Questo è il bacio di Tosca
Tosca’s Kiss Videos
Il Bacio di Tosca (1984)
SCREEN: ‘TOSCA’S KISS’
CASA VERDI in Milan was founded by Giuseppe Verdi as a home for retired singers and musicians from the Italian opera. Although the royalties from Verdi’s work ran out some years ago, the home carries on, and a Swiss movie maker , Daniel Schmid, had the engaging idea of doing a documentary about it. What he found in Casa Verdi, along with a piano in every corner of the resplendent public rooms, were elderly people adrift in music and memories.
”Tosca’s Kiss,” which opens today at the Film Forum, is a compilation of interviews, conversations and operatic reminiscences. They are not put together with particular finesse, but several have poignant charm.
Sara Scuderi, a renowned interpreter of Tosca in the 1920’s at La Scala – a name she utters in a whisper – hums, giggles and sings along as she listens to one of her old record-ings. ”Bella ! Bella! Bella!” she cries.
Miss Scuderi also performs a seemingly impromptu duet with Leonida Bellon, a heroic tenor who can still belt out a big number. They touch hands in shared melancholy; they kiss. In another scene, she gives him ”Tosca’s kiss” – a dagger to Scarpia’s heart. ”Die, you wretch!” He falls into a telephone booth. After a moment, he asks, ”Can I get up?”
On his feet, Mr. Bellon, the house humorist, criticizes a fellow resident. a baritone, for holding a note too long. ”Switch off the light when you leave,” he says.
A dapper 80-year-old named Giuseppe Manacchini doesn’t let his wife (who played opposite him a half-century ago in ”La Traviata” and ”La Forza del Destino”) get in a word as he gives a running commentary on a trunkful of costumes he once took along on a tour to Rio de Janeiro, where he sang Rigoletto. ”When I think how I sweated in that jacket,” he says, and then, excitedly, ”I want to put it on.” As he dons Rigoletto’s outfit, we hear an old recording of him singing the role. Afterward, he repacks the costumes and bows to the trunk.
Age has not dulled the performers’ competitiveness. A former member of the La Scala chorus insists, between spoonfuls of soup, that it is the members of the chorus and not the soloists who keep an opera going.
Just as most operas have their ho-hum as well as hum-along passages, so between these bright moments are aimless and repetitious scenes . A particularly long segment focuses, somewhat cruelly, on a bustling little composer boasting of his accomplishments.
When the film works – about two-thirds of the time, enough for a good one-hour television documentary – it can be touching and exhilarating. The inhabitants of Casa Verdi, some wearing coats indoors against a chill that no coat can subdue, come into their own when they join in song. The roles they played years ago seem more real and certainly more warming to them than their lives offstage, even in the comfort of Casa Verdi.
”Here you never live in the present,” says a guard. A resident says, ”You’ll find me singing two hours after my death.”
The ending is inspired. With joy in their eyes and a spring in their step, five of those who have been featured in the film come before a curtain and take bows to resounding applause taped at La Scala. Bravissimo! Vissi d’arte TOSCA’S KISS, directed by Daniel Schmid; photography by Renato Berta; music by Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Gaetano Donizetti; produced by Hans-Ulrich Jordi and Marcel Hoehn; in Italian with English subtitles. At Film Forum 1, 57 Watts Street. Running time: 87 minutes.
This film has no rating. WITH: Sara Scuderi, Giovanni Puligheddu, Leonida Bellon, Salvatore Locapo, Giuseppe Manacchini. http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9900E1DE1238F937A15754C0A963948260