Notes and Editorial Reviews
Picture format: NTSC 16:9 (widescreen)
Sound format: LPCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1
Region code: 0 (All Region)
Booklet Languages: English, French, German
Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Running time: 155 mins
Recorded at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Firenze, October 2005
R E V I E W S
Rossini was only 21 when his Tancredi was premiered at Venice's major operatic venue, La Fenice, in 1813--but he already had nine operas behind him, mostly successful one-act comedies. This was his breakthrough, though in opera seria. It was a success at its opening despite the indisposition of the main singer; the hero's cabaletta, "Di tanti
palpiti", was so memorable that every gondolier in Venice was humming it the next morning. Within two years it began to catch on all over Europe and beyond, traveling through Italy to Munich, Dresden, Vienna, London, Paris, and then to New York (in 1825). Like most of Rossini's serious operas, it eventually disappeared from the repertoire; also like most of his serious operas, it has come back with something like a vengeance.
There are about four complete recordings of the opera and this DVD brings the total number in that format to three; the opera has been performed frequently over the past year, with mezzos Ewa Podles and Daniela Barcellona making a specialty of it. Rossini revised the opera for a performance in Ferrara, changing the happy ending to one in which Tancredi dies, a hero, with his beloved Amenaide by his side. It is this ending--quiet, intense, intimate, and very daring for its day--that's most commonly used now, and that is the one that appears here.
This production, designed and directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi, originated at the Rossini Festival in Pesaro in 1999; it traveled to Rome and then Florence, where this performance was filmed in 2005. Pizzi's view is very classical: columns, some upright, some fallen, an altar, an equestrian statue, marble stairs; black and white costumes (tunics, togas, chain mail) for all except Tancredi and his faction, which are in crimson (until late in the action when even Tancredi, presumably as a gesture of solidarity, dons black leather). There are movable panels that help define the playing area. The overall effect is austere, and the direction of the cast (taken over in this revival by Massimio Gasparon) is minimal. The lighting, by Sergio Rossi, sets the mood, greatly abetting the action of the performers.
The star is Daniela Barcellona as Tancredi. The possessor of a warm, true mezzo voice that can handle fiorature effortlessly, she also takes the noble character very seriously and carries herself with dignity. She doesn't benefit much from close-ups, but her involvement and absolutely expert technique make her portrayal believable and notable. Her slow, sad death scene is pure emotion wedded to pure tone. Soprano Darina Takova's bright tone and lovely demeanor allows us to care about Amenaide, and she is as engaging in long cantilena lines as she is in flights of coloratura. Her duets with Tancredi, which are almost as impressive as those Rossini wrote years later for Semiramide and Arsace, are stunning.
Tenor Raul Gimenez sings the role of Amenaide's father, Argirio, and here, a bit late in his career, he skillfully gets through it by avoiding many of Rossini's high notes and abbreviating some of the more embellished music. Marco Spotti's dark bass is effective as Orbazzano, who wants Amenaide's hand in marriage, and as Tancredi's friend Roggiero, countertenor Nicola Marchesini exhibits good tone and a fine dramatic sense. Barbara di Castri sings Isaura, Amenaide's companion, with somewhat too grand a sound.
Riccardo Frizza is a true Rossinian and he holds the ensemble together as well as he accompanies the soloists. The recitatives are delivered too slowly at times, but this may be to underline the gravity of the plot. This DVD is better than its competitors: one from the Schwetzingen Opera is well sung but lacks all conviction in the two female leads; the other, from Trieste, also stars Barcellona in fine form but is hampered by static staging and poor, sometimes out-of-sync sound. TDK offers brilliant picture and sound and very good camera work. Subtitles are in English, French, Italian, and German. Tancredi is a very important part of Rossini's output and gives great pleasure when performed as well as it is here.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Reviewing originl TDK release
ROSSINI Tancredi • Riccardo Frizza, cond; Raúl Giménez (Argirio); Daniela Barcellona (Tancredi); Marco Spotti (Orbazzano); Darina Takova (Amenaide); Nicola Marchesini (Roggiero); Maggio Musicale Fiorentino O & Ch • ARTHAUS 107299 (155:00) Live: Florence 2005
Pier Luigi Pizzi’s production of Tancredi had its debut in 1999, with Daniela Barcellona in the title role. This filming of it took place six years later, and has just been reissued. It is austere, visually foreboding: beige-colored girders and columns against a black background for the start of act I, for example, with more of the same with a frieze thrown in for act II. I’m taken by the way Pizzi (who was stage director, set designer, and costumier to this production) emphasizes single elements to strong effect, as in the black grill and white, bier-like bed against a blackened stage for Amenaide’s prison. A mix of white and black costumes adorn the forces of Argirio and Orbazzano, with red only putting in an appearance when Tancredi arrives. I can accept the “Generic Renaissance” feel of those uniforms, though the white and black dresses given to Amenaide and her servants look far too much like modern cocktail outfits for my tastes.
