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Pietro Mascagni : Cavalleria rusticana
Ruggero Leoncavallo : Pagliacci

Violetta Urmana (Santuzza), Vincenzo La Scola (Turiddu), Dragana Jugovic (Lola), Viorica Cortez (Mamma Lucia), Marco di Felice (Alfio)
Vladimir Galouzine (Canio), Maria Bayo (Nedda), Carlo Guelfi (Tonio), Antonio Gandia (Beppe), Ángel Ódena (Silvio)
Chorus and orchestra of the Teatro Real (Madrid Symphony Orchestra and Chorus), Jesús López Cobos (musical director), Johannes Leiacker (set designer), Birgit Wentsch (costume designer), Wolfgand von Zoubek (lighting designer), Giancarlo del Monaco (stage director), Angel Luís Ramirez (television director)
Recorded live at the Teatro Real (2007) – DVD1: 141’ 44”, DVD2: 43’13”
Extra features: interviews with Giancarlo del Monaco, Jesús López Cobos, Violetta Urmana, Vincenzo La Scola, Vladimir Galouzine & Maria Bayo
An Opus Arte/Teatro Real production in association with TVE Ref. # OA 0983 D – Sung in Italian with English, French, German, Spanish & Italian subtitles

Since its reopening, Madrid’s Teatro Real has presented world-class productions owed in great part to Maestro Jesús López Cobos and artistic director Antonio Moral: La Traviata (2003), Pique Dame (2004), Dialogues des carmélites (2006), or Tannhäuser (2009) (read here), to name just a few. The recent dismissal of such a winning team has bewildered – to say the least – Madrid’s musical microcosm and beyond.

The double-bill presented in this DVD might not be in the top-ten of Teatro Real’s finest productions, nonetheless, it is quite an appealing production that deserved to be filmed. Famed stage director Giancarlo Del Monaco strongly believes that the two operas should always be performed together. As Del Monaco notes in the interview contained in the extra features of this recording, they are “two sides of the same coin” and represent “the fundamental diptych” of Verismo. Even though this is not a novel idea, it is quite coherent: the performance opens with Tonio singing Pagliacci’s prologue among the spectators (waiting until the last bars to walk on the stage), then immediately moves on to Cavalleria rusticana. In a gripping exit, it is Tonio - not Canio - who cries out the famous line “la commedia è finita” as he walks away through the audience.

The link between the two dramas is further underscored when Turiddu’s inert body is carried away as the first chords of Pagliacci rise from the pit. Del Monaco also manages to ingeniously highlight the contrasts between the two operas. Cavalleria rusticana is treated like a Greek tragedy, with a glaring white set reminiscent of a marble quarry and a slowly moving chorus all dressed in black. Conversely, the action of Pagliacci, set in the 1950’s, is colorful, brisk, and more in the Verismo tradition.

The other assets of this production are on the musical side. Vincenzo La Scola sings a very attractive Turiddu, Violetta Urmana is a passionate Santuzza, as are Viorica Cortez (Mamma Lucia), Dragana Jugovic (Lola) and all supporting roles. Maria Bayo is an alluring Nedda and Vladimir Galouzine a vicious, yet likeable Canio.

Jesús López Cobos’ baton is crisp and well-balanced, while Teatro Real’s orchestra and chorus produce a refined and articulate sound.

Extras include expected and mostly bland interviews with principals.

All in all, a DVD that deserves attention, all the more since filmed productions of these two classics are far from being commonplace.

Christian Dalzon




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