Pulp Figaro

Today’s Ponelle production is the 1976 Le Nozze di Figaro.  It has the starriest cast of any of the Ponelle films I’ve seen to date; Herrman Prey in the title role, Mirella Freni as Susanna, Kiri Te Kanawa as the countess and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as the count.  It even, rather bizarrely, has Maria Ewing as Cherubino.  To round things out Karl Böhm conducts with the Wiener Philharmoniker and Staatsopernchor.  As we shall see, musically it lives up to the casting.   Continue reading

Cartoonish barbiere

So following on from Jean-Pierre Ponelle’s last film we now turn to one of his earliest, a 1972 version of Rossini’s Il barbieri di Siviglia.  It’s based on his production for La Scala but is, as usual with Ponelle, studio recorded and shot in the studio with lip synching.  It’s not an especially interesting production but it does have a starry cast including Hermann Prey in the title role.  Continue reading

Artificial and cruel Così

In 1988 Jean-Pierre Ponnelle made the last of his lip synched opera films; Mozart’s Così fan tutte.  It carries Ponnelle’s trademark “artificialityeven further than in other of his films that I have seen.  The sets, the costumes, the acting and the camera work never let us forget that this is a work of the, in the director’s words, “greatest artificiality”.  It also becomes increasingly clear as the piece progresses that Ponnelle has a very clear idea of what “the opera is about”.  Continue reading

Ponelle’s Cenerentola

There’s been a fair amount of discussion of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s film version of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito over at The Earworm so I thought it would be a good time to dig out his La Scala production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola.  They have a lot in common; an obsession with statuary and heavy focus on verticality that makes the picture often seem taller than it is wide are just two.  The Rossini, despite being filmed at La Scala is very filmic.  It’s much more like a movie than a video recording of a staged performance.  Continue reading