Tosca – Puccini – Royal Opera House
Jonathan Kent’s production, based in Rome around 1800, is in its tenth (or is it eleventh) revival. This awkward two tier production has lasted well, but is now tiring. Surely it is time to invest in a new grand staging of this most famous of operas.
The Royal Opera House has put together a great trio of singers, but not all of them fire at their peak. The Tosca of the Latvian soprano, Kristine Opolais, is a voice that, at its height, does not always deliver the ferocity of sound that might be desired, but the aria Vissi d’arte was admirably sung with great colour and her dramatic performance never lacked fortitude.
Her Act 2 aria was sung with the Scarpia of the great bass baritone, Bryn Terfel. His voice today perhaps doesn’t possess quite the rage or colour as when he opened this production in 2006, but he has all the subtlety and brute force required as the dastardly Chief of Police, who plays on religion, but only wants to conquer Tosca’s body – he would be sorely put out with today’s ‘Me Too Movement’!
And so we come to the Cavaradossi of Vittorio Grigolo, whose performance is a real curate’s egg. Most tenors would crave this tenor’s vocal ability that is Grigolo’s birthright. It is a voice of real substance and sparkle. His two long cries of ‘Vittoria’ in Act 2 were of phenomenal quality. But then somehow he goes and spoils it all by a superfluous and excessive interpretation of his musical lines, so much so that the Conductor, Alexander Joel, did brilliantly to keep the orchestra in time and the show on the road without falter. Perhaps his character was summed up by the extreme nature of his curtain call and his apparent need for applause – perhaps we all need this to a degree, but…………!!
The Orchestra were on top form under the baton of Joel and it was great to listen to many clever nuances from the musical score. His ability to drive the music and at the same time not overpower the singers, was a compliment to Joel and his interpretation.
Michael Mofidian, a Jette Parker Young Artist, was an adequate Angelotti, with Jonathan Lemalu as the Sacristan, Hubert Francis as Spoletta and Jihoon Kim as Sciarrone, all performed well. A word too for the nervous Shepherd Boy, Joshua Abrams, whose beautiful voice shone through, despite the odd mishap.
This great opera deserves three outstanding principals and in this performance it also had a Conductor to match.