"This double bill production of Tabarro Pagliacci is one of the great operatic experiences of the past several decades and must be purchased and experienced. Tabarro may be my favorite of Puccini's operas. It is innovative and daring, holding your attention for every second. The orchestra is used ambiently, there are tugs going off, songs and lovers and all sorts of passers-by giving context to the action. The music bespeaks the most profound modernist melancholy. Subdued angst marks the entire opera, which bursts forth in the ecstasy of love, in terror, rage and finally in vengance. There is a magic about the score which underlines the action. This opera, being so ambient, is almost completely on the shoulders of the performers. The opera will either fail or succed on the stregnth of the singing actors employed, and here there are only the best. Juan pons is the Michelle. This charachter may be one of the great baritone charachters in all opera. Not evil by any means, Michelle is honestly loving, tortured by Giorgetta and her distance. He has sunk into paranoia and melancholy. His gentle melancholy slowly turns into fury, after bearing his soul to Giorgetta pleading with her, to "come close and rest by him, for the night is beautiful." (some of the most beautiful baritone writing ever done.) Juan Pons is a fabulous Michele, he is a big gruff man, the exact type needed. His voice, although as always lacking in warmth, has the power to express Michelles frustrated rage, and the beauty to express his romantic melancholy. Domingo plays Luigi. At the age of 55 he is still the great romantic lead. No other tenor could do what he did. He was madly in love with Giorgetta. When he dances that out of tune waltz with her, your heart tears in two. I watched this production with four friends, and at the finish of "Hai Ben Ragione" we were one and all in tears. Domingo is in strong voice, and he uses his full range, from ringing desperation to sotto voce angst. Teresa Stratas makes her farewell in the part of Giorgetta. Forget that she is 60 years old, her voice is still there, and she is still the greatest singing actress alive. Her giorgetta is consumed by lust, meloncholy and remorse. she really feels bad for her silent, brooding husband, and her tears are real when Michelle pleads with her. BRAVO!!!!!!! Next to Tabarro comes comes the inevitable Pagliacci, which was also spectacular. Pavarotti delivers a clown of real force. This is one of his finest acted performaces to date. Vesti la Giubba will truly move you to tears. Pons is a wonderful Tonio, a man truly deformed. His voice is ideal, shouty and intense. his interactions with Stratas are true verismo, with spit and blood to spare. Dwane Croft is an incredible sounding lover for Stratas. Teresa Stratas, perhaps a touch less secure than in Tabarro, is still a memorable and incredible Nedda. Her attention to the drama, makes a work that is sometimes charachture into something dramatically convincing.
I don't cry very often, but I cried at this.... Well worth any price"
This isn't rocket science, look at the cast, you want this!
C. Boerger | Columbus, OH USA | 09/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In what has to be considered an inspired pairing, the Met opened its 1994 season with this double bill, recorded here for posterity. Il Tabarro and Pagliacci, though by different composers, belong together, since both are relatively short verismo tragedies, both feature indigent and tawdry characters, and both deal with infidelity and murder.
The evening starts with Puccini's Il Tabarro, the more low key outing of the two. It's typical of Puccini to be less interested in telling a complex story and more interested in creating a convincing sense of atmosphere, of place, and of eliciting strong emotions, all through his wonderful music, and he succeeds brilliantly. From the serene opening to its violent climax, Il Tabarro is filled with the brooding tension of its unhappy characters. The Met's dark, yet lovely, production works wonders toward bringing this tension to life, as do the singers. A scowling Placido Domingo is Luigi, the strong itinerant workhorse willing to risk everything, even to kill for his one outlet of happiness, his love for his boss's wife, played by Teresa Stratas. Domingo still sounds great, even youthful, his ardor is always legitimate because that's the type of singer he is. Physically, he isn't nearly as handsome as he was in, say, Rigoletto from fifteen years earlier, he looks a little like a more smoldering Lon Chaney Jr. at this point, but this actually ends up being a plus, his age adds a craggy, wounded look to his features that works, even though he is clearly much older than the character he is portraying. Stratas' voice isn't quite as strong as it was ten years earlier, when she was capturing the powerhouse roles of Violetta and Lulu and Salome to perfection, even with the pristine sound quality of this production she has trouble maintaining a consistency in volume, but if she was intentionally trying to save herself for the big moments, well, the strategy worked, because Stratas always manages to deliver when it really counts. To her credit, her voice rarely sounds strained, the purity of sound is still there even if isn't always as full or as forceful as it used to be. Juan Pons, the betrayed husband Michele, is a gentle yet threatening bear of a man, his singing is tender and passionate but also simmering with rage which the audience just knows is destined to come to the surface before the story is over; he gives a dynamite performance, appropriately enough, he is the last to make his curtain call and gets the strongest ovation. Il Tabarro is far from Puccini's greatest opera, but it is a work to be treasured, with its emphasis on the life and feelings of poor folk living and working by the Seine over the story itself, it functions as a chilling mood piece, and proves that this often underrated composer could do whatever he wanted, he was creatively diverse, he had a brain in addition to a heart.
