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Puccini: Tosca


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Product Details

  • Actors: Fabio Armiliato, Teatro Carlo Felice
  • Directors: Marco Boemi
  • Format: AC-3, Classical, NTSC
  • Language: Italian
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • Release Date: Nov. 13 2012
  • Run Time: 142 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008VNIA8W
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #85,472 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marian G. Higgins on Oct. 21 2013
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The three singers are world class artists who are clearly on top of their game. They each inhabit the role they are playing, not only singing the part but equally important, acting the role. They are backed by a exceptional conductor and orchestra and I will no doubt listen and watch this recording time and time again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Don on Jan. 13 2013
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This is, on the whole, an excellent production. Angela Gheorghui and Jonas Kaufmann are perfect in the lead roles. My one complaint is with Bryn Terfel as the Baron Scarpia. Bryn also stars as the devil in my version of Faust. I have always pictured Scarpia and the devil as very sophisticated personages. Bryn is about as sophisticated as a bull rhinoceros in heat. His voice level is, for the most part, triple fortissimo. I do have a couple of questions. What possible use is a safe passage that is written on a piece of blood soaked paper and why is it necessary for the firing squad to march into position in slow motion?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By riddimdaddy on Jan. 11 2013
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
JUST VIEWED THIS PERFORMANCE OF TOSCA AND I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT .

A MASTERPIECE PERFORMANCE IN EVERY ASPECT, SOUND , VIDEO AND PERFORMANCE .

RIDDIMDADDY..... : )
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
A fine production and everything is good here except Terfel's shaggy hair and beard. Scarpia should be more elegant. However the singing and acting is superb. Video production is not too stagey. A must have and a good choice for only having one Tosca
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
Powerful performance with a cast that's hard to beat Sept. 19 2012
By Keris Nine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
In terms of concept, design and staging, there is nothing particularly innovative, imaginative, original or even too exciting about Jonathan Kent's direction for this 2011 Royal Opera House production of Tosca. It adheres to the period locations and action as they are laid out in the original libretto, each of the three acts recognisably taking place in specific locations in Rome - Act 1 in the church of Sant' Andrea, Act 2 in the Palazzo Farnese, Act 3 on top of the Castel Sant' Angelo - actual locations that have been used in the past for filmed versions of Puccini's opera. If there's little that is striking about the stage designs, which are functional at best, Kent stages the dramatic action within them to the full extent of the verismo realism that the opera calls out for. What distinguishes a good traditional production of Tosca from all the others however, and what makes this Royal Opera House production something special, is the casting and the ability of the performers to bring something of their own unique character and ability to the work. It's hard to imagine a more stellar contemporary cast in the three principal roles than the one assembled here.

As Floria Tosca, Angela Gheorghiu is the ultimate diva playing a diva - a fact that she acknowledges in her interviews and clearly relishes. Those characteristics can often be pushed a little too far with this particular singer, who often plays the diva whether it's called for or not, but here at least it's appropriate and Gheorghiu is totally convincing. It's more than just good casting of course, since, as ever, Gheorghiu sings superbly. And not just from a technical viewpoint - which is hard to fault - but it's also an impassioned performance that is perfectly judged with complete understanding of her character and fits in well with the overall tone of the whole production. Consummately professional then - you would expect no less - but Gheorghiu is also genuinely impressive on every level.

Jonas Kaufmann is another performer who continues to impress, slipping effortlessly into whatever role he plays with a great deal of personality, but more than impress, the manner in which he brings that extraordinary voice to bear on such familiar roles is absolutely astonishing and quite unlike any previous account you might have heard of that role, so far is it from a typical tenor voice. Powerfully controlled, his dark near-baritone boom makes his Cavaradossi here totally unlike Marcelo Alvarez or indeed any how any other classic tenor would perform the role. There is a fear that with such a powerful voice he could end up bellowing the words, particularly as there is ample opportunity for it, but Kaufmann retains complete control over the voice and the character, dropping it to quieter phrasing where it is required. I'm not totally convinced by the heroic nature of his performance here, which doesn't let in a great deal of humanity, but I suppose that's how Puccini mainly scores the role.

Bryn Terfel likewise has to make the most of how Scarpia is scored and try to strike a balance between a human and a caricature. He also sings wonderfully and certainly looks the part with enough physical presence and steel in his vocal delivery to make the evil pronouncements of the Chief of Police, heavily underscored as they are by Puccini, more than menacing enough, so the additional grimaces and sneers perhaps aren't all that necessary. The singing performances are all marvellous then, making the most of the roles and trying to find some balance and level of humanity in the characters - which isn't always easy in this opera - but best of all is how well they work together. On a vocal level the singing is perfectly complementary and there appears to be no struggle for dominance on the acting side either, each of them existing within their own characters but working with each other well. It makes it very easy then for the viewer to become wrapped up in the melodramatic events that occur over the 24 hour period of the story.

