Magazine article Gramophone

Opera: Sir Antonio Pappano's New Rendering of This Triptych Produces a World-Beating Combination of Virtues

Magazine article Gramophone

Opera: Sir Antonio Pappano's New Rendering of This Triptych Produces a World-Beating Combination of Virtues

Article excerpt

WINNER

Puccini Il trittico

Once DVDs had been rolled into this year's contenders for the Opera award, there was a good chance this disc would win. It has everything a prize-winning DVD of Puccini's Il trittico could need--an interesting and emotionally involving production; excellent playing and (mosdy) singing; and filming of the highest quality that today's technology can afford. For a work that has long hovered on the fringes of the opera repertoire, this was potentially a world-beating combination of virtues.

The lynchpin of the enterprise is Sir Antonio Pappano, conductor and music director of the Royal Opera. For more than a decade he has been working slowly through a project to record Puccini's operas on CD for EMI, including an earlier Il trittico in 1999, while simultaneously working on selected Puccini productions at the Royal Opera House. The success of Richard Jones's production of Gianni Schicchi there prompted the idea of adding the other two operas of the trilogy and this complete Il trittico --neither traditional nor outrageously off-the-wall, and visually splendid--was the inspiring result.

There is a simple test for any performance of a Puccini opera: if the emotions take over, it is a success. That point occurs here somewhere during Suor Angelica, either towards the end of the encounter with Anna Larsson's highly charged Princess or in the devastating final scene with Ermonela Jaho in the title-role. The grand guignol of II tabarro and the black comedy of Gianni Schicchi, the latter set among the floral wallpaper and beehive hair-dos of the 1960s, are hardly less fine. …

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