My review for the Modena / Reynolds disc has been wrongly placed by Amazon under the La Scala/Chailly version as well as being correctly placed where it should be. I am unable to rectify this Amazon mistake without losing the correctly placed review. Please do not blame me for this error and treat it with patience. You may even find it useful as a comparison!
................................................................................ Review relating to Teatro Comunale de Modena / Reynolds
This trilogy by Puccini is a very powerful dramatic and operatic experience when experienced as a whole and in as good a performance as here. Puccini conceived of the idea of a trilogy some years before he was able to find the material. One of the attractions of the idea was that he would be freed from the restraints of the longer 3 act format and be able to create a more concentrated `verismo' drama with one concentrated dramatic statement per opera.
The first to be written was Il Tabarro. Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi followed some time later when time was more pressured and both were written at the same time. All three operas deal with contrasting events surrounding death. Il Tabarro is a dark drama where infidelity leads to a crime of passion whereby the adulterer is finally killed by the husband. Suor Angelica is a harrowing tale whereby a young girl, sent to a convent by her vindictive aunt to atone for having an illegitimate child, finally commits suicide in order to join her now dead child in Heaven. In Gianni Schicchi the death of a rich relative leads to a Dickensian comedy whereby the relatives attempt to change the terms of the will.Read more ›
Edit 11/26/2012: This is for the Amarilli Nizza/Alberto Mastromarino version. Amazon has suddenly lumped this together with the Teatro Alla Scala production, which I have not seen and my review does not apply to that version.
Edit 2/5/12: I have listened to Il tabarro (the first opera of the three) again after some change in my set-up with better bass management and at a 3 db louder level. Soundstage is 160 degrees, with the harp and the double basses coming right out of the left surround, triangle out of the right sourround. You close your eyes and the voices move in front of you across the stage in a diagonal way as the boat is diagonally on the stage. Excellent depth. You can't create that any better. Audiowise, it is really on par with Mahler's 9th and La Gazetta (see my reviews). Reference recording that gets better as it gets louder. End of edit.
Picture quality is excellent. I listened to the DTS - MA 7.1 surround track and found the recording quality somewhere between very good and excellent. The sound stage is quite wide and very deep. A tad more use of the surround channels to widen the stage a bit more and bring the applause more from the back and I would have called it excellent. The principal singers carry microphones on their bodies, but well hidden. There are only a handful of shots where you see a hint of a microphone. The voices move along as the singers move, so they don't come out only through the center speaker. The orchestra and chorus are well balanced and hardly ever drown the principals. The benefit of carrying microphones. Overall, very enjoyable to listen to and one of the better sound recordings. Much to my surprise, the sound engineer isn't even mentioned in the booklet, let alone on the cover. You have to wait for the final credits to find out it's Elfride Foroni. Please give the woman some credit in the booklet!
Three different one act operas. Adultery, tragedy of a non-married mother, and comic trickery sum up the three acts. Puccini succeeded in giving each one of the operas its character. The production of Il tabarro is beautiful. In addition to the music the video shots are masterly done. Interesting to note, that the audience may be at a disadvantage as the different angles the video is shot is not available to the life audience. BlueRay technology excels here. After Il tabarro, Sour Angelica disappoints a little. The moving columns are somehow confusing, at least in the video production. It is possible that for the life audience it is less of a problem. In addition, the appearance of the boy with an angel is not climatic enough. Gianni Schicchi is funny and entertaining. The costumes seemed to me as an exaggeration and distraction from the music. Puccini created, with the libretto and the music, enough character for the greed of the Donati family. There is still some controversy if the "O mio babbino caro"aria's character fits the rest of the opera, but there is no doubt it is a beautiful aria. For some reason, it lacks enough Umpff. The three operas are produced in the "traditional" way. The music and the singers are very good. The overall human expressions are there as Puccini probably wanted. The sound is great and the filming is good. Recommended for an enjoyable evening and, Gianni Schicchi in particular, a good show to introduce someone to the world of opera
There are not many releases of this little trio and this is by far the best I have seen. The picture quality is outstanding with excellent sound and the production, especially Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica, is extremely well done. There is another version of Gianni Schicchi on Blu ray that I marginally prefer but this one is also very good. If you want Il Trittico do not hesitate.
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