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Puccini: Tosca [Arena di Verona] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: Italian, English, French, German, Spanish
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Artharus Musik
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 25, 2011
  • List Price: $9.99

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005G02RIC[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B005G02RIC[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Tosca (Arena di Verona) -

Purchase Tosca on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Performance

[Rating:4/5]

Puccini’s Tosca remains one of the most popular operas in the repertoire for good reason. The story is romance personified, the music gorgeous, and the dramatic tension, unabated. This 2006 Arena di Verona production, led by veteran Daniel Oren and principaled by Fiorenza Cedolins (Tosca), Marcelo Alvarez (Cavaradossi) and Ruggiero Raimondi (Scarpia) presents a dramatically honest if not innovative performance.  The outdoor stage features some iconic designs, relative sparse sets but, effective camera work that brings the work’s impact to the viewer. Singing quality, of course,what you paid for, is dependable if not spectacular. All leads are Puccini veterans, well versed in the verismo tradition, and come across as credible dramatis personae. The sound is quite good considering the vagaries of outdoor  recordings, leading me to believe that the singers were mic’d, but so what? The stage direction supports the dramatic essence quite well, making for a stirring evening.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

There is a generally dark cast which is due to the blue lighting employed and the fact that the opera was being shot outdoors and at night. The costumes are period and generally excellent. With the exception of the fake blood make up, the rest of the effects, including the use of real cannon and muskets are well done and convincing.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack deals with the venue as well as could be expected. Voices seem a bit distant but probably were close to what the audience heard at the actual performance. I was pleasantly surprised by the audio capture of the orchestra, so often a problem in such settings. From the standpoint of the singers, dependable rather than spectacular, would cover the performance. Fiorenza Cedolins is an accomplished singing actress and brings a credible if not memorable Tosca. Marcelo Alvarez is a sweet-toned tenor who lacks a touch of the heroic element. Ruggerio Raimondi, 65 at the time of this recording, personifies Scarpia albeit lacking some of the vocal richness of his younger years. Surround effects are mostly ambience and subtle at best.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1/5]

Those with cast-iron behinds are treated to two hours of highlights from 47 Arthaus Musik videos. Not the way I would choose to spend my evening, but not a detraction from an otherwise worthy production.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Tosca literally lives or dies on the strength of its heroine. In the recorded world of this work, the competition has been very stiff for a long time. The Maria Callas DVD live excerpts cannot hold a candle to the visual or sonic quality of today’s productions. However,from a dramatic viewpoint, they reflect the standard for all that followed. To my knowledge, there is no direct BD competition for this performance. Further, the Arena di Verona setting is, in itself, a great dramatic foil. The huge sets give an iconic feel to the work despite the relatively sparse nature of the on stage props. Make no mistake, this is a very well conceived production with director de Ana’s vision well conveyed. Those familiar with Tosca will be well satisfied with the performance, and the individual contributions of the soloists, if not at the Callas level of white heat, give a good account of the proceedings.  Other Tosca BDs may follow, but right now, this one carries the field.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005G02RIC[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B005G02RIC[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Tosca (Arena di Verona) -

Purchase Tosca on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

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