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

Cave: a new opera by Tansy Davies and Nick Drake

Opera seems to travel far from the opera house these days. Alongside numerous productions in community spaces and pub theatres, in the last few years I’ve enjoyed productions staged on the shingle shore of Aldeburgh beach, at the bottom of the shaft of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Thames Tunnel at Rotherhithe, and in a renovated warehouse in Shoreditch on the roof of which perch four ‘creative studios’ in the form of recycled Jubilee line train carriages and shipping containers.

Götterdämmerung in San Francisco

The truly tragic moments of this long history rich in humanity behind us we embark on the sordid tale of the Lord of the Gibichungs’s marriage to Brünnhilde and the cowardly murder of Siegfried, to arrive at some sort of conclusion where Brünnhilde sacrifices herself to somehow empower women. Or something.

Siegfried in San Francisco

We discover the child of incestuous love, we ponder a god’s confusion, we anticipate an awakening. Most of all we marvel at genius of the composer and admire the canny story telling of the Zambello production.

Boris Godunov in San Francisco

Yes, just when you thought Wotan was the only big guy in town San Francisco Symphony (just across a small street from San Francisco Opera), offered three staged performances of the Mussorgsky masterpiece Boris Godunov in direct competition with San Francisco Opera’s three Ring des Nibelungen cycles.

Garsington Opera transfers Falstaff from Elizabeth pomp to Edwardian pompousness

Bruno Ravella’s new production of Verdi's Falstaff for Garsington Opera eschews Elizabethan pomp in favour of Edwardian pompousness, and in so doing places incipient, insurgent feminism and the eternal class consciousness of fin de siècle English polite society centre stage.

Grange Park Opera travels to America

The Italian censors forced Giuseppe Verdi and his librettist Antonio Somma to relocate their operatic drama of the murder of the Swedish King Gustav III to Boston, demote the monarch to state governor and rename him Riccardo, and for their production of Un ballo in maschera at Grange Park Opera, director Stephen Medcalf and designer Jamie Vartan have left the ‘ruler’ in his censorial exile.

Puccini’s La bohème at The Royal Opera House

When I reviewed Covent Garden’s Tosca back in January, I came very close to suggesting that we might be entering a period of crisis in casting the great Puccini operas. Fast forward six months, and what a world of difference!

Na’ama Zisser's Mamzer Bastard (world premiere)

Let me begin, like an undergraduate unsure quite what to say at the beginning of an essay: there were many reasons to admire the first performance of Na’ama Zisser’s opera, Mamzer Bastard, a co-commission from the Royal Opera and the Guildhall.

Les Arts Florissants : An English Garden, Barbican London

At the Barbican, London, Les Arts Florissants conducted by Paul Agnew, with soloists of Le Jardin de Voix in "An English Garden" a semi-staged programme of English baroque.

Die Walküre in San Francisco

The hero Siegfried in utero, Siegmund dead, Wotan humiliated, Brünnhilde asleep, San Francisco’s Ring ripped relentlessly into the shredded emotional lives of its gods and mortals. Conductor Donald Runnicles laid bare Richard Wagner’s score in its most heroic and in its most personal revelations, in their intimacy and in their exploding release.

Das Rheingold in San Francisco

Alberich’s ring forged, the gods moved into Valhalla, Loge’s Bic flicked, Wagner’s cumbersome nineteenth century mythology began unfolding last night here in Bayreuth-by-the-Bay.

ENO's Acis and Galatea at Lilian Baylis House

The shepherds and nymphs are at play! It’s end-of-the-year office-party time in Elysium. The bean-bags, balloons and banners - ‘Work Hard, Play Harder’ - invite the weary workers of Mountain Media to let their hair down, and enter the ‘Groves of Delights and Crystal Fountains’.

Lohengrin at the Royal Opera House

Since returning to London in January, I have been heartened by much of what I have seen - and indeed heard - from the Royal Opera.

