Puccini: Tosca -- 2002 Film Version [DVD]
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Benoit Jacquot's filmed Tosca treads a fine line between operatic staginess and cinematic contrivance. As per the libretto, each act takes place in a single setting, but with the singers here miming to a pre-recorded soundtrack. Jacquot freely reminds us of the conceit with cutaways to the recording session itself--revealing conductor, orchestra and soloists at work--thus a bridge is made between the on-screen action and the music-making itself, and the inherent duality of any opera production is laid refreshingly bare. The same cannot be said for the director's decision to interpolate spoken dialogue over the music in key places--a distraction not an enhancement.
Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna are glamorous and attractive enough to make the most of their Hollywood-style close-ups; their singing easily bears similar close scrutiny--as anyone who owns the CD soundtrack album will surely already know. If Alagna lacks a little power as Cavaradossi on record, his charismatic screen presence happily compensates; Gheorghiu is both vocally and physically almost ideal as Tosca. Ruggero Raimondi's Scarpia completes an outstanding trio, and in the pit (or, rather, in the studio) conductor Antonio Pappano handles the drama of Puccini's score without missing a single nuance. Both musically and visually, then, this is a Tosca to treasure.
On the DVD: Tosca on disc looks vibrant in this warm, widescreen picture accompanied by a DTS 5.1 soundtrack. Three filmed interviews--with Gheorghiu, Pappano and Jacquot--provide some insight into the making of this production. --Mark WalkerSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This film is a disappointment, there is fantastic singing and acting from Angela Gheorghiu a wonderful performance. The direction by Benoit Jacquot is best described as student arthouse, it presents as a low cost effort. The big scenes are pathetic. The action switches from a wet Wednesday in a recording studio to semi staged studio action - could have worked put poorly delivered. The Te Deum is filmed by the camera continuously rotating around Scarpia (no other actors are shown) and ends with what is supposed to be a terrifying facial, however the viewer is so dizzy you want to switch the wretched thing off.
The production is distracting in the extreme.
The stage performances are good, but the whole thing is marred by at intervals the view suddenly flashing with no warning from the stage to a rehearsal room with the singers out of costume & orchestra in shirtsleeves (without a break in the music!).
At the opera, whether in the operahouse or watching a dvd I want to watch the story being performed and sung while "suspending disbelief" and almost "living the story" as it were.
This is a new way of filming opera and it works brilliantly, not least with the out and in character shots where the singers record their roles as the opera progresses. I also thought that the brief spoken parts were extremely evocative, in particular that between Tosca and Cavaradossi when she expressed her jealousy over his painting and he reassures her of how much he worships and adores her. The off screen lovers Alagna and Gheorghiu bring an added depth to this love and their kisses have added emotion. As Scarpia, Ruggero Raimondi is physically terrifying, his saturnine good looks combined with his icy stare sending shivers down the spine and bringing to the fore all of Scarpia's twisted sexuality. A bravura performance from a magnificent artist. Gheorghiu plays the coquettish spitfire that is Floria Tosca to perfection and her voice has seldom been more soaring and pure. Alagna wrenches the heart. A triumphant Cavaradossi.
Any doubters should watch the three added extras:interveiws with Gheorghiu, the director, and 'Maestro' Antonio Pappano. To question the Royal Opera House's intelligence in being involved with the film is ridiculous-they obviously were in agreement with what was going on and 'Maestro' Pappano himself is very enthusiastic about the project and what it achieves. This 'Tosca' is vibrant, dark, sensual and evil all rolled in to one. A version to watch more than once to relish each nuance. Puccini would have been PROUD.
Benoit Jacquot does not seem to be too well-versed in the grammar of moviemaking. He manages a very shaky balance between the melodrama of the action, induced by the music, and the naturalism of the cinema verité-inspired recording sessions in everyday clothes. It is plain affectation when for instance the tenor whispers the rhymes as an impassioned line over the same monologue sung as an aria proper.
At its best, which is far too seldom if you ask me, this is a dynamic, even explosive 'Tosca', brilliantly sung and conducted by Antonio Pappano who really knows this music.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I watched/listened to this on skyarts, and what a good job I did not buy it. The good news the three leads are excellent as one might expect, as are the supporting singers. Read morePublished 23 months ago by I. Zaneres
This is a wonderful film which was previously shown on TV a few months ago. However the quality of this DVD was so bad I had to
send it back.
I brought this film for my partner as he is into opera. I watched it too and enjoyed it :)Published on 22 July 2014 by lola
Excellent wonderful cast Roberto & Angela superb singing second to none really enjoyed it & will watch it over & overPublished on 13 Aug. 2013 by Lesley Smethurst
This opera is fantastic, but more fantastic is this adaptation! All the three main characters made their best in this wonderful film. Read morePublished on 1 July 2013 by Maria Sajti