Campy Clemenza

1.sestovitelliaBesides the production of La Clemenza di Tito still in repertory at the Met, Jean-Pierre Ponelle also made a film of the piece.  It was shot among the ruins of ancient Rome in 1980 and is one of those lip synched opera films popular in that era.  The forces involved are eclectic.  James Levine conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor with mainly American soloists.  Continue reading

Not a potato in sight

clemenzaToday’s MetHD broadcast was Mozart’s last, and arguably best, opera La Clemenza di Tito.  J-P Ponnelle’s production has been around for a while and offers nothing to offend traditionalists.  There’s not a baked potato, muscle suit or child sacrifice in sight.  The set, maybe more Italian Renaissance than Imperial Rome is elegant, undistracting and very singer friendly.  The costumes are a rather eclectic mix of late 17th century and Republican Rome with a bit of Lady Capulet thrown in but only the black number with the big panniers that Vitellia gets in Act 2 would excite much comment.  Direction then focuses rather on the characters and their relationships.

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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

Idomeneo at the Met

The 1982 Metropolitan Opera recording of Mozart’s Idomeneo will likely please those who like their Mozart on the well done side.  The story telling is straightforward (though there are some design quirks), the orchestra is big, the tempi are not too sprightly and the vocal talent is starry if not especially Mozartian.  To reinforce this James Levine has made a number of cuts and interpolations from different early performances to structure things a bit more like a grand opera and less like a tragédie lyrique. Continue reading