66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Puccini's trilogy `Il Trittico' has three very contrasting one act operas, each lasting for about one hour and intended to be performed in the course of a single evening. They were composed in the order in which they were written with Il Tabarro (The Cloak) opening the set and Gianni Schicchi being the final part. In between was positioned Suor Angelica.
The most popular of these three has always been the rather dark, but always amusing, comedy Gianni Schicchi and for that reason it is often separated from the other two operas and paired up with some other short opera. One of the most successful pairings of this sort in recent years was the Glyndebourne production coupling Gianni with the fine Miserly Knight by Rachmaninov. This probably remains the most successful Gianni but is not really a relevant comparison in this case because of its `wrong' coupling.
To continue with this production therefore: The first thing to note is that when this trilogy was mounted in 2011 it received what amounted to rave reviews right across the whole of the British press. Without wasting any more time I would like to state categorically that I totally agree with this general assessment. The staging of all three is updated beyond the original intended period but at no time did I find this to be a distraction. Indeed I found that, if anything, the settings added to the impact of each opera and especially to the first two. The orchestral playing under the inspired direction of Pappano was simply outstanding and the pacing of each drama was as near to ideal as possible.
Il Tabarro is a tale of inevitable tragedy and eventual revenge killing. The brooding atmosphere builds steadily and remorselessly in this production with excellent singing and acting by all three of the main cast - Lucio Gallo as Michele, Eva-Maria Westbroek as Giorgetta and Aleksandra Antonenko as Luigi. The supporting cast is equally excellent. This is a fine and very convincing performance.
Suor Angelica is an upsetting tale of extreme punishment where religion is used as an evil tool by a cruel relative to achieve victimisation and eventual disinheritance of a young woman in her `care'. This is a very hard-hitting tale indeed and in a performance such as this reaches almost unbearable levels of pain for the viewer. This is in no small part the result of a quite exceptional performance by Ermonela Jano as Sister Angelico who delivers a performance of such intensity that one fears for her personal peace of mind. Unlike the audience at the Royal Opera, I took a break half way through this to recompose myself ready for the distressing conclusion. This is a remarkable performance but one which I may not wish to watch very often.
The set concludes with a fine performance of Gianni Schicchi, a dark comedy which achieves considerable levels of sustained humour centred around the efforts to change the will of a recently deceased relative and where the snobbish and grasping behaviour of the surviving relatives is suitably rewarded! Lucio Gallo manages to change from the murderous husband of Il Tabarro into the humorous Gianni Schicchi with complete aplomb and is well supported by the rest of the cast. This last opera is very much an ensemble piece and in this performance the ensemble works very well together towards a satisfying conclusion.
The recording offers sharp imaging and involving camera work supported by fine sound in DTS-HD surround and stereo. Antonio Pappano provides introductions to the operas and there is a feature taking the viewer behind the scenes. The extras amount to 20 minutes of playing time. The main attraction must remain the trilogy of performances however and this, as was stated at the start, is a particularly successful set.
It seems likely that this disc should give much satisfaction to the great majority of Puccini followers and as such seems to be well worth a full 5 star rating. I would suggest that this performance and production should therefore warrant serious consideration from any purchasers looking for a fine modern recording of this trilogy.
Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:
Excellent Review, Ian! (UK. review)
My Public Library has the Glyndebourne Gianni Schicchi DVD, which is a DELIGHT, particularly the Acting (U.K. review)
If you enjoy the BBC Version, Martin, you should get the Blu-Ray, as the Audio and Video will be far superior!! (U. K. review)
I think you're right, I am changing my DVD collection of classics to Blu-ray and the difference is incredible. (U. K. review)
I agree with you. The music, the acting, the voices were all fine, however the updating was not too convincing, Sour Angelica should not be taken out of the convent, here she is singing about the power of the flowers from which she is distilling the poison necessary to end her life and then she is taking pills to overdose and die?
The nursing nuns in an obviously modern hospital making a big deal over a piece of fresh cheese from the country and so on.
