Monday, March 29, 2010

Tosca - a bit edited

To care about opera and to have never seen Tosca is almost impossible. As of today I've seen it and expect never to see it again. Puccini's music is too lush for me, too caloric. Not that this story is saccharine, rather it is over the top drama and I've always avoided it for both reasons.

What I saw today on a DVD was a film producers idea that was so bad it was almost good. The wonderful Roberto Alana was Cavaradosi and his ex-wife Angela Gheorghiu was Tosca. The incredible baritone, Ruggero Raimondi, was Scarpia. The film cut from a recording session in black and white, to the lush castle [San Angelo, I believe]. Although I think this interleaving of formats was ridiculous and somewhat pretentious, it saved the experience for me from being overwhelmingly horrible. Scarpia is more evil, villianous and stomach-turning than Iago or any other character short of Hannibal Lecter and casting was perfect. Costuming and setting were as lush as the music, some camera work was over the top [no surprise]. Torture scenes are doubly painful in today's political context. So now I have seen a version of Tosca and no longer have the blank space in my education. I told the woman who had chosen the opera about Susan Sontag's The Volcano Lover and that Scapria and Tosca and the whole situation in Naples during that period are a part of Sontag's story, which is based on her careful research.

Last week I left at the break when the very dark and static production of Saint-Saens Henry VIII was putting me to sleep. I'm very happy next week's opera is The Merry Widow. I love opera but I admit to being narrow in my favorites.


Kass said...

I didn't know Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna were divorced, but it makes sense. It's hard to maintain a marriage with that sort of career. The baritone was Ruggero Raimondi. I can't say more because I'm an over-the-top opera singer and lover.

Jonas said...

It's precisely because of the lushness, the exuberant romance of his music, that I love Puccini's operas.

That's the great thing about artistic endeavors - there's something for everyone.

Kass said...

June, I don't know if you meant interweaving instead of interleaving (in your description of formatting), but I love the use of it here. "To provide blank leaves in a book for notes or written comments," is a perfect way to describe going from black and white to color.