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Almicare Ponchielli - La Gioconda (Gran Teatre del Liceu) [2 DVDs]
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Amilcare Ponchielli: "La Gioconda"
La Gioconda - Deborah Voigt
Laura Adorno - Elisabetta Fiorillo
La Cieca - Ewa Podles
Alvise Badoero - Carlo Colombara
Enzo Grimaldo - Richard Margison
Barnaba - Carlo Guelfi
Orchestra Simfònica i Cor del Gran Teatre del Liceu
Leitung: Danielle Callegari
"La Gioconda" ist das einzige Werk von Ponchielli, das sich im Repertoire der Opernbühnen dauerhaft behaupten konnte. Schon die Uraufführung im Jahre 1876 an der Mailänder Scala geriet zu einem fulminanten Erfolg. Aus seiner literarischen Grundlage, Victor Hugos Drama "Angelo, tyran de Padoue" in der Libretto-Bearbeitung von Arrigo Boito alias Tobia Gorrio, schuf Ponchielli ein prächtiges Gemälde der schönen und prunkvollen Stadt Venedig im 17. Jahrhundert, in der man sich vor dem schäbigen Hintergrund einer auf Intrigen, Rache und Verrat basierenden despotischen und korrupten Macht dem Luxus, Festen und dem Karneval hingibt. Sei es Gioconda, eine bescheidene Straßensängerin und Musterbeispiel für Güte und Großherzigkeit, sei es der ruchlose Spion Barnaba, der die Grausamkeit und Lügenhaftigkeit einer kranken Gesellschaft verkörpert oder sei es Enzo Grimaldo, ein charakteristischer Held des italienischen Melodrams - der widersprüchliche venezianische Charakter wird von den Hauptfiguren dieses leidenschaftlichen Melodrams prägnant verkörpert.
Die Dramaturgie Pier Luigi Pizzis entspricht ganz dem klassischen und edlen Stil, für den er bekannt ist: Er meidet die übliche bunte Inszenierung dieser Opfer und entwirrt die Ereignisse in einer von Klarheit und Vornehmheit geprägten Herangehensweise. Indem er das Geschehen in das 18. Jahrhundert, eine Zeit der Krisen und Umwälzungen versetzt, verstärkt er effektvoll die tragische Vision des Werks.
das Sujet überzeugt mich nicht. Aber das ist mein Geschmackt. Sicher gibt es viele Liebhaber der Musik von Ponchielli - für diese ist diese Aufnahme sehr zu empfehlen.
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The most noteworthy video competition is the DVD (formerly on Image, now Kultur) of a 1986 Vienna State Opera production headlined by Eva Marton and Plácido Domingo. Which one is to be preferred seems to be a matter of disagreement. I will start by saying neither is anything close to a great representation of the opera (a work for which I easily admit fondness and, yes, respect) on the musical level. But the first buy of those presently available should be the '05 Liceu production under review, which has a real, engrossing production. The Vienna is an old-fashioned, lifeless, and ultimately tiring stand-and-sing affair. The Liceu shows infinitely more care for matters of blocking and attitude, and this counts for much when dealing with a video recording. Pizzi does not have great actors at his disposal, but he gets the best he can out of them; their Vienna counterparts are largely on autopilot. The Liceu also has the better Act Three ballet. In fact, the erotically charged pas de deux of Angel Corella and Letizia Giuliani, with the 12 supporting ballerinas dressed in a rainbow of colors, deservedly gets the loudest and longest applause of the evening.
Vocal comparison between '86 Vienna and '05 Barcelona is not a rewarding undertaking. This is a difficult opera to cast satisfactorily, and there is not much good news in either performance. The newer release's one truly great contribution is the La Cieca of Ewa Podles; it is a treat to hear this music sung by a genuine contralto rather than a second Laura faking depth. There is also a correct, reptilian Alvise from Carlo Colombaro, outclassing the bass on the Vienna DVD. Elisabetta Fiorillo, once Cieca on the Urmana/Domingo audio recording, has been promoted here to Laura, with unfocused, viscous results; a slight edge to Vienna's Ludmila Semtschuk, who is not stylish or subtle but sings as well as Fiorillo does and has a more elegant carriage on stage. Carlo Guelfi's Barnaba is colorless throughout his range, pinched and nasal on top; he is less effective than Vienna's aged but sure-handed Matteo Manuguerra. (Guelfi loses one more point late with the feeblest solution to Barnaba's final vocalization -- the wordless grunt/groan/scream of frustration at Gioconda's "escape" -- in my memory.)
