Mozart - La Clemenza di Tito (Opernhaus Zurich 2005)
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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.Read more ›
I would just supplement my viewpoints on a couple of aspects.
Firstly, the set and costumes are far from OK.
The stage was too dark most of the time, and the costumes do not reflect adequately the status of the characters.
Secondly, all secco recitatives were being cut out and replaced by Italian dialogue. This proved problematic to most, if not all, singers performing. For instance, Tito's first aria began as a spoken dialogue, and Jonas Kaufmann really had some problem launching into the music. The characters generally are not at home with the archaic Italian and could not give full expressiveness to the words most of the time. This problem was added on by the fact that most of the cast aren't Italians.
Thirdly, the orchestra, while well-conducted, was a bit too loud in some of the major arias.
Most of the singers however did a splendid job - Kassarova being the vocal star. Eva Mei had certain vocal problems in Act 1, but progressed quite well in later Acts. The final great aria 'Non piu di fiori vage catene', though not done to the level of Alexandrina Pendatchanska in Jacob's version (and who could surpass that one, any way?), was very dramatically rendered. The title role of Tito was adequately performed by Kaufmann, but by no means should this be counted as his performance in top form: first of all, his spoken Italian sounds nasal and funny, almost to the point of being hilarious (listen to his 'Servillia' as Tito addressed his would-be fiance for the first time). Secondly, his voice has grown too large for a coloratura role as Tito, and he had to perform at the rare end of the stage most of the time to 'compensate' for his large volume. Otherwise he did sound both heroic and benevolent, both vital cornerstones for the role. He would have been benefitted more if the recitatives were there instead of spoken dialogues.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mei, Kaufman, Kasarova: a dream cast. I think Kasarova is the most interesting voice in opera today and she does not disappoint here. I wish more opera houses would use her. Read morePublished 14 months ago by T. Weaver
The good bits: very clever, refreshing, subtly unusual takes on Tito/Sesto and Vitellia/Sesto's relationships. Read morePublished on May 16, 2014 by bbk
Modern dress is preferable to poor costuming but I prefer to see Mozart set in Mozart's era. Cast is fine. Have already watched it a few times.Published on February 16, 2014 by Jan Cambria
Loved the music and the singers who were excellent but this DVD is an example of how important a director with imagination is to an opera production. Read morePublished on January 9, 2014 by jutta joines
I like the cast and singers in this recording too like I do the others I own also very goodPublished on August 22, 2013 by Catherine Swartz
I enjoy opera. I disappointed myself by not reading more about the cast and presentation of this usually beautiful opera. Read morePublished on April 2, 2013 by jill
Entire cast was good especially Vasselina Kasarova. Jonas Kauffmann , charismatic, but his voice now is much better. Franz Welser - Most, in total control, wonderful conducting. Read morePublished on August 6, 2012 by Damiron
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. Read morePublished on January 28, 2009 by Francesco Alvarez
Received product in timely manner in good condition.
Wonderful production of this Mozart opera.
Kaufmann is new to me and I'm very impressed. Read more
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