Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Santa Fe: Secondary Mozart in First Rate Staging

Impresario Boris Goldovsky famously referred to La finta giardiniera as The Phony Farmerette.

Regimented Daughter in Santa Fe

At Santa Fe Opera, Donizetti’s effervescent The Daughter of the Regiment can’t quite decide what it wants to be when it grows up.

Santa Fe’s Celebratory Jester

Santa Fe Opera noted a landmark two-thousandth performance in their distinguished history with a stylish new production of Rigoletto.

Sibelius Kullervo, BBC Proms, London

Why did Jean Sibelius suppress Kullervo (Op7, 1892)? There are many theories why he didn't allow it to be heard after its initial performance, though he referred to it fondly in private.

Aïda at Aspen

Most opera professionals, including the individuals who do the casting for major houses, despair of finding performers who can match historical standards of singing in operas such as Aïda. Yet a concert performance in Aspen gives a glimmer of hope. It was led by four younger singers who may be part of the future of Verdi singing in America and the world.

Prom 53: Shostakovich — Orango

One might have been forgiven for thinking that both biology and chronology had gone askew at the Royal Albert Hall yesterday evening.

Written on Skin at Lincoln Center

Three years ago I made what may have been my single worst decision in a half century of attending opera. I wasn’t paying close attention when some conference organizers in Aix-en-Provence offered me two tickets to the premiere of a new opera. I opted instead for what seemed like a sure thing: William Christie conducting some Charpentier.

Pesaro’s Rossini Festival 2015

The 36th Rossini Opera Festival in Rossini’s Pesaro! La gazza ladra (1817), La gazzetta (1816) and L'inganno felice (1812) — the little opera that made Rossini famous.

Santa Fe: Placid Princess of Judea

Unlike the brush fire in a distant neighborhood of the John Crosby Theatre, Santa Fe Opera’s Salome stubbornly failed to ignite.

Airy and Bucolic Glimmerglass Flute

As part of a concerted effort to incorporate local color and resonance into its annual festival, Glimmerglass has re-imagined The Magic Flute in a transformative woodland setting.

Glimmerglass Conquers Cato

Bravura singing and vibrant instrumental playing were on ample display in Glimmerglass Festival’s riveting Cato in Utica.

Energetic Glimmerglass Candide

Bernstein’s Candide seems to have more performance versions than Tales of Hoffmann.

Die Eroberung von Mexico in Salzburg

That’s The Conquest of Mexico, an historical music drama composed in 1991 by German composer Wolfgang Rihm (b. 1952). But wait. Wolfgang Rihm construed a few sentences of Artaud’s La Conquête du Mexique (1932) mixed up with bits of Aztec chant and bits of poem(s) by Mexico’s Octavio Paz (d. 1998) to make a libretto.

Scottish Sensation at Glimmerglass

Glimmerglass is celebrating its 40th Festival season with a stylish new production of Verdi’s Macbeth.

Norma in Salzburg

This Salzburg Norma is not new news. This superb production was first seen at the Salzburg Festival’s springtime Whitsun Festival in 2013 with this same cast. It will now travel to a few major European cities.

The power of music: a young cast in a semi-stage account of Monteverdi’s first opera

John Eliot Gardiner conducted a much anticipated performance of Monteverdi’s first opera L’Orfeo at the BBC Proms on 4 August 2015, with his own Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.

Cold Mountain Wows Audience at Santa Fe World Premiere

On August 1, 2015, Santa Fe Opera presented the world premiere of Cold Mountain, a brand new opera composed by Pulizer Prize and Grammy winner Jennifer Higdon.

Review: You Promised Me Everything

Richard Taruskin entitled his 1988 polemical critique of the notion of ‘authenticity’ in the context of historically informed performance, ‘The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past’.

Manon Lescaut, Munich

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. Some will scream in rage but in its austerity it reaches to the heart of the opera.

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Dynamic DVD 33569
19 Apr 2010

Tosca at Torre del Lago, 2007

Opera festival DVDs often seem to be produced as tempting advertisements meant to induce viewers to consider a trip to that festival for the next season.

Giacomo Puccini: Tosca

Floria Tosca: Antonia Cifrone; Mario Cavaradossi: Stefano Secco; Il barone Scarpia: Giorgio Surian; Cesare Angelotti: Riccardo Ferrari; Spoletta: Massimo La Guardia; Il Sagrestano: Franco Boscolo; Sciarone: Fernado Ciuffo. Orchestra and Chorus of Festival Puccini. Conductor: Valerio Galli. Director: Mario Corradi. Festival Puccini, Torre del Lago, 2007.

Dynamic 33569 [2DVDs]

$39.49  Click to buy

Thus, this recording of Tosca at the 2007 Puccini festival in Torre del Lago opens with a travelogue sequence, with beautiful shots of the lake and then film of the handsomely attired audience arriving for the show. The actual staging may not be to the taste of every potential opera tourist, but the ecstatic response of the live audience, as recorded, suggests that a good time is there for the having.

Igor Mitoraj’s sets aren’t much more than a few short pedestals and a canopy bed oddly situated in Scarpia’s office, all lain out in front of what appears to be an open backstage, clothed in darkness. As is typical in these minimalist set stagings, the costumes (also by Mitoraj) offer more visual interest, if not originality. Some may wonder why in act two, Tosca’s gown for the cantata features a red serpent pinned to her breast. These same wondering folk may ask why Scarpia’s henchmen are already on stage as the opera opens, ambling away casually as Angelotti, supposedly breathless, stands stock still. An opera as popular as Tosca leads directors to search out fresh approaches, but director Mario Corradi’s ideas mostly smack of desperation. He does manage a fairly nice twist with “Vissi d’arte,” however, with Scarpia leading Tosca onto his bed, from where she sings her prayer while he lounges next to her, patiently awaiting his sensual reward.

Antonia Ciffrone has all the physical attributes of a great Tosca - a wild mane of black hair, beauty and sensuality, a passion veering into the hysterical. The voice, while nothing special, manages the role’s challenges without too much stress. Even better is Stefano Secco as Cavaradossi. Handsomer men have taken the role, but Secco sounds like a major tenor here, keeping a lyric line and yet able to muster the power for the more violent passages. Scarpias often steal the show, but not here, with Giorgio Surian bellowing and warbling, while offering nothing new to the usual portrayal of the sadistic lecher.

The Festival Puccini orchestra, surprisingly, sounds tentative at times under Valerio Galli’s baton, especially the slightly sickly winds. They seem to be a smaller force as well, under-powered at key moments. The audio is clear and clean but with a flat perspective that suggests either amplification or the most perfectly placed microphones imaginable.

The market does not lack for greater versions of this Puccini masterpiece, but for those who love this opera, this DVD will still prove of some entertainment value.

Chris Mullins

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):