Benoit Jacquot reinvents the way we view opera in this magnificent production of Puccini's story of Tosca's love for the painter Cavaradossi and the intervention of Scarpia.Benoit Jacquot reinvents the way we view opera in this magnificent production of Puccini's story of Tosca's love for the painter Cavaradossi and the intervention of Scarpia.Benoit Jacquot reinvents the way we view opera in this magnificent production of Puccini's story of Tosca's love for the painter Cavaradossi and the intervention of Scarpia.
Where the 2001 version scores is in its filming, which is really quite unique. There are a lot of interesting camera angles, especially in the climax, and the lighting just adds to the atmosphere. The costumes are just beautiful, especially Tosca's dress in Act 3, and the sets and locations are superb. And I was fine with the black and white, this is better when it is in colour but it was a point of interest in a way. The direction is credible enough, while the conducting and the orchestra are top notch.
I can't mention Tosca without mentioning the music. As fond as I am of La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Manon Lescaut and Turandot, I personally think Tosca is Puccini's magnum opus. For me, it is certainly his darkest and most complex, and Scarpia if done right is likely to live in the mind for a long while after. I cannot watch any filmed version of Tosca, without watching the "te deum" over and over, it is such a beautiful, stirring and powerful piece of music that does move the story forward. I can also watch the whole of Act 2 again and again, so much happens musically and story-wise and it is just amazing for the ears and the senses.
The story is both dark and tragic yet always compelling. The three main characters of the opera are to me among the best in opera history. There's the passionate and beautiful Floria Tosca, the poignant Caveradossi and then the truly snake-like and machiavellian Baron Scarpia, which is a very difficult role and perhaps the most complex of any "villain" in a Puccini opera, and all add a lot to the opera from its opening chords to the evocative climax.
The performances are fine in general. Spoletta and the Sacristan are good, and the chorus are very well-blended. Angela Gheorghiu is overall wonderful as Tosca, her acting mayn't be the best of the Toscas I've seen but she does have her moments such as in Scarpia's death scene, but when it comes to the look and the voice she is far more impressive. She looks very passionate and beautiful and she does show good chemistry with Alagna and Raimondi, while vocally she gives one of her better performances.
Not to say that he was bad, but Roberto Alagna was one of my two or three disappointments with this version. He looks dashing, and he does sing beautifully particularly in Recondita Armonia (though I agree the ambiance doesn't really do him much service) but his acting does come across as rather cold. Consequently Caveradossi doesn't quite come across as poignant enough which was a little disappointing.
I totally concur though about those who praise Ruggero Raimondi. He is absolutely magnificent as Scarpia. He has a great, quite powerful voice, and acting wise, he is by far the best of the principles. I did notice some traits he put here were similar to those he used in Joseph Losey's Don Giovanni, one minute Scarpia is quite charming, next he is really quite menacing and I admit, I got goosebumps just watching him especially in the "te deum" and when he tells Tosca to give herself to him. In fact, Raimondi is up there as one of my favourite Scarpias, up there with Tito Gobbi and Sherrill Milnes(different but I am quite fond of him).
Other than some of the ambiance and Alagna's acting, my only other disappointment was the lip-synching which was rather inconsistent. Overall though, it was interesting and I quite liked it. 7.5/10 Bethany Cox
- Feb 19, 2011