The acting is as good as can be expected under the circumstances, given the stiff theatrical forms that opera seria had degenerated into by the primo ottocento—and the nonsensical plot point that gives us the act I finale, and much of act II. (Amenaide, accused of selling out the Italians to their Muslim enemies, only has to point out her love letter without addressee was not going to their leader, Solamir, but intended for Tancredi. Instead, she spends much of the rest of the opera hiding that from everybody for no earthly reason, and being hated by all.) Pizzi’s performers move appropriately, interact well in recitatives and duets, and find expressive gestures during arias. There’s none of the turn-towards-the-audience-and-sing mentality one can still find in a surprising number of productions.
As for the performers, Barcellona is exceptional, by any standards, early or late 20th century. It’s quite a claim to make, I know, but it’s justified in this mezzo’s power, focus, broad range, extraordinary agility, darkly gleaming tone, and seemingly endless breath control. Perhaps best of all is the apparent ease in all she sings, the sense that reserves are never being called upon. I’m afraid this puts Darina Takova in the shadow, and it really shouldn’t; not with the velvety tone, varied colors, and fine phrasing she displays. Her duets with Barcellona are as among equals, and that’s saying a lot.
Marco Spotti is a wonderfully dark-voiced Orbazzano, while Raúl Giménez handles the difficulties of Argirio’s arias with gleaming tone and easy coloratura. Curiously, the soprano role of Roggiero (it was written to be performed travesti, and is usually recorded that way as well) is given to a male falsettist, Nicola Marchesini. He’s generally good, though at times slow in voicing his figurations, and lacks any variety in vocal color in his single aria—the curiously old-fashioned “Torni alfin ridente.”
Riccardo Frizza keeps things moving, works in tandem with his singers, and points the color of his orchestral soloists whenever Rossini permits. Andrea Bevilacqua is far more sensitive to what’s happening on stage than in an I Puritani he filmed four years later, with fluid camera movement but none of the quick, endless changes of viewpoint that marred that DVD.
In fact, the only truly negative factor in this DVD is Tancredi’s audience. While they occasionally go wild for Barcellona’s solos, especially and understandably “Di tanti palpiti,” nearly everything else is met with polite and short applause. They don’t seem to realize the kind of Golden Age performance they’re witnessing in the duet “Oh qual scegliesti,” or in the arias “Pensa che sei mia figlia” and “No, che il morir non è,” or so much more.
The picture format is 16:9, the audio formats PCM stereo and DD 5.1. Subtitles are in English, Italian, German, French, and Spanish. No extras are provided.
Worth getting? Definitely. Pizzi’s conception is thoughtful and imaginative, and elegantly carried out. The singing is, with the exception of Marchesini, superb. This is an excellent Tancredi.
FANFARE: Barry Brenesal Read less
Works on This Recording
Tancredi by Gioachino Rossini
Nicola Marchesini (Tenor),
Raúl Giménez (Tenor),
Barbara Di Castri (Mezzo Soprano),
Daniela Barcellona (Mezzo Soprano),
Darina Takova (Soprano),
Marco Spotti (Bass)
Florence Maggio Musicale Orchestra,
Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Written: 1813; Italy
Date of Recording: 10/2005
Venue: Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
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