That's as much to do with the staging however, so while you can criticise Jonathan Kent's lack of imagination in the production design and the stage direction, it does at least work effectively on a dramatic level. Part of the reason for this is the decision not to downplay the opera's controversial depictions of violence. Make no mistake, it's all there in the libretto, from the extended torture scene through to the attempted rape, murder and executions, but some directors might choose to underplay these elements, particularly to mitigate against Puccini's full-blooded score. It's a difficult balance to maintain, and there's certainly no right or wrong way to do it. If you are aiming for realism in the set designs and you have singers who are also good actors, then it makes sense to let them fully enter into the roles and the cast here manage to do that without too much grimacing and operatic mannerisms. Matched with a perfectly judged performance of the Royal Opera House orchestra under Antonio Pappano, the result is an impressive, involving and near perfect account of Puccini's "shabby little shocker" as you could expect to see done anywhere in the world today.
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
A star-studied presentation that fully deserves a starry rating Oct. 26 2012
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
This recording of Tosca created from performances on July 14 and 17 in 2011 brings together artists of considerable renown for a short run. These are Angela Gheorghiu as Tosca, Jonas Kaufmann as Cavaradossi and Bryn Terfel as Scarpia. To these must be added the considerable expertise of the conductor, Antonio Pappano. The production by Jonathan Kent has become a staple fixture in the Royal Opera repertoire and is unashamedly `traditional' in its concept.

The combination of such talents raised expectations that something very special could be achieved. As one who has a number of recordings by all of these artists, I can honestly state that, in my opinion, none of them has delivered anything finer individually and that this combination has resulted in a recording of Tosca that is gripping from start to finish and may well have exceeded even the most optimistic hopes of all concerned.

It must be made clear from the start that this is certainly not the performance that anyone other than purchasers of this disc will have seen as this is a combination of two performances, and presumably the best of each, uniquely available on this disc. Others attending the same production will crucially have heard different combinations of the cast so are not in a position to comment about this particular disc. Even attenders of either of these two nights or those who watched the TV broadcast will still not have experienced this particular edited product. The editing is seamlessly done so the whole final product runs as if it was one live uninterrupted performance.

The production, as mentioned above, is traditional but very well observed and convincing. The slowed down, and thus more chilling, entry of the execution squad in act 3 would be one of many examples of dramatic flair. Perhaps the most controversial part is the decision to show Scarpia in an unkempt guise as that would not fit with a serial womaniser. There is another interpretation of this though. Scarpia's libretto makes it clear that he is not interested in wooing any woman but simply exults in his power over them. What better way to reinforce this than to show his utter contempt additionally through his personal appearance? Any woman thus abused would feel doubly defiled.

This is a more theatrical production than the fine Verona alternative which was effectively tailored to a much larger canvas. In more general terms, this new recording appropriately offers a more intimate and more subtle rendering of the opera in countless ways throughout and which can only be briefly touched on in a short review such as this and as follows:

The outstanding contribution of Pappano and his orchestra cannot be overstated. This is a very flexible account of pace, phrasing and dynamics creating great emotional contrasts. Moments of chilling or dramatic power are contrasted with swiftly following gentle and sensitive passages. Everything is tailored exactly to the drama being played out on stage. A small example of this detailed attention to precise coordination, just as you would expect with a ballet, can be observed after Scarpia's death as Tosca places the two candles by Scarpia before exiting. The very moment that each candlestick bottom touches the floor is precisely accompanied by a soft woodwind chord. Tempo is withheld throughout this sequence as it is performed in free-time and the effect is extraordinarily powerful. Other performances simply are not this accurate.

The main cast is of the highest calibre, although there have always been those who do not warm to Gheorghiu as either a singer or as an actor. In my opinion she is on superb form here and delivers an astonishing degree of passion, either in full voice or sotto voce. The tingle factor was high for both me and my wife. Bryn Terfel manages outshines his earlier fine performance of Scarpio under Riccardo Chailly. He exudes evil and has just the voice and body mass to match the intentions of Scarpia as he effortlessly towers over both of his victims. This seemed to be casting against type with the earlier Dutch recording but, even thus prepared, I have been struck by the development in the role. This must almost be definitive. Jonas Kaufmann has the enviable ability to really live his part while delivering singing of tonal magnificence. This has led him to considerable world renown which is fully justified here. His voice has a similar tonal silkiness to my ears to that of Gheorghiu's and thus makes an ideal vocal match between the two. In addition, both Gheorghiu and Kaufmann have the right degrees of physical attraction and relative ages that make this a dramatically convincing coupling thus reinforcing the effectiveness of the drama.

