Notes and Editorial Reviews
"It may not contain well-known singers but it is all a performance of Tosca should be. The sets are imaginatively inventive, demonstrating how to make much from little: Mario Corradi's production is theatrically powerful, the singing first class. Antonia Cifarone, who can act as well as sing, is a mesmerizing Tosca... No matter how many Toscas you may already own, this is one well worth adding to your collection"
-- Opera Now Sept/Oct 2009
"The gradual lighting of the Saint Andrea della Valle church is magical. So too is the evolution of the set into the mighty Te deum as Scarpia plots his evil deeds and sends his secret police in search of Angelotti and to follow Tosca. His hooded henchmen appear
in unlikely places and if Cavaradossi’s painting of the Attavanti shows naked breasts, no wonder that Tosca has doubts about his fidelity. I thought that the only such sights in churches were of the Madonna suckling her infant!
Scarpia’s apartment in act 2 is superbly portrayed; his room comes with appropriate table, wine and knife and not far from a four-poster bed on which he throws Tosca before his intended rape. Not often have I been struck by the inappropriateness of the intrusion of Tosca’s prayer, Vissi d’arte, into the dramatic coherence of the opera as I was in this performance. Scarpia stroking her hand during the aria is hardly what he intended. It does give Tosca time to plan her actions after retrieving the secreted knife from under the pillow as Scarpia goes to write her a note to facilitate her escape from Rome, with, she hopes, Cavaradossi. Scarpia returns to finish his carnal intentions and gets something he did not expect. There is no placing of candles as he lies supine and dying on the bed as Tosca looks around, collects her cloak and departs.
I wondered how act 3 would be portrayed. Well, the dawn over Rome went missing, but that was all. There seemed to be a lack of battlement crenellations but there were substitutes and an adequate platform for Tosca to jump from with reasonable reality.
Antonia Cifrone sings a vibrant Tosca with acting in the Callas class....Stefano Secco’s Cavaradossi is lyric and ardent, a little strained in Recondita armonia, more plangent and lyrical in E lucevan le stelle. Giorgio Surian’s acted portrayal of Scarpia is appropriately haughty, scheming and brutal...Among the minor parts Franco Boscolo as the put-upon Sacristan, who is mercilessly bullied by Scarpia, is superbly acted. The very young looking Valerio Galli on the rostrum gives a lyrical...reading.
...this traditionally staged performance gets to the core of one of Puccini’s most dramatic operatic compositions. The staging is as good and realistic as one is likely to see in these days of producer concepts and regietheater."
-- Robert J Farr, MusicWeb International
This DVD [of La bohème] is a worthy tribute to Maestro Puccini and the Old Theatre, which has served so well during more than forty years. The stage is wide and occasionally one feels that it is at odds with, at least, the setting of the first and last act of La Bohème, which takes place in a small attic in Paris. However, set designer Jean-Michel Folon’s inventive solutions reduce the problems and from the outset the viewer is engrossed by the performance. All through the four acts the action takes place on a slightly raised ‘stage-within-the-stage’ in the shape of an artist’s palette. In the second act, at Café Momus, the brightly coloured table-cloths become spectacular splashes of paint. A large screen, covering the greater part of the background, is used entertainingly and informatively to underline aspects of the performance. We are shown the roofs of the surrounding houses, as seen from the attic and in the opening scene of act one, where Rodolfo is writing a poem and Marcello is painting – obviously he was a fore-runner to Mark Rothko – and on the screen well-known and lesser known paintings march past. It is certainly a stimulating production – one to return to and enjoy.
Donata D’Annunzio Lombardi is a brilliant Musetta and Andrea Patucelli sings Colline’s coat aria in the last act with such hushed intensity and warmth that one understands the applause that unfortunately for a few seconds breaks the spell of the performance. It should also be mentioned that Schaunard, a role that is normally allotted to comprimario singers, is here classily sung by the sonorous Massimiliano Valleggi. Stewart Robertson leads his forces in a well-paced performance, further contributing to the overall excellence. A feast for eye as well as ear!"
-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb Iternational
Works on This Recording
Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini
Daniela Dessi (Soprano),
Juan Pons (Baritone),
Fabio Armiliato (Tenor)
Città Lirica Orchestra
Written: 1904; Italy
La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini
Donata D'Annunzio Lombardi (Soprano),
Massimiliano Pisapia (Tenor),
Norma Fantini (Soprano),
Andrea Patucelli (Bass Baritone),
Franco Boscolo (Voice),
Gabriele Viviani (Bass Voice)
Puccini Festival Chorus,
Puccini Festival Orchestra
Written: 1896; Italy
Date of Recording: 08/2007
Tosca by Giacomo Puccini
Antonia Cifrone (Soprano),
Riccardo Ferrari (Bass),
Stefano Secco (Tenor),
Giorgio Surian (Baritone)
Puccini Festival Chorus,
Puccini Festival Orchestra
Written: 1900; Italy
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Unrecognizable Butterfly July 22, 2013
By J. Young (Newport Beach, CA) See All My Reviews
"Having seen "Butterfly" many times, I was shocked and revolted by the sets and costuming that had nothing to do with the history or with Japan. Like many Europeans of his time, Puccini was charmed by the Orient and there is an obvious resentment of American imperialism embedded in this opera. No matter how you interpret the drama no American officer of the time would be dressed like a gothic skinhead and certainly no Japanese dressed like these ridiculous costumes. If one wishes to write an opera he or she should do it and not rewrite what someone else has done and then steal the music. Would one repaint the Mona Lisa or resculpt the Pieta? This seems to be a modern trend approved by Placido Domingo since he mounted Achim Freyer's disasterous version of Wagner's "Ring" in Los Angeles. Tosca and La Boheme were done respectfully if not brilliantly and were enjoyable despite the skimpy sets."