Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

West Wind: A new song-cycle by Sally Beamish

In a recent article in BBC Music Magazine tenor James Gilchrist reflected on the reason why early-nineteenth-century England produced no corpus of art song to match the German lieder of Schumann, Schubert and others, despite the great flowering of English Romantic poetry during this period.

Florencia en el Amazonas, NYCO

With the New York Premiere of Florencia en el Amazonas, the New York City Opera Steps Out of the Shadows of the Past

Idomeneo, re di Creta, Garsington

Opportunities to see Idomeneo are not so frequent as they might be, certainly not so frequent as they should be.

Don Carlo in San Francisco

Not merely Don Carlo, but the five-act Don Carlo in the 1886 Modena version! The welcomed esotericism of San Francisco Opera’s extraordinary spring season.

Jenůfa in San Francisco

The early summer San Francisco Opera season has the feel of a classy festival. There is an introduction of Spanish director Calixto Bieito to American audiences, a five-act Don Carlo and two awaited, inevitable role debuts, Karita Mattila as Kostelnička and Malin Bystrom as Janacek's Jenůfa.

Musings on the “American Ring

Now that the curtain has long fallen on the third and last performance of the Ring cycle at the Washington National Opera (WNO), it is safe to say that the long-anticipated production has been an unqualified success for the company, director Francesca Zambello, and conductor Philippe Auguin.

Nabucco, Covent Garden

Most of the attention during this revival of Daniele Abbado’s 2013 production of Nabucco has been directed at Plácido Domingo’s reprise of the title role, with the critical reception somewhat mixed.

Tristan, English National Opera

My first Tristan, indeed my first Wagner, in the theatre was ENO’s previous staging of the work, twenty years ago, in 1996. The experience, as it should, as it must, although this is alas far from a given, quite overwhelmed me.

The Cunning Little Vixen, Glyndebourne

Four years ago, almost to the day (13th to 12th), I saw Melly Still’s production of The Cunning Little Vixen during its first Glyndebourne run. I found myself surprised how much more warmly I responded to it this time.

London: A 90th birthday tribute to Horovitz

This recital celebrated both the work of the Park Lane Group, which has been supporting the careers of outstanding young artists for 60 years, and the 90th birthday of Joseph Horovitz, who was born in Vienna in 1926 and emigrated to England aged 12.

Opera Las Vegas: A Blazing Carmen in the Desert

Headed by General Director Luana DeVol, a world-renowned dramatic soprano, Opera Las Vegas is a relatively new company that presents opera with first-rate casts at the University of Las Vegas’s Judy Bayley Theater. In 2014 they presented Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and in 2015, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. This year they offered a blazing rendition of Georges Bizet’s Carmen.

La bohème, Opera Holland Park

Ever since a friend was reported as having said he would like something in return for modern-dress Shakespeare (how quaint that term seems now, as if anyone would bat an eyelid!), namely an Elizabethan-dress staging of Look Back in Anger, I have been curious about the possibilities of ‘down-dating’, as I suppose we might call it. Rarely, if ever, do we see it, though.

Holland Festival: Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, Amsterdam

Leading a very muscular Dutch Radio Philharmonic, Principal Conductor Markus Stenz brilliantly delivered Alban Berg’s Wozzeck with a superb Florian Boesch in the lead and a mesmerising Asmik Grigorian as Marie his wife.

Lalo: Complete Songs

Edouard Lalo (1823-92) is best known today for his instrumental works: the Symphonie espagnole (which is, despite the title, a five-movement violin concerto), the Symphony in G Minor, and perhaps some movements from his ballet Namouna, a scintillating work that the young Debussy adored.

Pietro Mascagni: Iris

There can’t be that many operas that start with an extended solo for double bass. At Holland Park, the eerie, angular melody for lone bass player which opens Pietro Mascagni’s Iris immediately unsettled the relaxed mood of the summer evening.

L’italiana in Algeri, Garsington Opera

George Souglides’ set for Will Tuckett’s new production of Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri at Garsington would surely have delighted Liberace.

Carmen in San Francisco

Calixto Bieito is always news, Carmen with a good cast is always news. So here is the news.

Eugene Onegin, Garsington Opera

Distinguished theatre director Michael Boyd’s first operatic outing was his brilliant re-invention of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo for the Royal Opera at the Roundhouse in 2015, so what he did next was always going to rouse interest.