In this Tabarro Michele kills Luigi not with a knife but with a chord, and yet Luigi is screaming "Drop the knife"
Maybe in this case it was a disavantage being fluid in Italian.
But overall, it was a great Trittico, I thought that the acting and singing of Sour Angelica and the Aunt were exciting.
This is a performance that I will watch many times. (U.S. review)
I own the Glyndebourne Schicchi and in my opinion it is the best Schicchi on DVD.
Thanks for mentioning it. After I received your e-mail I took it out and viewed it again.
It's really great. Corbelli was outstanding. I also liked him very much as Dandini in the DVD of La Cenerentola with Cecilia Bartoli.
I noticed that Marie McLaughlin sings the same part that she sang in the Covent Garden Blu-ray that we viewed recently. (U.S. review)
I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)
I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)
I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
Keep up the good work!
Thank you (UK review)
A note to the anonymous negative voters:
The voting system is specifically only about reviews being 'helpful' or 'unhelpful'
Goodness only knows what you find to be `unhelpful' about this review.
A negative vote without reason is not helpful to anyone. It does not contribute in any useful way to discussion so no-one can learn from you.
If you have a different view or find the review 'unhelpful' then explain, giving your reasons, and share your views in the comment option as intended.
Significantly, I know of at least one good reviewer who has finally given up with anonymous negative votes such as has been experienced here and deleted all his reviews. The loss to the whole collecting community is his considerable knowledgeable advice and the gain is his own free time. He cannot be persuaded to return to writing reviews despite my repeated encouragement.
Anonymous negative votes without supporting reasons can have other negative results that you may not have thought of.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Although Westbroek is much older and less glamorous than the sexy Nizza in the TDK set, a tired and rather run down barge owner's wife fits the part equally well. All the cast in Il Tabarro were good and Luigi and Frugola specially so. The lighting is a bit too dark in my view so you need to watch this in a room with minimal lighting. The Suor Angelica sets are rather different but I did not find they deviated too much from the spirit of the piece and the colour and costumes were quite impressive. I did not feel Larsson was quite evil enough as the Princess but there were some delightful touches in the nursing sisters. This was the best of the three in my view although Gianni Schicci could have been perfect if the visual image had not been degraded by a greatly over-blown blotchy wallpaper and constantly flickering on and off lighting that made my eyes tired and took the focus off the cast who were universally excellent. The extras are good and are well worth viewing.
Overall I felt this set was a bit better than the earlier TDK release although I enjoyed both. It has a much sharper image and a more attractive feel to the staging. I must however mention the even earlier Gianni Schicci with the incomparable Corbelli, one of the greatest of Italian buffo singers. I think this is the best of all but of course it is not a complete set. There is still room for another go and I love my old CD of del Monaco and Tebaldi in Il Tabarro.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
An essay in the booklet for the Blu-ray release of the Royal Opera House's 2011 production of Puccini's Il Trittico remarks that there's always a temptation to try and find a common theme between the three short operas that the composer wrote to be performed together, but that essentially they were written mainly to complement each other only in so far as the contrast they provide. That still doesn't stop producers (or those writing about the work) from trying to find connections between them. Antonio Pappano in his introduction here sees the overall theme as deception, which I like, and it's a useful theme to keep in mind, but although there could be other commonalities found between the works - young love and dreams being stifled or weighed down by events from the past - the main uniting theme is indeed the diversity of the works. Il Trittico will make you laugh and it will make you cry - you can count on that - but, should you want to, there's a wealth of riches to explore here in Puccini's masterful scoring and the variety of themes that he covers.
