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Pagliacci (2010)

TV Movie  -   -  Music  -  17 May 2010 (Germany)
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Credited cast:
Gabriel Bermúdez ...
Fiorenza Cedolins ...
José Cura ...
Carlo Guelfi ...
Boiko Zvetanov ...


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Release Date:

17 May 2010 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Der Bajazzo  »

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Better than the Zurich Cavalleria Rusticana but still disappointing
5 January 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Pagliacci has for about seven years now been one of my favourite operas. I love Cavalleria Rusticana(which I often see performed with Pagliacci) just as much for its exquisite music but the dramatic story and the characterisation of Canio in Pagliacci draws me in more. I have to say I watched this performance of Cav-Pag and overall I didn't care for it, finding it dull generally, even with some good things. Perhaps it's due to seeing the Zeffirelli films and the Karajan-conducted performances with the likes of Cossotto as Santuzza and Vickers as Canio, where it was all gorgeous to watch and had vivid characterisations.

The performance of Pagliacci is the better of the two, Cavalleria was dark and really unmotivated, however it was still disappointing. There are virtues though, the orchestra do perform the magnificent music with musicality and power and the conducting is authoritative with a touch of nuances if too fast at times in the play scene. There are two good, if not great, performances, Gabriel Bermudez as Silvio and Carlo Guelfi as Tonio.

Silvio is seen as a more sympathetic contrast to the brutish Canio, as well as having a good, warm voice Bermudez plays Silvio very well, and does exactly what Silvio should do with being a contrast to Canio. Guelfi apart from a couple of high notes that sound on the pinched side- maybe I'm being a bit unfair after hearing Sherrill Milnes' 1978 Met prologue and being blown away by the truly thrilling top A flat- does a good job as the much-ridiculed hunchback Tonio, making you feel disgust, amusement and sympathy for him. His singing generally is fine, with the prologue having a good sense of storytelling.

Having loved her Tosca opposite Alvarez and Raimondi, Florenza Cedolins is mostly decent as Nedda. While not as dramatically convincing as her Tosca, her acting is both bitchy and vulnerable with the play scene at least having a sense of panic, much more involving than the Santuzza in Zurich's Cavalleria. Her voice though here is a little uneven for me, in her aria and in her duet with Silvio she sounds poignant and mellow. Her duet with Tonio and the darker moments of Non Pagliaccio Non Son are not so good, coming across as squally.

Visually, it is a marginal step up from Cavalleria Rusticana, not as dark or as gloomy, but the sets and costumes while not terrible are nothing out of the ordinary. The costumes especially in the play scene are rather garish for my tastes, with a rather nauseating amount of green and pink. The audio is like it was with Cavalleria, muffled and distant so that Non Pagliaccio Non Son does not have the impact. The camera work is decent enough, if not so kind in the close-ups of Cura, but the picture quality lacks sharpness. Just as disappointing are the chorus, the singing is good but there is nothing genuine really in the acting, it all feels like whatever.

I am not sure whether it was a bad night or whether he has ruined his voice, but I was left just as cold with Jose Cura's Canio than I was with his Turridu. This is including vocally too, I didn't mind him ten or so years ago though I've never been a fan, but especially now he sounds like a pushed up baritone. Before his top register was good enough without ever blowing me away, but now the larynx seems to be really constricted so he sounds strained and wobbly all the time.

The acting is not much better, Vesti La Guibba fares best because there was something interesting about the interpretation, but I just didn't feel the anguish, plus Cura's singing is very rushed and ragged. While in the play scene Canio's state of mind is meant to be a mix of grief and anger, Cura's interpretation, for want of a firm-but-not-too-harsh phrase, plays him too much like a blubbering fool. Overall, some good things but still very disappointing, it's now topped the 1998 Washington performance for my least favourite Pagliacci. 5/10 Bethany Cox

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