Bohuslav Martinů’s Ariane and Alexandre bis

Although Bohuslav Martinů’s short operas Ariane and Alexandre bis date from 1958 and 1937 respectively, there was a distinct tint of 1920s Parisian surrealism about director Rodula Gaitanou’s double bill, as presented by the postgraduate students of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Lohengrin, Dresden

The eyes of the opera world turned recently to Dresden—the city where Wagner premiered his Rienzi, Fliegende Holländer, and Tannhäuser—for an important performance of Lohengrin. For once in Germany it was not about the staging.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Angela Gheorghiu as Tosca [Photo by Catherine Ashmore courtesy of The Royal Opera House]
12 Jul 2009

Tosca at Royal Opera House

This revival of Jonathan Kent’s 2006 production of Tosca brings to an end the ROH’s ‘Italian Season’ in fine style.

Giacomo Puccini: Tosca

Tosca: Angela Gheorghiu; Cavaradossi: Marcello Giordani; Scarpia: Bryn Terfel; Spoletta: Martyn Hill; Angelotti: Kostas Smoriginas; Sacristan: Jeremy White; Sciarrone: Matthew Hargreaves; Gaoler: John Morrissey. The Royal Opera. Conductor: Jacques Lacombe. Director: Jonathan Kent. Designs: Paul Brown. Lighting: Mark Henderson.

Above: Angela Gheorghiu as Tosca

All photos by Catherine Ashmore courtesy of The Royal Opera House

 

The season has hardly had a dud moment, the highlight perhaps being the momentous Barbiere but this Tosca has to run that a close second, with its central trio of singers as well balanced as anyone could possibly desire, excellent orchestral sound under Jacques Lacombe and a staging which respects the opera’s traditions yet does not become mired in them.

Giordani_Tosca_ROH.gifMarcello Giordani as Cavaradossi

I have not previously warmed to Angela Gheorghiu’s singing, but this is a part which she seems to have been born to play — she’s a diva, after all, and the pseudo-coquettish shenanigans in Act I were bearable in her hands and voice where they grate from others, and the histrionics of later on were convincingly done — on this showing if poor Cavaradossi had lived, he would probably not have survived ‘il Bacio di Tosca’ for very long. She sang ‘Vissi d’arte’ with limpid tone and a kind of heartfelt beseeching of which I had not thought her capable, and her scenes with Cavaradossi, especially those describing their idyllic future, were very moving.

Marcello Giordani, a sadly infrequent guest here in London, is the Met’s tenor of choice, and it’s easy to hear why — this is a powerful, juicy, ringing voice but it is much more bel canto in style than the usual bulldog can belto in this role, and for once you could actually imagine this aristo turned Voltairean as a painter. He and Gheorgiou seemed to have a natural chemistry, the often stagy love scenes actually convincing, and he passed what to my mind is the true test of a great Cavaradossi, with a tender, finely phrased account of ‘O dolci mani.’

Bryn Terfel seems to have taken to heart the libretto’s instruction in Act III, that he should sing ‘insinuante e con intenzione’ — this was a creepy, malevolent Scarpia, one before it was easy to imagine that all Rome had trembled. I was less convinced by his desire for Tosca — the cries of ‘Ah! Tosca’ and ‘finalmente mia!’ sounding more complacent than impassioned — but his wrath was horrible to contemplate, made even more so by the characteristic retention of a beautiful, smooth legato line.

Gheorghi_Terfel_Tosca_ROH_3.gifAngela Gheorghiu as Tosca and Bryn Terfel as Scarpia

The smaller parts were admirably taken, Martyn Hill a finely oily Spoletta, Kostas Smoriginas a sympathetic Angelotti, and Jeremy White an avuncular, expressive Sacristan. Orchestrally we were in surprisingly commanding hands, given that the conductor was making his house debut conducting opera (he has been a stalwart of the Ballet for some time) — the lower strings especially had been coaxed into chamber music-like intimacy and the brass sparkled rather than blared.

The production is traditional in the best sense, in that Paul Brown’s designs present mostly realistic depictions of Sant’ Andrea and the Castel Sant’Angelo, the latter set against a deep blue, starry sky emblazoned with a central angel’s wing, finely suggesting both Bernini’s Angel on the bridge by the castle, and the ‘Avenging Angel’ which stands atop the building. The central influence in Scarpia’s study seems to be Cellini, the massive quality of his bronzes suiting the man’s power and ego. Mark Henderson’s lighting evocatively suggests both claustrophobic interiors and encroaching night, and Stephen Barlow’s direction of the principals follows Jonathan Kent’s naturalistic, unforced approach.

Tosca_ROH_Scene.gifA scene from Tosca

Like the previous Visconti staging, this Tosca will be with us for many years, but it is hard to imagine it being graced with such strong principal singers as this time around. Just four more performances, on July 11th, 14th, 16th and 18th.

Melanie Eskenazi

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):