Magazine article Gramophone

Puccini

Magazine article Gramophone

Puccini

Article excerpt

Puccini [DVD][BR] Tosca  Kristine Opolais sop              Tosca Marcelo Alvarez ten         Cavaradossi Marco Vratogna bar              Scarpia Alexander Tsymbalyuk bass     Angelotti Peter Tantsits ten             Spoletta Peter Rose bass               Sacristan Douglas Williams bass-bar     Sciarrone Walter Fink bass                 Gaoler 

Cantus Juvenum Karlsruhe; Vienna Philharmonia Chorus; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle

Stage director Philipp Himmelmann

Video director Andreas Morell

EuroArts (F)[DVD] 206 4178; (F) 206 4174 025' * NTSC * 16:9 * 1080i * DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & PCM stereo * 0 * s)

Recorded live at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival, April 2017

Includes synopsis

'Ecco un artista' says Tosca as her boyfriend flops to the floor, in fact mortally wounded and not showing any more theatrical talent than he has hitherto suggested. It's tempting to wonder if the twist-finale of Puccini's opera is meant to mark not just the final curtain for Cavaradossi but also for any suggestion that the jobbing painter had much artistic temperament to begin with. The true stage animals of Tosca are the eponymous singer and her oleaginous tormentor, Baron Scarpia.

There are interesting ideas about art--what it is, who controls it--bubbling through Philipp Himmelmann's 2017 production for the Baden-Baden Easter Festival and the Berlin Philharmonic, only Simon Rattle's second foray into Puccini. They do not come to the boil, however, and the result, although decently captured on DVD/Blu-ray, is oddly flavourless.

Rattle and his orchestra add both depth and gloss: to hear the shimmer of the Berlin strings in the eerie swells of the Te Deum is enough to absolve the conductor of his reverential tempos. There are plenty of other lovely touches: the playful but lingering preamble to 'Recondita armonia'; the evocative 'dawn' prelude to Act 3.

So you can be stirred by this orchestra--but you do need to be shaken elsewhere. Himmelmann, with modern, metallic designs from Raimund Bauer, attempts a kind of deconstruction. We're in a world where both religion and art seem to have been co-opted by the state: Peter Rose's unusually dominant Sacristan marshals choristers who don't seem especially into God, and are equally nonplussed by Cavaradossi's high-concept digital portrait of the Marchesa Attavanti. …

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