrestano – Fabio Previati
Spoletta – Enrico Facini
Sciarrone – Giuliano Pelizon
Un carceriere – Angelo Nardinocchi
Un pastorello – Ottavia Dorrucci

Coro e Orchestra dell'Arena di Verona
(chorus master: Marco Faelli)
Coro di voci bianche "A.Li.Ve"
(conductor: Paolo Facincani)
Daniel Oren, conductor

Hugo de Ana, stage director, set, costume and lighting designer

Recorded live at the Arena di Verona, July 2006

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: LPCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish
Running time: 119 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)
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Works on This Recording

Tosca by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Ruggero Raimondi (Bass), Giuliano Pelizon (Baritone), Fabio Previati (Baritone),
Marco Spotti (Bass), Marcelo Alvarez (Tenor), Enrico Facini (Tenor),
Fiorenza Cedolins (Soprano)
Conductor:  Daniel Oren
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verona Teatro Arena Orchestra,  Verona Teatro Arena Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1900; Italy 

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