This is an impressive production from Bologna, conducted by Riccardo Muti. The set is an Italian piazza with tenements and a church. I liked the way people were going about their everyday business in the tenement windows, but not intruding on the opera action. I also loved the authenticity of the chorus. In an excellent cast, José Cura is outstanding. The version I saw came without subtitles so, with my limited Italian, I lost some of the nuances of the plot but there was a compensating gain in my appreciation of Mascagni's sumptuous score.
This one act, one set opera does have its problems. The best music is in the purely orchestral intermezzo. The dramatic highlight is the duel, which takes place offstage. Zeffirelli, in his 1982 film, got round these problems by dramatising the intermezzo and showing the duel. That is one solution but this film makes a persuasive case for filming the opera as Mascagni conceived it.
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