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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Singing Soap Operas, 3 Sep 2012
By 
Entartete Musik (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Puccini: Il Trittico [Opus Arte: OA1070D] [DVD] [2011] [NTSC] [2012] (DVD)
Opera on DVD is a hit and miss affair. Transfers rarely replicate the original scale and power. Yet there are corners of the repertoire that work exceptionally well on screen. Puccini, in all his soap-opera-cum-opera glory, is at the top of that list. And, given the dramatic and musical concision of Il trittico, Richard Jones's incisive and uncynical 2011 production for The Royal Opera turns out spectacular when seen and heard up close.

Having popped up on BBC4 on three consecutive Fridays during the Spring, Opus Arte has now released the production on a three-disc set. Il tabarro is played out in a post-Genet world of blackness and resentment. As in the theatre, Lucio Gallo proves a glowering Michele. Jones and his Giorgetta Eva-Maria Westbroek might have found just a ray of hope in the story but, as Antonio Pappano indicates from the pit, this is a decidedly bleak curtain raiser.

Suor Angelica provided a real surprise live. Its mawkish sensibilities would normally have prompted world-weariness from Jones. But, while he keeps religion at a distance, the production never doubts the sincerity of its characters, with Ermonela Jaho amazing in the title role. Goaded by Anna Larsson's Princess, a statuesque treacle-voiced gorgon if ever there was one, Jaho unleashes her frustrations before singing a markedly bruised 'Senza Mamma'.

After that wash of tears comes the palate cleanser of Gianni Schicchi. This is the best move from stage to screen. Like an episode of a downtrodden soap, Buoso Donati's relatives are played out in all their Technicolor hideousness. But Jones never overplays his hand and Puccini's superb triptych ends on a remarkably wistful note (again captured well by Pappano and the ROH orchestra). Given the considerable endeavour in staging this masterpiece, it may take a while to be revived. Meantime these films offer a happy reminder of a great night at the opera.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ortonesque, 17 July 2012
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This review is from: Puccini: Il Trittico [Opus Arte: OA1070D] [DVD] [2011] [NTSC] [2012] (DVD)
I have seen quite a few Gianni Schicchis but this is only the second version that I have seen of Puccini's triptych, the other being the excellent Met recording from 2007. At the time, it seemed difficult to imagine a better Trittico but I think this new production from Covent Garden is superior in all three parts. In each part Puccini demonstrates his mastery of ensemble writing and develops a large cast of characters in a short time. In Il Tabarro, we get a vivid description of life on the Seine at the turn of the 20th century with Eva-Maria Westbroeck as the frustrated younger wife of the boorish Michele.

The main surprise is in Suor Angelica which is set, not in a nunnery, but in a ward of a childrens' sanatorium with the nuns doing the nursing. This generally works well in playing down the Sound Of Music aspect of the story. It is a bit of a stretch making Angelica the herbalist rather than a gardener. We see soprano Ermonela Jaho blissfully grinding herbs in the middle of the ward. Director Richard Jones baulks at Puccini's ending where the dying Angelica is welcomed into heaven by the Virgin Mary and her dead son. I, for one, was grateful for this outbreak of good taste.

