A cheer dies in my throat...
Smorgy | Southern California, USA | 03/09/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"So many great things and so many not so great things in this DVD. La clemenza di Tito is one of my favorite operas because of the musical part of it. And the music is mostly wonderful here.
They had scratched the dry sung speech in favor of spoken Italian dialogue. So this is turned into an Italian 'Singspiel'. Might work better if more than 1 principals speak the language well, but as it turns out they don't... and the lone native Italian, Eva Mei, doesn't capitalize on her command of the language either.
Staging is very dark... semi modern with a single set featuring a turning tall cylinder with a staircase wrapping around it. I thought I was in for an Italian mobsters kind of show until Tito and his Romans appear looking like Mussolini and his collaborators. It's a typical Jonathan Miller staging with mostly 'static and pose' kind of choreography. Seems a bit under-rehearsed to me. And I don't really care for the 'assassination and burning of Rome' sequence that ends Act I in this production... There is no commotion anywhere, all you have is Sesto standing there singing of the commotion (the chorus stays off the stage). The whole sequence is saved only because they have a truly commanding Sesto on-stage who can convince you that the terror and tumult in the music is 'right' and the lack of any action on stage is to be ignored.
Vesselina Kasarova is in wonderful voice as Sesto and a commanding presence on stage despite of her not very large size and dark suit (blends right into the dark set at times). Some of her ornamentation fit piano playing more than singing, I think, but they aren't distracting. I wish there is more chemistry between her and Eva Mei, who is miscast as Vitellia.
Mei's voice is just not dramatic enough for the role and there is unsettling amount of tremolo in her voice even in lower passages (not to mention a vibrato that's getting a bit wide). I have a hard time trying to believe that any man could be passionately in love with her to the point of trying to kill his best friend for it. I dislike the word 'mannerism'... but there is nothing natural about how she sings or acts this role.
Jonas Kaufmann is a 'too good to be true' kind of Tito with a commanding voice that is too heavy to cope with the Act II virtuoso 'Se all'impero'. He is a good Tito otherwise, however... Tho there is more chemistry between his Tito and Kasarova's Sesto than between Sesto and Vitellia... It's almost like Tito and Sesto were gay lovers before the curtain rises and Sesto was the dominant one.
Malin Hartelius is everything I could hope for in a Servilia and more. Liliana Nikiteanu sings very well as Annio, but seems to be in a different play with Kasarova's Sesto. One is in a dramatic tragedy and the other looks on the verge of throwing in a joke. Gunther Groissbock's Publio is physically imposing but vocally hard to hear.
I like Franz Welser-Most's read of this music a lot, especially in the overture (and I love watching the orchestra play during the overture). His orchestra is too loud during the singing parts; however, especially during ensemble pieces. The girls all have enough metal in their voice to cut through the column of sound from the pit, but Publio really suffers for it. The chorus sing very well, also.
Anyhow... a not all out cheer for this production. I like most of it but still prefer the Salzburg 2003 version better. [...]"
Excellent "Tito" with spoken recitatives
D. Vierheller | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an effective staging, though the set looks medieval and the costumes are modern. It's well paced, well played, well sung. Jonas Kaufmann is an ideal Tito. His voice is not only beautiful and flexible, it's also ample, retaining warmth and sweetness when he sings out. The character of Tito is too good to be true, but Kaufmann makes him intense, noble, and beliveable. Vesselina Kasarova is riviting as Sesto. Her voice is gorgeous and multi-colored, her technique exquisite, her immersion in the role complete. If you think great singing-acting expired with Callas, this DVD will change your mind. Liliana Nikiteanu as Annio, Malin Hertelius as Servilia, and Gunther Groissbock as Publio, have luscious voices and dramatic talent. Nikiteanu is particularly touching. The only disappointment here is Eva Mei as Vitellia. Her slightly tart soprano suits the character's vengeful moods, but her lack of tonal warmth deprives her great aria of pathos."
It works perfectly well for me
Francesco Alvarez | 01/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this opera but always thought that one of its few setbacks was the abundance of recitativi that, somehow, dilute the beauty of the main arias. It looks like the people of Zurich had the same feeling when changed the recitativi for spoken dialogues. The beauty of the italian language sounds much better this way, in spite of the thick accent of some of the leads including Jonas Kaufmann. Both, the drama and the music become more intense as well. The production is very sober but it fits well to the monumental dimensions and elegance of Mozart's last opera. What are really outstanding in this production are the costumes, particularly Vitelia's spectacular dresses that seem to be inspired on some art deco statues of the first half of the XX century. It is curious that the elegance of the dresses also enhances the particular atmosphere of this inteligent production. Singers are uneven but none of them particularly bad. Jonas Kaufmann is a great tenor but should get some more couching with his italian."
New Jonas Kaufmann Mozart Opera
William J. Marino | Cape Coral, Fl. | 05/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Received product in timely manner in good condition.
Wonderful production of this Mozart opera.
Kaufmann is new to me and I'm very impressed. Will eventually
acquire all of his works."