Tosca at the Grange Park Opera
Tosca was chosen by Grange Park Opera to open its new theatre at the home of the mercurial Bamber Gascoigne at West Horsley Place in Surrey. The modern horseshoe design on four tiers with a semi-domed roof enables you to enjoy a clear vibrant acoustic sound. This sound is indeed enhanced by the naked state of the concrete walls, floors and metal beams, which have not been dressed by any plaster or carpet that could deflect the sound quality. It is a remarkable achievement by Wasfi Kani and her team to have built this beautiful theatre in the space of only a year. Bearing in mind the difficulties of disentangling this opera company from its old home at The Grange in Hampshire – which still continues as an opera house – it is perhaps fitting that Tosca, with its depiction of torture, murder and suicide, has been chosen as the opening opera for this wonderful new venue.
The premier of Puccini’s Tosca was performed in Paris exactly 130 years ago and has been one of the most successful of all operas. This production is directed by Peter Relton, who gives us a vivid traditional interpretation, without the awkward modernity, which is prevalent in so many productions nowadays. In a simple 600 seater theatre, it was a pleasure to witness this production and the interaction between the artists.
The Tosca was the dramatic Russian soprano, Ekaterina Metlova, who won the first prize in the Spanish international vocal competition in 2010 and has sung dramatic roles at a number of different houses in Europe. She has a fierce attack and wonderful top to her voice, although her chest notes are still quite thin and her dramatic interpretation of the role still needs some time. However, her duets with her Cavaradossi, the Maltese tenor, Joseph Calleja, were tremendous. Calleja was singing the role of Cavaradossi for the first time and his voice was well suited. As he adds this opera to his repertoire he will be sought out constantly for his interpretation of this role, which will undoubtedly mature over the years. His substantial tenor voice is a match for any of his tenor compatriots today and his victory song in Act 2 blew the cobwebs out of every corner of the opera house. Roland Wood produced a steady portrayal of Scarpia, without necessarily enthralling us with the depth of the role. The deep bass of the Angelotti, Jihoon Kim, also shone through.
Overall, it was an exciting beginning to an exciting new opera house, with a performance that was beautifully conducted by Gianluca Marciano, who worked outstandingly with the BBC Concert Orchestra for the most enjoyable of evenings.
With kind regards,
Thursday, 8 June 2017