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Dutch multi-media artist Saskia Boddeke and British stage and screen director Peter Greenaway produced Giovanna d’Arco at Parma’s Teatro Farnese, the stunning wood and stucco auditorium edifice reconstructed after the War. I suspect that this is an event that was probably breathtaking to attend, but doesn’t quite work on film. One of the problems is that the directors decided to stage the main action on a disc at one end of the auditorium, the orchestra gathered around its base, and with chorus filing on and offalong the stepped seating of the theatre. They also use some spectacular video effects, projected around the arches of the auditorium. At the performance this must have seemed spectacular, in close- up it loses impact. Boddeke also directs the film, and she sometimes uses a screen within the screen, so at times one isn’t sure whether one is watching the production’s video images as seen by the audience in situ or Boddeke’s superimposed tight frames. Added to which, the production is a bit messy, with Giovanna annoyingly dogged by two lookalike actors representing her innocent and martial aspects. But the musical side comes across well, with Vittoria Yeo an excellent Giovanna, her soprano straight-toned and pure, but also blossoming for the more expansive challenges. Luciano Ganci is a lyric Carlo, and Vittorio Vitelli a solid Giacomo. Ramón Tebar conducts the sometimes jaunty score with appreciable seriousness.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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