DONIZETTI: La Fille du Regiment
OFFENBACH: The Tales of Hoffmann
PUCCINI: La Bohème
Decca's DVD of La Fille du Regiment documents a 2005 Teatro Carlo Felice performance of the Comunale di Bologna production of the comic opera. Director Emilio Sagi moved the action to a small village in France in the final days of World War II after the withdrawal of the Germans and before the Allies arrived, feeling this would give a greater sense of reality as well as adding to the drama. Marie is no longer the ward of the Twenty-first Regiment; now she is the daughter of an American army captain. This is quite unintrusive—what counts is the music itself and how it is sung—and this lively performance is stunning. Juan Diego Flórez is in spectacular form as Tonio, belting out with assurance the nine high Cs of "Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fete"—twice, as it is encored. The entire cast is first-rate, with Patricia Ciofi a charming Marie. Sets and costumes are bright (after the dark opening scene), the camera is where it should be most of the time, and the 5.1 sound is superb. Everyone seems to be having a great time, and you doubtless will also. The second disk's features include a backstage discussion with the cast and conductor and a brief film about Teatro Carlo Felice. A terrific issue!
Offenbach's masterpiece The Tales of Hoffman is seen in this fine production by Giancarlo Del Monaco recorded May 12 and 15, 2006 at Palacio Euskalduna de Bilbao. Technically everything is first-rate; high definition video and surround sound are what they should be and Michael Scott's sets and costumes are appropriate. The same team was involved in the Barcelona production of La Bohème (see REVIEW), and the singing is of a uniformly high level. Aquiles Machado, whose Rodolfo in Bohème was disappointing, is in fine vocal state here, although visually he is unconvincing. Katharine Goeldner's Nickalausse is superb, Konstantin Gorny equally fine as the four villains. Soprano Milagros Poblador presents Olympia as a rather chubby doll who hasn't yet been perfected in the coloratura department—but then I've been spoiled having just viewed Natalie Dessay in the role (see REVIEW). A brief feature is an intriguing interview with Juan Carlos Matellanes, President of ABAO, the organization that presents an extensive opera season in Bilboa with the purpose of making opera accessible to everyone—and with a balanced budget.
This Bohème recorded in the Zürich Opera House in July 2005 has little of interest for the video collector. Marcello Giordani and Cristina Gallardo-Domas,who starred in the Butterfly that opened the Met's current season, are featured as the two unfortunate lovers. Giordani today is a better singer than he was in 2005, Gallardo-Domas disappoints both vocally and dramatically. She can be seen on another video of this opera, the Madrid production with Achiles Machado's disappointing Rodolfo. In this Zürich production, as in Madrid, the second act begins immediately after the first. Vincent Lemaire's sets are stark, Jorge Jara's costumes simple. Video and sound are fine, but other this is not a performance to view more than once.
R.E.B. (April 2007)