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 Performances

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

The Maid of Pskov (Pskovityanka) , St. Petersburg

I recently spent four days in St. Petersburg, timed to coincide with the annual Stars of the White Nights Festival. Yet the most memorable singing I heard was neither at the Mariinsky Theater nor any other performance hall. It was in the small, nearly empty church built for the last Tsar, Nicholas II, at Tsarskoye Selo.

Prom 11 — Grange Park Opera: Fiddler on the Roof

As I walked up Exhibition Road on my way to the Royal Albert Hall, I passed a busking tuba player whose fairground ditties were enlivened by bursts of flame which shot skyward from the bell of his instrument, to the amusement and bemusement of a rapidly gathering pavement audience.

Saul, Glyndebourne

A brilliant theatrical event, bringing Handel’s theatre of the mind to life on stage

Roberta Invernizzi, Wigmore Hall

‘Here, thanks be to God, my opera is praised to the skies and there is nothing in it which does not please greatly.’ So wrote Antonio Vivaldi to Marchese Guido Bentivoglio d’Aragona in Ferrara in 1737.

Montemezzi: L’amore dei tre Re

Asphyxiations, atrophy by poison, assassination: in Italo Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre Re (The Love of the Three Kings, 1913) foul deed follows foul deed until the corpses are piled high. 

Prom 4: Andris Nelsons

The precision of attack in the opening to Beethoven’s Creatures of Prometheus Overture signalled thoroughgoing excellence in the contribution of the CBSO to this concert.

BBC Proms: The Cardinall’s Musick

When he was skilfully negotiating the not inconsiderable complexities, upheavals and strife of musical and religious life at the English royal court during the Reformation, Thomas Tallis (c.1505-85) could hardly have imagined that more than 450 years later people would be queuing round the block for the opportunity spend their lunch-hour listening to the music that he composed in service of his God and his monarch.

Oberon, Persephone and Iolanta at the Aix Festival

Two of the important late twentieth century stage directors, Robert Carsen and Peter Sellars, returned to the Aix Festival this summer. Carsen’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a masterpiece, Sellars’ strange Tchaikovsky/Stravinsky double bill is simply bizarre.

Betrothal and Betrayal : JPYA at the ROH

The annual celebration of young talent at the Royal Opera House is a magnificent showcase, and it was good to see such a healthy audience turnout.

Jenůfa Packs a Wallop at DMMO

There are few operas that can rival the visceral impact of a well-staged Jenůfa and Des Moines Metro Opera has emphatically delivered the goods.

Des Moines Fanciulla a Minnie-Triumph

The Girl of the Golden West (La Fanciulla del West) often gets eclipsed when compared to the rest of the mature Puccini canon.

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015 with Sakari Oramo in exuberant form, pulling off William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the theatrical flair it deserves.

Monsters and Marriage at the Aix Festival

Plus an evening by the superb Modigliani Quartet that complimented the brief (55 minutes) a cappella opera for six female voices Svadba (2013) by Serbian composer Ana Sokolovic (b. 1968). She lives in Canada.

Des Moines: A Whole Other Secret Garden

With its revelatory production of Rappaccini’s Daughter performed outdoors in the city’s refurbished Botanical Gardens, Des Moines Metro Opera has unlocked the gate to a mysterious, challenging landscape of musical delights.

Seductive Abduction in Iowa

Des Moines Metro Opera has quite a crowd-pleasing production of The Abduction from the Seraglio on its hands.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Garsington Opera

Even by Shakespeare’s standards A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of his earlier plays, boasts a particularly fantastical plot involving a bunch of aristocrats (the Athenian Court of Theseus), feuding gods and goddesses (Oberon and Titania), ‘Rude Mechanicals’ (Bottom, Quince et al) and assorted faeries and spirits (such as Puck).

Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

What do we call Tristan und Isolde? That may seem a silly question. Tristan und Isolde, surely, and Tristan for short, although already we come to the exquisite difficulty, as Tristan and Isolde themselves partly seem (though do they only seem?) to recognise of that celebrated ‘und’.

Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

So this was it, the Pelléas which had apparently repelled critics and other members of the audience on the opening night. Perhaps that had been exaggeration; I avoided reading anything substantive — and still have yet to do so.

