La Gioconda as an overall opera is not one of my favourites. It does have some outstanding moments, such as the Suicido scene and Dance of the Hours and great music, but the story is convoluted. However the music is so good, that the opera is worth watching or hearing.
Prior to seeing this 2005 production, I saw the 1986 production which had outstanding performances and a nimbly choreographed Dance of the Hours but wasn't so good in the sound and sets. And also the 1979 television film which is the better of the two.
For recordings, I recommend the Maria Callas recordings and also the one with Caballe, Pavarotti, Baltsa, Milnes and Ghiaurov.
This production is very good, not as good as the 1979 television film but superior to the 1986 production. The picture quality and sound are very good, the costumes are tailored beautifully and colourful while not distracting from the opera's tone and while sparse the sets are good enough.
From a musical standpoint, this La Gioconda is excellent, powerful and nimble in the orchestral playing and Daniele Callegari's conducting definitely helps. Pizzi's direction and staging is another plus, especially in Dance of the Hours which is very charmingly done.
La Gioconda's(2005) are not what I call consistent across the board, but they are generally good. For me there are two excellent, one surprisingly good, two reasonably good and one disappointment. The disappointment is the Enzo of Richard Margison, Cielo e Mar is competent but other than that I found Margison rather stiff in his acting, there is little or no musicality and while he can sing his high notes don't quite have the ring they should.
Surprisingly good is Deborah Voight. I have seen a few opinions against her favour, and while I wasn't expecting her to work she did in this difficult role of La Gioconda. She is a gifted actress, and the voice is still big and appealing even though her middle can be a little hollow at times. Her Suicido is also riveting, it's a slight shame that Guelfi doesn't quite match her.
Reasonably good are Elisabetta Fiorillo and Ewa Podels. Fiorillo's Laura is well sung and attractive if not entirely convincing dramatically. Podels may be a tad rough vocally at times, but her La Cieca overall is very moving.
As I said, there are two excellent performances. One is Carlos Colombara. His Alvise oozes power and malevolence, in fact I'd go as far to say of the principals he is the most consistent. The other is Carlo Guelfi's well characterised and vocally assured Barnaba, only two things in regard to Guelfi disappoint and that's the odd pinched high note and (compared to Milnes and Manuguerra) his acting after Gioconda kills herself is rather feeble and ordinary.
Overall, a very good La Gioconda. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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