The supporting roles are equally effective. The Sacristan, well sung and acted by Jeremy White, has far more character than usual. Little details like his tongue protruding as he concentrates all add to the impression of a subordinate character that could easily be controlled by Scarpia. Lucas Jakobski's Angelotti is also more strongly drawn than usual which is in line with his dramatic role as a suspected revolutionary. Hubert Francis, as a slim Spoletta, brings a level of vindictive evil to match that of the far larger physical presence of Terfel.

The camera work is totally engrossing and fully engages with the production. The imaging achieves a state-of the-art HD crispness and colour definition. The sound spectacularly captures the outstanding performance of the orchestra and the balance of the singers seems excellent to me. The sound is presented in DTS 5.1 and stereo. There is an 8 minute introduction included which is well presented by Pappano.

This is a star-studied production and has obviously aimed high. In my opinion it has hit all the targets and now stands as an outstanding modern version to join the fine but totally different modern production at Verona plus other fine recordings from previous generations. The audience were justifiably and wildly enthusiastic at Covent Garden in my opinion with a marked absence of the famed English reserve! On that basis, it seems likely that most purchasers of this disc to be equally enthusiastic and therefore a 5 star rating seems totally reasonable. This will not be a disc for those who do not respond to this sort of production or these singers of course, but that is not the remit of this review.

In conclusion I would suggest that this disc should warrant at least serious consideration from any purchasers looking for a fine modern recording of this popular opera.

........................................

Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

Hi Ian
Just ordered this for Christmas !
Colette (UK review)

Keep on writing reviews, please, this is just well done. Greetings.. (UK 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...
Thank you (UK review)

I'd also add to this. When you in particular review a particular CD, I pay pretty close attention. I would say the characteristics of your reviews I value the most are the detail and general sense of balance and fairness that comes across. That's a great help. Thanks for taking the time on your reviews. (US review)

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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.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The best vocal characterisation of Floria Tosca on record! March 28 2013
By Virginia K. Jensen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
Since I love Puccini's music a lot, and Tosca particularly so, I have gathered at home quite a collection of older recordings and more recent DVDs with the full opera. I have also seen it performed on stage a half dozen times. Angela Gheorghiu accomplishes a truly outstanding rendition of Floria Tosca, clearly surpassing in musicianship and vocal characterization older renditions by Callas (I have in mind the Callas- Di Stefano disc), Tebaldi (both Tebaldi - del Monaco disc and Tebaldi - Di Stefano), Kabaivanska (Kabaivanska - Domingo disc), L. Price (Price - Corelli disc), S. Verrett (Verrett - Pavarotti disc) and M. Freni (Freni - Pavarotti disc).

I won't bother enumerating the more contemporary recordings (Cedolins, Magee), because they are so far behind in quality that they will soon be forgotten.

As if Gheorghiu's performance wasn't enough of a marvel, this recording also benefits from a strong Cavaradossi (Kaufmann) and a very distinctive Scarpia (Bryn Terfel). Pappano's conducting is a further demonstration of his elective affinity for Puccini's musical universe.

+ If you want to hear Gheorghiu singing Tosca live, buy your tickets for September 2013, Vienna State Opera (four performances).
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding March 28 2013
By J. Livolsi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
One of the best renditions of tosca I have seen . Angela is superb on this role . I always enjoy hearing her sing.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Tremendous Tosca March 4 2013
By Ian Kershaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Magnificent! The best live performance of Tosca I have ever seen, and indeed one one the finest DVDs of any opera I have come across. Angela Gheorghiu is at the top of her game, a performance to cherish along with her Mimi and Violetta. Jonas Kaufmann is in great voice and makes a very attractive Cavaradossi. And I can't imagine a better Scarpia than Bryn Terfel's - the slimiest, most lecherously evil performance of the role I could imagine, and wonderfully sung. The overall production/staging is excellent and Pappano draws an invigorating, exciting performance from the Royal Opera House Orchestra. Overall, a most vigorous, exhilarating and yes, beautiful performance of Puccini's great work.

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