PAISIELLO: Nina o sia La Pazza Per Amore (Nina, or The Girl Driven Mad by Love)
Cecilia Bartoli (Nina); Jonas Kaufmann (Lindoro); Laszlo Polgar (Il Conte); Juiette Galstian (Susanna); Angelo Veccia (Giorgio); Jonas Kaufmann (Un pastore); Federica Bartoli/Golda Fischer (Villanelle); Chorus and Orchestra of the Zurich Opera House/Adam Fischer, cond.
ARTHAUS MUSIC 100 367 TT: 120 min./46 min. documentary

PUCCINI: Tosca
Maria Guleghina (Tosca); Salvatore Licitra (Cavaradossi); Leo Nucci (Scarpia); Giovanni Battista Parodi (Angelotti); Ernesto Gavazzi (Spoletta); Silvestro Sammaritano (Sciarrone); La Scala Chorus and Orch/Riccardo Muti, cond.
EUROARTS 115008 9 DVUS-OPTOS 121 min.

'THE LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS'
BACH-ELGAR: Fantasia and Fugue in C Minor. MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 4 in D, K. 218. BACH: Presto from Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001. STRAUSS: Dance of the Seven Veils and Final Scene from Salome. SHOSTAKOVICH: Jazz Suite No. 2. GRAINGER: Tribute to Foster. DELIUS: The Walk to the Paradise Garden. ELGAR: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D, Op. 39. WOOD Fantasia on British Sea-Songs. ARNE: Rule Brittania! PARRY: Jerusalem.
Hilary Hahn, violinist; Jane Eaglen, soprano; BBC Symphony Chorus and Orch/Sir Andrew Davis, cond.
OPUS ARTE OA 0851 D TT: 166 min.

MOZART: Voi avete un cor fedele. Vado, ma dove? Oh Dei! K. 583. Giunse alfin il momento - Al desio di chi t'adora, K. 577. Un moto di gioia mi sento, K. 579. Bella mia fiamma, addio, K. 528. Symphony No. 38 in D, K. 504 "Prague."
Cecilia Bartoli, mezzo-soprano; Concentus Musicus Wien/Nikolaus Harnoncourt, cond.
OPUS ARTE OA 0869 D TT: 113 min.

Paisiello's comic opera in two acts Nina was premiered in 1789 to great success, is the story of the young girl Nina. In love with Lindoro, when he seemingly is killed, Nina appears to be demented, but when he turns up alive she recovers for the happy ending. This film of a Zurich production in 2002 adds an aria by Mozart, the concert aria Ah, lo previdi, K. 272, which happens to be based on an aria from Paisiello's earlier opera Andromeda. It's easily the finest music to be heard in this opera which was filmed in 2002. In spite of the superb performances—particularly by Bartoli and the outstanding (and good-looking!) young tenor Jonas Kaufmann who sings the role of Lindoro, there's a good reason why this opera is seldom performed. The production is appropriately small-scaled and has been beautifully filmed except that I'd rather not be that up-close to Bartolli when she's working her vocal fireworks. A rather boring 46-minute documentary about Paisiello's life is included. I don't expect to return often to this DVD.

This Tosca from a live performance at La Scala in March 2000 with a set redesigned by Lorenza Cantini, is beautifully photographed but a common-place performance. Maria Guleghina in the title role displays a thick voice with a pronounced wobble, hardly sounding like "the leading dramatic soprano of our time" as pronounced in the DVD's booklet. Salvatore Licitra, who made his rushed debut at the Met substituting for Pavarotti, negotiates Cavaradossi with considerable finesse if limited distinction (see the REVIEW of his first solo recording), and Leo Nucci's Scarpia is memorable. Riccardo Muti's direction is firm and sensitive, with some surprising downward portamento slides in the opera's finale. There are 37 cues, no libretto, no "extras."

"The Last Night of the Proms" was recorded at the last concert of the prestigious BBC Proms series of 2000. It's televised world-wide and we are fortunate to have it in Dolby Digital surround sound; it's unfortunate it isn't 5.1 surround, but the sound is good enough especially if your sound system has a way to spread the sound over all speakers. And what an occasion it was! It's a long concert—about 166 minutes—without a dull moment. Hilary Hahn is the superb soloist in the Mozart violin concerto and plays a short Bach encore. Jane Eaglen is in fine voice in the final scene from Strauss' Salome and also participates in Rule, Britania! Pomp and Circumstance is a thrilling experience! Camera work shows not only the inside of the festively-decked out Royal Albert Hall, but gives us views of the thousands of Britishers who filled major parks to watch the proceedings on TV. It's all very exciting, beautifully filmed and highly recommended.

Cecilia Bartoli's singing of five Mozart concert arias is quite extraordinary in every way, with Harnoncourt and Concentus Musicus providing exemplary accompaniment. Texts are provided in Italian but, unfortunately, are not translated. The only other music on the DVD is Mozart's Symphony No. 35 which deserves the warm reception from the audience at the Styriarte Festival, Graz, Austria July 13-14, 2001. It's a short program, but the DVD is filled out with a feature on the camera team's preparations for filming Cecilia Bartoli, Bartoli and Harnoncourt discussing the music, and excerpts from rehearsals. I wish there had been more music.

R.E.B. (December 2003)