Massive production, dramatic presence
bujoldfan | USA | 03/02/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The other review does not reference THIS production. The singers the reviewer comments on DO NOT SING in this production, it is a different cast.
This production has the following cast:
Tosca, Eva Marton
Cavaradossi, Giocomo Aragall
Scarpia, Ingvar Wixell
Angelotti, Alfredo Giacomotti
Sacrestan, Graziano Polidori
Spoletta, Mario Ferrara
Gaoler, Gianni Brunelli
Shepherd, Mario Bonizzato
Chorus and Orchestra of the Arena di Verona
Chorus Master, Tullio Boni
Conductor, Daniel Oren
Sets and costumes, Lorenzo Giorgi
Directed for television by Brian Large
The tape is by HBO Cannon Video, in Stereo HiFi sound
The Arena di Verona is a huge open air Roman ampitheatre. The stage is set at one end, and you get an impression of the size of the place when the camera pulls back. But the director is Brian Large so you get lots of tight close-up shots and close group ensemble shots. The picture is never static - even when nothing is happening onstage (which is rarely in this opera) there is still camera movement so it stays interesting.
The singers have huge voices and are able to characterize well with them. Eva Marton as Tosca is not the most subtle of the singers I have heard in this role by a long shot, but she convincingly portrays Tosca's emotions and you never doubt that she will have the strength to kill Scarpia. Wixell plays a mean Scarpia. I have heard other singers pull back from playing the role fully - they always seem to be playing a little to the audience, saying something like Isn't my wickedness and voice beautiful? Not Wixell - he invests himself fully in the role and you are glad when the lights go out on act 2.
Aragall has a beautiful voice for the role of Cavaradossi, and sings his arias well. In his big Act 2 moment when she challenges Scarpia, one is tempted to rise and cheer him on. The sacristan isn't played as a fool, as usual, but as someone fully compliant with Scarpia's wishes.
It's a very interesting production."
Lacking in chemistry
bujoldfan | 11/17/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Too bad. Because Renata Tebaldi's voice is beautiful, as usual, although I have heard her Vissi d'arte done better. She seemed to be straining somewhat. Her chemistry with Cavaradossi was so lacking you find yourself wondering if they ever really were lovers. No passionate kiss when he is supposedly about to die, etc. George London is the big winner here. Although I have heard his "Te Deum" also done better, his overall Scarpia is excellently conceived, and his byplay with Tebaldi in Act 2 makes this act the strongest one. Eugene Tobin's Cavaradossi looked stiff and out of place. He has a sweet voice but often sings off key in the middle register! His high notes can be quite beautiful and his "E lucevan le stelle" was beautifully done. The orchestration lacks the power necessary to make those goosebumps appear. The grainy texture of black and white carries no subtitles."