At the top of the order, there is not one stellar performance among the pairings of Deborah Voigt/Richard Margison (Barcelona) and Eva Marton/Plácido Domingo (Vienna). Voigt was recently status post gastric bypass and had lost plushness and support. There are some nice moments along the way, but the wizened, hollow middle that would be even more of a debit in Italian rep by the 2010-11 centenary FANCIULLAs was already in evidence here. She makes the role sound more physically strenuous and draining than one might expect from a working Isolde and (recently) Brünnhilde. There is commitment but no particular profile to her acting; fierceness and animal intensity are not her strong suit. Margison's is the kind of unexciting and unlovely performance, without major calamity, that one calls "professional." This match-up, then, seems to favor vintage Marton/Domingo, but neither heavy-hitter is in best form on the '86 video performance we have. The soprano has poor control over an instrument of impressive size; the tenor, then recovering from surgery, sounds tired and strained. Much of the music lies uncomfortably for him, and some high notes are obviously tracked in from another source, audio being out of sync with picture. Surprisingly, Domingo's much later audio recording on EMI is a better official souvenir of his Enzo.
Conductor Daniele Callegari leads the Barcelona performance with greater vitality and connection to this idiom than are managed by Adam Fischer, whose Vienna performance begins with out-of-tune strings in the prelude and never recovers from that inauspicious start. This is a reminder that even the most prestigious ensemble is capable of a listless, out-of-sorts showing if not motivated and galvanized.
Picture and sound of the Barcelona set (the opera is spread over two discs) are very good. The subtitled English translation of Arrigo Boito's much-mocked libretto evidences more grace and discretion than the one on the Vienna DVD. This opera is going to have its share of ripe, pulpy dialogue no matter what, but the wording and syntax choices made for the earlier release do it no favors -- they make it seem indefensible.
Since Voght has lost so much weight, she acts with great force, and her voice now has those high notes, heretofore not focused at all.
The sets are very sparse, but it really is the vocal drama that dominates this, and here it is very compelling.
There are other versions, but this is the best, and there are CD versions to match..especially Callas' La Gioconda and Marton's on CBS. Avoid tat Umana one, but Placido Domingo is great.
Buy this and revel in the romance and the vendetta and that blazinbg final scene..all there before you in tantalizing sound!
I am quite familiar with the works of the Italian director Pier Luigi Pizzi from a few DVDs of his staging that I have. I like his working method. His stage is never overcrowded and beautified a la Zeffirelli. But it is always very aesthetic and does not have a ragged look either like in the work of a few German directors that I have seen lately... there are a few ravishingly scenes, like the burning in the ship that closes Act II. The conductor Daniele Callegari is doing a fine job and the Liceu orchestra is playing splendidly.
Deborah Voigt is singing the title role. I am not completely convinced that her voice and singing is ideal for the Italian repertoire, but I liked what I heard and was especially impressed in the big ensembles when the voice is heard clearly over the loud chorus and orchestra. The Suicidio aria was done decently, but I heard better versions.
In the leading tenor role of Enzo Grimaldo was singing the Canadian tenor Richard Margison. The voice is beautiful in the lower range, but the high notes are forced. The great hit Cielo e mar was fine but not brilliant. His lover, Laura was sung by Italian Mezzo Elisabetta Fiorillo. She is fine. So is her husband Alvise, sung here by the very good Italian bass Carlo Colombara. Italian baritone Carlo Guelfi sings here the baritone role, Barnaba. He is an experienced performer, but I heard better rendering of this role. His O monumento monologue is very effective. Last is Gioconda mother La Cieca. She was sung here by Polish contralto Ewa Podles. She is a great artist with an impressive stage presence and good acting abilities, but alas, her voice here is not in good shape. I hardly recognized her voice, but the audience loved her performance...
And a few final statements about the dance of the hours: the way it is done here is absolutely charming: twelve female dancers in colorful dresses to indicate the months (?). The solo couple, Ángel Corella and Letizia Giuliani is nothing less than amazing!! The audience went crazy after the dance, with very loud and long applause.
To sum up: this is not an ideal performance, but it has its fine moments. I liked it. Technical quality is first class. There is another DVD version for this opera that was filmed in 1985 at the Vienna state opera with Marton and Domingo. This version remains first choice for this opera on DVD overall, but the spectacular Dance of the Hour at the Liceu is far superior to the one from Vienna!!