The variety of the subjects and the manner in which they are written and played out however is more than just for the entertainment of the audience (although this is evidently the primary consideration and there is something for everyone here), but it seem to me that they are also purposely diverse in subject matter, tone and treatment in order to give Puccini as much scope as possible to stretch himself and develop into new musical areas that had been opened up in the post-Wagner world of 20th century opera. Even if the romantic melodrama of Il Tabarro or the tragic opera heroine theme of Suor Angelica are familiar areas for Puccini (the comedy of Gianni Schicchi is however another matter entirely), one can see that he is working musically outside the comfort zone of traditional Italian opera arrangements and arias, working within the constraints of the shorter form in order to concentrate on finding the purest expression of the dramatic and emotional content of the works. In each of the works - even in the comic form - Puccini is looking to create music that goes beyond illustrating the action of the drama and the libretto, abandoning even the aria as the conventional operatic means of character expression.
Pappano makes reference to the influence of Debussy and impressionism, which is most obviously evident in the opening sounds of the canal dockyard blending into the music itself in Il Tabarro, creating a perfectly evocative atmosphere for the dark, misty setting, but the music throughout seems to express the underlying social context, the inner lives of the characters and their pasts, as much as it illustrates the dramatic events that occur in the present. There is also considerable maturity in the through composition of Suor Angelica and in Puccini's attempt here not so much to accompany the action as much as describe the otherworldly aspects that drive it, seeking to express a deeper, more complex view of extreme and very specific female emotions where a sense of motherhood has been denied and is at the same time caught up in religious devotion and monastic discipline. The comic opera is certainly not a style you would associate with Puccini, but his treatment of the humour in Gianni Schicchi meanwhile is nothing short of brilliant. He finds an almost furtive, subtle, insidious expression for the Donati family's group of greedy, grasping, backstabbing, moneygrubbers in all their scheming self-importance. It's dazzling to hear how a composer of Puccini's experience and maturity handles himself in this unfamiliar register.
Richard Jones' sets for each of the three short works match the tone of the production, striking a good balance between the narrative realism that is required and the deeper themes suggested by Puccini's score, with simple but telling touches. The singing, vitally important to capture the nuance that is necessary in such short works, is also excellent in each of the pieces. Il Tabarro has a strong Giorgetta in Eva-Maria Westbroek, who works powerfully with Aleksandrs Antonenko's Luigi, while Lucio Gallo is a dark and intense Michele, even if he doesn't have quite the required weight and presence. He's a much better fit as the seedy scheming lawyer Gianni Schicchi. Ermonela Jaho not only sings Suor Angelica exceptionally well, but she is completely involved in a role that demands acting of concentrated intensity. It's Antonio Pappano's contribution to the production as a whole however that proves to be the critical factor in its overall resounding success. All this richness and diversity, the sense of fun and drama, along with the serious musicological insight and consideration of the deeper qualities of the work is borne out in Pappano's conducting of the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, who give a mesmerising performance. With excellent casting and singing, and an appropriate staging, you really couldn't ask for more.
Opus Arte however also package the set extremely well. In addition to the impeccable technical presentation on Blu-ray, with a crystal clear High Definition transfer and outstanding HD sound mixes in LPCM stereo and DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 that reproduce the music and the singing exceptionally well, each of the three hour-long operas are presented separately and given their own optional introduction that briefly sets out the premise and the treatment. An additional Extra Feature follows Lucio Gallo through make-up, warm-up and last-minute preparations with the conductor for his two roles as Michele and Gianni Schicchi. The full-HD Blu-ray is region-free, dual layer BD50, with English, French, German, Spanish and Italian subtitles.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
First rate in every respect. These recorded performances richly deserve all the praise that's been heaped on them from multiple sources, including Gramophone, which called the DVD issue "a high point for live opera on DVD." But don't take my word for it. Take a look at the clips on youtube and see for yourself.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I don't have much to add to the previous reviews since this does represent a high level of excellence. Puccini had a unique ability to turn up harmonies that never cease to amaze me. He could find exactly the right harmony for every phrase. Since the field of view on the screen is often large, one really needs to see these operas on the large screen and the effects will be lost without a good sound system. A difficulty with opera is that the ideally, the characters should 'look the part' while being able to sing the score. This one does remarkable well.