Richard Strauss: Arabella

I had last seen Arabella as part of the Munich Opera Festival’s Richard Strauss Week in 2008. It is not, I am afraid, my favourite Strauss opera; in fact, it is probably my least favourite. However, I am always willing to be convinced.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Jill Gardner as Tosca and Adam Diegel as Cavaradossi
06 Feb 2013

Tosca by Arizona Opera

The libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa for Giacomo Puccini’s opera Tosca is based on Victorien Sardou’s French play, La Tosca.

Tosca by Arizona Opera

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Jill Gardner as Tosca and Adam Diegel as Cavaradossi

Photos courtesy of Arizona Opera

 

Since they are sung, a mere one-third of the words found in the play have to tell the opera’s story. Thus, the opera needs to have fewer characters than the play and only the most important scenes can be shown. For example in the opera, the escaped prisoner, Angelotti, and the painter, Cavaradossi, already know each other. In the play, they meet for the first time onstage, so they spend time on stage explaining their histories and backgrounds to each other. The opera eliminates the roles of Tosca’s maid and Cavaradossi’s two servants.

0228IMG_2914.gifJill Gardner as Tosca and Gordon Hawkins as Scarpia

In the opera, both Cavaradossi’s torture and Scarpia’s murder take place at the Farnese Palace. In the play, Cavaradossi is interrogated and tortured at his country house, where he was captured, and Tosca stabs Scarpia at his apartment in the Castel Sant’Angelo. Only in the opera does Cavaradossi have a final soliloquy: ‘E lucevan le stelle’ (The Stars Were Shining Brightly). In the play, Cavaradossi is killed off stage, not in front of the audience as he is in the opera. At the very end of the play, Spoletta tells Tosca that he and his men will send her to join her lover. She cries “J’y vais, canailles!” (“I am going there, swine!”). In the opera, her final words are more dignified: “O Scarpia, avanti a Dio!” (“O Scarpia, before God!”).

On the evening of January 26, 2013, Arizona Opera presented an interesting traditional production of Tosca with an excellent cast. The set by Donald Oenslager was constructed in the 1950s for the New York City Opera. In the first scene, in the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, the painted set looks as if the nave is miles deep. That painted set will be archived after these performances and it certainly deserves to be kept as an example of stage perspective, now a rarely seen art. The costumes by A.T. Jones and Sons set the era perfectly. Director Bernard Uzan told the story in energetic verismo style. This was opera as contact sport and it was wonderful to see.

Jill Gardner’s Tosca was a thinking diva who used her feminine wiles to get her way. She sang with dramatic tones that belied her slim stature. Adam Diegel was an intense Cavaradossi who started off slowly but sang his Vittoria with exciting sounds. His final ‘E lucevan le stelle’ was an unwavering expanse of lyrical sound. Gordon Hawkins was a rather thuggish Scarpia who bullied not only his victims but also his underlings. His sole moment of real dignity was the ‘Te Deum.’

0516IMG_3340.gifExecution of Cavaradossi (Adam Diegel)

Peter Strummer was a most amusing Sacristan who thoroughly enjoyed irritating Cavaradossi whom he thought a non-believer. There was a good bit of horseplay in the middle of Act I, but musically, no one missed a beat. In two of the smaller parts, Craig Colclough declaimed Angelotti’s lines with vigor and great dignity in Act I and showed his comic side as the lazy Jailer in the last act. Members of AZ Opera’s young artist program showed their promising abilities. David Margulis was a sadistic Spoletta and Thomas Cannon a strong and striking Sciarrone.

Chorus Master Henri Venanzi has made the Arizona Opera Chorus into a first rate ensemble and they sang their scenes with great gusto. Principal Conductor Joel Revzen gave a powerful rendition of the verismo score that added greatly to the dramatic situations seen on stage. As always, he was most considerate of his singers and at the same his rendition had well thought out tempi and a great deal of translucence. It was a dark, rainy day outside but in Phoenix Symphony Hall there was the sunshine of Roman drama.

Maria Nockin


Cast and Production

Tosca: Jill Gardner; Cavaradossi: Adam Diegel; Scarpia: Gordon Hawkins; Sacristan: Peter Strummer; Angelotti/Jailer: Craig Colclough; Spoletta: David Margulis; Sciarrone: Thomas Cannon; Shepherd Boy: Bevin Hill. Arizona Opera Chorus and Phoenix Boys Choir, Chorus Master: Henri Venanzi; Arizona Opera Orchestra, Conductor: Joel Revzen; Director: Bernard Uzan; Sets: Donald Oenslager; Costumes: AT Jones and Sons; Lighting Design: Michael Baumgarten. Arizona Opera January 26, 2013.

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):