Puccini Tosca opera to libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed 2006 by Hugo de Ana at the Arena di Verona. Stars Fiorenza Cedolins (Tosca), Marcelo Alvarez (Cavaradossi), Ruggero Raimondi (Scarpia), Marco Spotti (Angeotti), Fabio Previati (Sacristan), Enrico Facini (Spoletta), Giuliano Pelizon (Sciarrone), Angelo Nardinocchi (Jailer), and Ottavia Dorrucci (Shepherd). Daniel Oren conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Arena di Verona (Chorus Master Marco Faelli) and the A.Li.Ve. Chorus (Conductor Paolo Facincani). Set, costumes, and lighting design by Hugo de Ana; stage design by Giuseppe De Filippi Venezia; lighting by Paolo Mazzon; costumes by Tirelli Costumi. Directed for TV by Loreena Kaufman. Released  2009,  disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. This is the same production of Tosca that was later released by Arthaus.  There was only one substantial change between the two versions: the Arthaus Musik disc has Japanese subtitles whereas this TDK version does not. Grade: D

It's an article of faith with fans of HDVDs that everything benefits from high-resolution video. But there is a glaring exception: HDVD recordings made of outdoor productions (designed to be seen in large amphitheaters) usually turn out poorly. Subject Tosca in the Arena di Verona is prosecutor's "Exhibit 1." The setting probably looked OK from 200 meters up the hillside in the dark. But up close in high-definition the stage looks like a brodingnagian scrap yard in front of a burned-out industrial plant. Humongous crude props litter the place. The costumes and make up were designed to look rich at long distance by weak light---to the HDVD camera they look garish and cartoonish. The stage blood wouldn't scare a 3-year old. All this misery-en-scène magnifies the physical ugliness of the singers: aging Fiorenza Cedolins has turned into a frump, pudgy Marcelo Alvarez needs to check himself in at the fat clinic, and Ruggero Raimondi looks like a doorman at a Las Vegas wedding palace.

The audience looks uncomfortable fanning themselves in the heat; only the swarming insects are having fun. So what's left to say about the orchestra and the singing amidst the junkyard? Well, not too bad actually. But why would anyone waste his time with this when he has so many other better choices to pick from?

Here's a YouTube clip that of this that doesn't look too bad. But we warn you that this production has many scenes where the sets and costumes look ridiculous.