Leoncavallo's Pagliacci is one of the greatest masterworks of the verismo genre, more hultihued musically and dramatically than Il Tabarro, which the Met emphasizes with a colorful and crowded production(but not too colorful or too crowded, it is just right). Pavarotti is Canio the tormented clown and one of the most complex protagonists in all versimo, his voice is clear and piercing as ever and his performance really gets to the violent heart of the murderous cuckold, he manages to match Domingo in the acting department, rarely has the singer come across as so, well, vicious. Yet his Vesti la giubba shows the sadness of the character and lives up to what you would expect from a tenor of his stature performing one of opera's most popular numbers. He even takes a curtain call for that one aria(and nobody takes a curtain call like Pavarotti). Stratas returns as Nedda, another wayward wife(was she trying to tell us something?), and she is once again on for the big moments, especially her glorious aria which taxes her voice, nevertheless she manages to break through and topple the house. Juan Pons also returns as Tonio, his prelude("I am the prologue") is delivered with panache, and his portrayal of the deformed comprimario plays up the lechery and resentment over the heartbreak with disturbing results. His voice is, of course, smooth and clear and boiling with hate. Dwaye Croft has the ideal sort of romantic baritone voice for Silvio. The complexity of Leoncavallo's "true" story, with its play within a play(a commedia del arte piece, the narrative of which cleverly matches the surrounding events) and the confusion of fantasy and reality yield all sorts of brilliant action from the chorus and players, the stage is never less than thrillingly alive.
Special accolades should be given to the performances of James Levine and the mighty Met orchestra, who bring out the tragedy, the humor, most of all the passion of both scores while never failing to miss the equally important moments of pensiveness and quiet. Verismo has never sounded better."
Stratas and a great cast create great theater!
D. J. Edwards | Cheshire, CT United States | 02/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stratas the musician, Stratas the actress is superlative here! No bars held! then we have Domingo and Pavarotti. You can't miss with this Luigi and Canio. Juan Pons rises to greatness as Tonio. With Quivar and the up-coming Croft- a complete cast that has no weak links at all. A great evening in the theater with Levine at the helm. Great singing, great drama through which we visit a day in the life of people caught in their own dead end tragedies. The lives of the marginal struggle and die before our very eyes here. An absolute winner of a dvd."
Buy this one for Juan Pons performance
Frank Elliott | Hendersonville, NC United States | 09/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It looks like I can't get enough of Pagliacci; I own three of them now. It's the universal appeal, since most of us have had to deal with a love lost - and frankly, we were pretty angry, if we were honest. Thankfully, most of us didn't go completly nuts. The music is wonderful - a sort of mad stagger between farce, exhultation, strange, then stumbling into eerie - then as suddenly, jerking back to opera buffo. James Levine conducts superbly, the orchestra is perfection. Art direction by Levine also luridly opulent and joyous -great color! -scenes interspersed with some extraordinary choral and vocal work - each performer deserving standing ovations. I was very impressed with Kenn Chester who played the affable Arlechin (harlequin ). superb- and I hope to see him in more, absolutely ! But you know who steals the show? Who eats the scenery, as it is called? Juan Pons ! This is his opera. At first, we buy an opera, because it may have the big name star - and certainly you want to own this one with the late, wonderful Pavarotti. In this one, however, Juan Pons is unmistakeably the master of ceremonies. Before I thought of him as best supporting actor. Now, as I hear more of him, more closely now, I have to admire his voice. Don't overlook his mastery of baritone bel canto. It's easy to find a collection of favorite arias by the big names...but it would be fabulous to listen to Mr. Pons do a CD/DVD in concert. I would buy that now in a minute. What a voice. In this show, Juan is the show."
OUT OF THE TOP DRAWER
drkhimxz | Freehold, NJ, USA | 09/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Pagliacci is unsurprising in that it is all that one would hope for. Old War Horse, or not, a decent cast can make it effective; a cast like this shows why it has been so successful for so many years. On the other hand, Il Tabarro, surprised me with its impact; as one reviewer recognized, it is a musical version of many of the films and plays of the thirties and early forties, working class drama, in which hard-working, ordinary people, find themselves the material of Greek tragedy. No better argument against minimalist staging of drama can be made than the atmosphere created by the Met scenic design which with deceptive simplicity makes a major contribution to the success of the production. Puccini's music amazed me with its sheer rightness for the simple love triangle so often portrayed yet made fresh and vital here. Finally, and most importantly, Conductor Levine leads three perfectly cast principals to give of their best, which is some of the best singing of its day. Stratas shows that even without singing she could step into the role on Broadway and be a hit; with her wonderfully expressive singing, she creates a memorable character despite the limited time available. Pons, too, in every respect commands respect for his portrayal. As to Domingo, his ability to enter into the most variegated roles is by now legend; here, he, too, looks, acts, sings with near perfection to make us believe in his tragic love. Needless to say, I can recommend both these short operas, without qualification. The Pagliacci will live up to expectations, the Il Tabarro will exceed them."