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Joseph K. So
La Scena Musicale, January 2010

Every summer, half a million people attend performances at the Arena di Verona. Any opera lover should make a pilgrimage to this legendary Roman amphitheatre at least once. The atmosphere is unique and unforgettable: performances start at 9 pm and often go beyond midnight,with casual audiences prone to sing along.Candles are lit at dusk—the sea of flickering lights makes for a stunning visual experience…This TDK box set of three Italian warhorses gives a very good idea of the Verona experience. The Franco Zeffirelli Madama Butterfly from 2004 is typical of his work—incredibly elaborate sets, sumptuous costumes, busy stage action involving cast of hundreds, and ultra-traditional interpretation. The three principals, Cedolins, Giordani and Pons, are big-name artists with generous voices and stage presence…Cedolins also sings the title role in Tosca from 2006. She is a good Tosca…Argentinean tenor Marcelo Alvarez is a fine Cavaradossi.The evergreen Ruggero Raimondi shows he still has what it takes to be a vocally commanding and evil Scarpia. Daniel Oren gives a fluid reading of the score. The modern, stylish production is a pleasure to the eye, with the Te Deum scene particularly impressive. Video quality is also excellent. The oldest of the three videos is Aïda (from 1992)…Top vocal honours go to both the young Dolora Zajick (Amneris) and a robust-voiced Juan Pons (Amonasro)…worthwhile if you want a taste of this fabled arena.

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