A superlative staging of Puccini’s Tosca by Italian opera producer Hugo de Ana brought to you from the world-famous Arena di Verona and complete with all the splendour that a Puccini opera demands! The popular tragedy is sung by a dream team cast of excellent singer-actors and conducted by long-established Arena di Verona conductor Daniel Oren.
The recording captures one of those special Verona summer evenings, when the audience fills the historic circle in expectation of the enjoyment of an open-air opera performance. Verona’s amphitheatre, known as the ‘arena’, provides an atmospheric setting for the summer festival that has assembled the stars of the international opera scene each year since 1913. To view an opera in the former amphitheatre, the second largest of its
kind after the Colosseum in Rome, can truly be regarded as an impressive experience. The DVD, however, provides a closer look at the stage and the singers and brings this dramatic opera directly to the home viewer.
The fi rst-rate singers add to the atmosphere of this very special event: Since fi rst appearing in the opera after winning the “Luciano Pavarotti Voice Competition” in 1996, Fiorenza Cedolins has sung Tosca in Rome, Nice and Paris, and recorded the opera under Zubin Mehta. In the drama, the character is a famous singer, and any performer in the role has to take on this aspect of the make-believe diva. It was this element that the critic in Il giornale found so convincing in Cedolins’s portrayal of the impulsive
heroine: “an actress who is able to pretend and withstand the appeal of a cunning seducer”, while La Repubblica described her as “a splendid Tosca, in her gestures, but even more importantly, in her singing”.
Argentinean tenor Marcelo Álvarez, on the other hand, had only recently made his début in the role (at Covent Garden in June 2006) before this Verona production, and the review in the British Opera magazine found that he “lived up to his reputation for excellence” and drew particular attention to his expressive singing of the famous “E lucevan le stelle”.
The trio of doomed principals is completed by Ruggero Raimondi’s Scarpia, a role to which the singer has brought not only, to quote Opera again, “a
powerful stage presence and unchanged acting skills” but also a depth of background knowledge of the play and of the historical facts that fl esh out
the sinister character, strengthen his motivations and make him far more than a personifi cation of evil.
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