The Thomas Beckett episode has always been one of the greatest events in the history of the Catholic Church in England and its far reaching effects still resound to this day. T.S. Eliot's play on the martyrdom of the famous Archbishop of Canterbury is also regarded as a very powerful piece of storytelling, so it is no wonder that Ildebrando Pizzetti based his "Assassinio nella Cattedrale" on this very work.
Although the opera is undoubtedly one of the most dramatic and overwhelming experiences in the whole 20th Century repertoire, performances are sadly, few and far between. This spellbinding film of a live version of the piece, fills a huge gap, which has been left empty for far too long.
The renowned bass, Ruggiero Raimondi gives a staggering performance in the role of the protagonist, and his portrayal is perhaps one of his most memorable. Morandi and his forces are caught up in the drama and the singing and playing is consistently inspired. The opera was filmed in the evocative Basilica di San Nicola di Bari, which dates from the Becket era giving the performance an aura of intense authenticity.
Daniele d'Onofro's stage direction and Tiziano Mancini's video direction are nothing short of superb and the viewer is hardly aware that he/she too is being sucked into the tragedy. Electrifying, despite the rather short viewing time.
Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech