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

The Chalk Circle in Lyon

Not the 14th century Chinese play nor its 1832 French translation, but a 1931 operatic re-creation by Alexander Zemlinsky of a 1925 German translation by “Klabund,” staged just now in Lyon by French stage director Richard Brunel.

Jonathan Miller’s “Così” strikes gold again

When did “concept” become a dirty word? In the world of opera, the rot set in innocently, gradually.

Tucson Desert Song Festival Presents Artists from the Met and Arizona Opera

The Tucson Desert Song Festival consists of three weekends of vocal music in orchestral, chamber, choral, and solo formats along with related lectures and master classes.

Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle at the Barbican

Two great operas come from the year 1911 - Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier and Bela Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle. Both are masterpieces, but they are very different kinds of operas and experienced quite asymmetric performance histories.

Puccini’s Tosca at the Royal Opera House

Now on its ninth revival, Jonathan Kent’s classic Tosca for Covent Garden is a study in art, beauty and passion but also darkness, power and empire. Part of the production’s lasting greatness, and contemporary value, is that it looks inwards towards the malignancy of a great empire (in this case a Napoleonic one), whilst looking outward towards a city-nation in terminal decline (Rome).

ROH Return to the Roundhouse

Opera transcends time and place. An anonymous letter, printed with the libretto of Monteverdi’s Le nozze d’Enea con Lavinia and written two years before his death, assures the reader that Monteverdi’s music will continue to affect and entrance future generations:

London Schools Symphony Orchestra celebrates Bernstein and Holst anniversaries

One recent survey suggested that in 1981, the average age of a classical concertgoer was 36, whereas now it is 60-plus. So, how pleasing it was to see the Barbican Centre foyers, cafes and the Hall itself crowded with young people, as members of the London Schools Symphony Orchestra prepared to perform with soprano Louise Alder and conductor Sir Richard Armstrong, in a well-balanced programme that culminated with an ‘anniversary’ performance of Holst’s The Planets.

Salome at the Royal Opera House

In De Profundis, his long epistle to ‘Dear Bosie’, Oscar Wilde speaks literally ‘from the depths’, incarcerated in his prison cell in Reading Gaol. As he challenges the young lover who has betrayed him and excoriates Society for its wrong and unjust laws, Wilde also subjects his own aesthetic ethos to some hard questioning, re-evaluating a life lived in avowal of the amorality of luxury and beauty.

In the Beginning ... Time Unwrapped at Kings Place

Epic, innovative and bold, Haydn’s The Creation epitomises the grandeur and spirit of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment.

The Pearl Fishers at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its recent production of Georges Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles Lyric Opera of Chicago assembled an ideal cast of performers who blend well into an imaginative and colorful production.

New Cinderella SRO in San Jose

Alma Deutscher’s Cinderella is most remarkable for one reason and one reason alone: It was composed by a 12-year old girl.

La Cenerentola in Lyon

Like Stendhal when he first saw Rossini’s Cenerentola in Trieste in 1823, I was left stone cold by Rossini’s Cendrillon last night in Lyon. Stendhal complained that in Trieste nothing had been left to the imagination. As well, in Lyon nothing, absolutely nothing was left to the imagination.

Messiah, who?: The Academy of Ancient Music bring old and new voices together

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a Messiah. And, at the Barbican Hall, the Academy of Ancient Music reminded us why … while never letting us settle into complacency.

The Golden Cockerel Bedazzles in Amsterdam

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s fairy tale The Golden Cockerel was this holiday season’s ZaterdagMatinee operatic treat at the Concertgebouw. There was real magic to this concert performance, chiefly thanks to Vasily Petrenko’s dazzling conducting and the enchanting soprano Venera Gimadieva.

Mahler Das Lied von der Erde, London - Rattle, O'Neill, Gerhaher

By pairing Mahler Das Lied von der Erde (Simon O'Neill, Christian Gerhaher) with Strauss Metamorphosen, Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra were making a truly powerful statement. The Barbican performance last night was no ordinary concert. This performance was extraordinary because it carried a message.

David McVicar's Rigoletto returns to the ROH

This was a rather disconcerting performance of David McVicar’s 2001 production of Rigoletto. Not only because of the portentous murkiness with which Paule Constable’s lighting shrouds designer Michael Vale’s ramshackle scaffolding; nor, the fact that stage and pit frequently seemed to be tugging in different directions. But also, because some of the cast seemed rather out of sorts.

Verdi Otello, Bergen - Stuart Skelton, Latonia Moore, Lester Lynch

Verdi Otello livestream from Norway with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edward Garner with a superb cast, led by Stuart Skelton, Latonia Moore, and Lester Lynch and a good cast, with four choirs, the Bergen Philharmonic Chorus, the Edvard Grieg Kor, Collegiûm Mûsicûm Kor, the Bergen pikekor and Bergen guttekor (Children’s Choruses) with chorus master Håkon Matti Skrede. The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1765, just a few years after the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra : Scandinavian musical culture has very strong roots, and is thriving still. Tucked away in the far north, Bergen may be a hidden treasure, but, as this performance proved, it's world class.

Temple Winter Festival: the Gesualdo Six

‘Gaudete, gaudete!’ - Rejoice, rejoice! - was certainly the underlying spirit of this lunchtime concert at Temple Church, part of the 5th Temple Winter Festival. Whether it was vigorous joy or peaceful contemplation, the Gesualdo Six communicate a reassuring and affirmative celebration of Christ’s birth in a concert which fused medieval and modern concerns, illuminating surprising affinities.

Mark Padmore and Mitsuko Uchida at the Wigmore Hall

The journey is always the same, and never the same. As Ian Bostridge remarks, at the end of his prize-winning book Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession, when the wanderer asks Der Leiermann, “Will you play your hurdy-gurdy to my songs?”, in the final song of Winterreise, the ‘crazy but logical procedure would be to go right back to the beginning of the whole cycle and start all over again’.

Turandot in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera wrapped up its 95th fall opera season just now with a bang up Turandot. It has been a season of hopeful hints that this venerable company may regain some of its former luster.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Photo by Ken Howard
06 May 2017

Tosca: Stark Drama at the Chandler Pavilion

On Thursday evening April 27, 2017, Los Angeles Opera presented a revival of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. In 2013, director John Caird had given Angelinos a production that made Tosca a full-blooded, intense drama as well as a most popular aria-studded opera. His Floria was a dove among hawks.

Tosca: Stark Drama at the Chandler Pavilion

A review by Maria Nockin

Photos by Ken Howard

 

Her lover, Cavaradossi, was an artist who preferred an out of favor political party and he helped hide an escaped political prisoner that Baron Scarpia, the chief of police, wanted to keep incarcerated. Scarpia was a womanizer who would have enjoyed a night with Tosca, after which he would have destroyed her as used goods. Caird did not pull any punches and he made his world every bit as brutal as that of twenty-first century television shows.

Scenic designer Bunny Christie showed us the appropriately dim Church of Sant’ Andrea della Valle with a three story high scaffolding that held Cavaradossi’s enormous madonna-in-progress. In Act II, Scarpia’s apartment in the Palazzo Farnese was filled with boxed and partially unpacked works of art, evoking the realization that the police chief stole art wherever he found it. For her last act, Christie designed an execution room atop the Castel Sant’Angelo that focused the sound of the voices.

With movie-star good looks and a large, silvery dramatic voice, Sondra Radvanovsky was the perfect embodiment of Puccini’s early nineteenth century opera singer. She colored her tones to fit each circumstance and emphasized the intensity of her emotions with the passionate phrases of “Vissi d’arte” (“I have lived for art”). Her character grew from the naïve ingénue in Act I to a reluctant killer in Act II. In Act III, she hoped for life with Cavaradossi in a new country. Having discovered Scarpia’s deception, she brazenly proclaimed her intent to meet him before God and jumped into eternity.

tosc_4969.png

Puccini asks his tenor to sing the aria “Recondita armonia” (“Obscure harmony”) very soon after his first appearance on stage, and fully warmed up, Russell Thomas sang it with the golden sounds of a solid, well-honed tenor voice. I would like to hear more of him soon. Ambrogio Maestri was physically imposing and his manner made Scarpia a sadistic bully. The possessor of a powerful baritone voice, he sang with slightly rough bronze tones that underscored his character's unrefinment. Only when he offered Tosca holy water in the first act was he the slightest bit polite.

Scarpia’s aides, Brian Michael Moore as Spoletta and Daniel Armstrong as Sciarrone, followed his lead dramatically and sang with dark tones. Nicholas Brownlee, as Cesare Angelotti, however, had a much brighter sound and interpreted his character as though he might once again hold high office. Veteran bass-baritone Philip Cokorinos was an amusing Sacristan who gave just the right comedic touch to this tragic opera.

Conductor James Conlon brought out the drama of Puccini’s music in what is said to be his seventieth rendition of the opera. Thursday night’s show was only his second performance of the work in LA, however, and he showed this audience his distinctive, carefully crafted, richly detailed interpretation. Grant Gershon conducted the adult chorus and Anne Tomlinson directed the children’s group who led the jubilation of the Act I "Te Deum." Tosca is an opera that needs to be performed with significant individual interpretations and this was a fine representation of Puccini’s masterwork.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Conductor, James Conlon; Director, John Caird; Scenery and Costume Designer, Bunny Christie; Lighting Designer, Duane Schuler; Chorus Director, Grant Gershon; Director Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Anne Tomlinson; Prompter, Miah Im; Cesare Angelotti, Nicholas Brownlee; Sacristan, Philip Cokorinos; Mario Cavaradossi, Russell Thomas; Floria Tosca, Sondra Radvanovsky; Baron Vitellio Scarpia, Ambrogio Maestri; Spoletta, Brian Michael Moore; Sciarrone, Daniel Armstrong; Jailer, Gabriel Vamvulescu.

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):