Best of all is the gaudy 1950s version of Gianni Schicchi with a large cast of avaricious relatives carrying a corpse around the stage propped up between them to conceal the body from the lawyer. Joe Orton came to mind. Lucio Gallo is a sly, comic delight in the title role.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most enjoyable, 7 July 2012
By 
I. Zaneres (west midlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Puccini: Il Trittico [Opus Arte: OA1070D] [DVD] [2011] [NTSC] [2012] (DVD)
The three one act operas are concerned with basic emotions, jealousy, greed and mental disturbance. In The cloak, the plot slowly drip feeds from snatches of conversation, with the excellent Eva Marie Westbroek, who acts brilliantly in everything that I have seen her do, and Lucio Gallo, ably supported by the many small roles, which all require characterisation. The set is a wharf on river and canal, attention to minor details means that more than one viewing is needed to spot the finesse of the working environment. All of this leads up to a terrible conclusion, with the almost invisible moods of Puccinis music.
Sister Angelica is set in a hospital run by an order of nuns, with a simple dropping of scenery one moves from ward to outside. Again as in The Cloak the plot is teased out of conversations in music. We see a madness take hold of the lead character, as her tragic life is revealed Jaho leads an emotionally charged performance, with support from the other lead character Larsson and an able cast of minor roles. Again this has a terrible conclusion with no peace of mind for the misplaced solution of the sister as she realises what she has done.
Gianni Scicchi has been modernised slightly from what I have seen in my other two versions, and apart from some anomolies from references to justice and the value of certain assets, works very well. Lucio Gallo reveals a different side to his talents, The strong cast who all work hard in an ever changing mix of ensembles perform very well, and Ekaterina Siurina does a great jib of the famous aria. the other lyric role of her boyfriend is also ably sung. Marie McLaughlin is also a long standing favourite of mine. The single set is amusingly lit and has a host of suprises as the story unfolds.
I thorougly recommend this production, but I would say the same about the Met offering, why not have both!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous., 23 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Puccini: Il Trittico [Opus Arte: OA1070D] [DVD] [2011] [NTSC] [2012] (DVD)
Saw this production live in the house and this dvd just gives us the close up and nuances that I missed at Covent Garden.
The problem is that Richard Jones (GENIUS DIRECTOR) has spoilt it and I do not want to see another production of this amazing piece.
Il Tabarro was hot, sweaty and raw with a bit of a sexy under current.
Soeur Angelica - well just watch it - it is unbearably heart breaking. Mme. Jaho just amazing gives it her everything.
Gianni Schicci - absolutely brilliant. Very funny and I remember in the house just throwing my arms up into the air at the last chord and joining my fellow patrons in the cheering.
Nights at the opera like this are very few and far between. I urge you but this and enjoy what will become a landmark CG production.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets?, 19 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Puccini: Il Trittico [Opus Arte: OA1070D] [DVD] [2011] [NTSC] [2012] (DVD)
This was a landmark production for the Royal Opera and I don't think I'll see a better one. Cast to perfection in all three of the sections with the orchestra under the baton of Pappano, surely the finest interpreter of the Italian repertoir in the world today, it doesn't put a foot wrong. The production of the middle opera Suor Angelica, in particular, is a revelation. The seering performances of Ermonela Jaho as Angelica and Anna Larson as the Countess lift this (usually) sickly sentimental tale into the realms of tragedy. It's well directed for the DVD too, without the use of too many close ups.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Three Wonderful Masterpieces, 11 Jan 2013
This review is from: Puccini: Il Trittico [Opus Arte: OA1070D] [DVD] [2011] [NTSC] [2012] (DVD)
On receiving this set I first returned to my other recording of the three one act operas that from La Scala in the 1980's conducted by Gianandrea Gavazzeni, and highly impressed I was too! However, after watching this new production from Covent Garden, the La Scala comes off second best, yes there is some very fine singing in the La Scala production with some standout performances, but on the whole the singing is of a more universally higher standard with the casts being more evenly balanced. It is not just the singing either, it may be that the La Scala production is now nearly 30 years old, but he orchestral sound has more presence in this new set while the settings and costumes also have more opulence and impact than in the La Scala Production!
Lucio Gallo deserves special mention and not just because he appears in two of the three operas, as Michele in Il Tabaro and as Gianni Schicchi, and while he is impressive in both roles he dose on occasion sound as if he is at the edge of his range as Michele, but this is only once or twice and not enough to spoil the listeners pleasure of what is a fine performance. The soprano, Ermonela Jaho, also deserves a mention as her portrayal of Sour Angelica is wonderful, she has a youthful timbre to her voice which brings a sense of intensity as well as vulnerability in the role.
As mentioned above, all the singing on this set is of a very high standard, and this applies to the Royal Opera Chorus who are also in very fine voice, with the Orchestra being in excellent form under Pappano, indeed musically, these productions are going to take some beating. They are thoughtfully directed by Richard Jones, nothing to outlandish, although he does set the action of Sour Angelica on a ward of a children's hospital, and this adds to the enjoyment of the operas.
A really enjoyable set and one which deserves the highest recommendation!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding performances, 18 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Puccini: Il Trittico [Opus Arte: OA1070D] [DVD] [2011] [NTSC] [2012] (DVD)
Having seen these performances live, this recording both reminded and enhaced the memories. Suoer Angelica is outstanding. pappano as always gives w world class performance.
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