Stéphane Degout and Simon Lepper

Another wonderful Wigmore song recital: this time from Stéphane Degout – recently shining in George Benjamin's new operatic masterpiece,

An excellent La finta semplice from Classical Opera

‘How beautiful it is to love! But even more beautiful is freedom!’ The opening lines of the libretto of Mozart’s La finta semplice are as contradictory as the unfolding tale is ridiculous. Either that master of comedy, Carlo Goldoni, was having an off-day when he penned the text - which was performed during the Carnival of 1764 in the Teatro Giustiniani di S. Moisè in Venice with music by Salvatore Perillo - or Marco Coltellini, the poeta cesareo who was entertaining the Viennese aristocracy in 1768, took unfortunate liberties with poetry and plot.

Whatever Love Is: The Prince Consort at Wigmore Hall

‘We love singing songs, telling stories …’ profess The Prince Consort on their website, and this carefully curated programme at Wigmore Hall perfectly embodied this passion, as Artistic Director and pianist Alisdair Hogarth was joined by tenor Andrew Staples (the Consort’s Creative Director), Verity Wingate (soprano) and poet Laura Mucha to reflect on ‘whatever love is’.

Bryn Terfel's magnetic Mephisto in Amsterdam

It had been a while since Bryn Terfel sang a complete opera role in Amsterdam. Back in 2002 his larger-than-life Doctor Dulcamara hijacked the stage of what was then De Nederlandse Opera, now Dutch National Opera.

A volcanic Elektra by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic

“There are no gods in heaven!” sings Elektra just before her brother Orest kills their mother. In the Greek plays about the cursed House of Atreus the Olympian gods command the banished Orestes to return home and avenge his father Agamemnon’s murder at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra. He dispatches both her and her lover Aegisthus.

A culinary coupling from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama

What a treat the London Music Conservatoires serve up for opera-goers each season. After the Royal Academy’s Bizet double-bill of Le docteur Miracle and La tragédie de Carmen, and in advance of the Royal College’s forthcoming pairing of Huw Watkins’ new opera, In the Locked Room, based on a short story by Thomas Hardy, and The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama have delivered a culinary coupling of Paul Hindemith’s The Long Christmas Dinner and Sir Lennox Berkeley’s The Dinner Engagement which the Conservatoire last presented for our delectation in November 2006.

Così fan tutte: Opera Holland Park

Absence makes the heart grow fonder; or does it? In Così fan tutte, who knows? Or rather, what could such a question even mean?

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Marcy Stonikas [Photo courtesy of Fletcher Artist Management]
14 Nov 2017

TOSCA: A Dramatic Sing-Fest

On November 12, 2017, Arizona Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s verismo opera, Tosca, in a dramatic production directed by Tara Faircloth. Her production utilized realistic scenery from Seattle Opera and detailed costumes from the New York City Opera. Gregory Allen Hirsch’s lighting made the set look like the church of St. Andrea as some of us may have remembered it from time gone by.

TOSCA: A Dramatic Sing-Fest

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Marcy Stonikas [Photo courtesy of Fletcher Artist Management]

 

Strong voiced Zachary Owen opened the performance as the escaping political prisoner Angelotti. Director Fairloth made sure we understood the fine points of her story as the escapee found the key to his family’s side altar and the woman’s clothes that his sister had left for him to use as a disguise. Inadvertently, the painter, Cavaradossi, let the police know that Angelotti’s sister, the Marquesa has been in the church because he painted her portrait there. As Cavaradossi, Marco Cammarota, sang is his picture aria with gorgeous high notes that should point his way to many more renditions of this role. Scarpia, the Chief of Police, used the same picture to rouse Tosca’s jealousy and to make her his “buon falco” or hunting bird.

Costume Designers Andrew Marlay and Heidi Ganser dressed Cavaradossi in simple working clothes for the first act, while Tosca had a gown of soft fabric that said little about her prestigious place in society. The conservative-minded Sacristan, too, was clad in neutral colors as he dialogued with the left-leaning painter. Visually, The red-clad choir singers showed the importance of the Church in that era as their presence contrasted with that of black-garbed Scarpia for the first act’s final Te Deum.

As Scarpia, Aleksey Bogdanov sang with resounding tones that carried through the Te Deum’s heavy orchestration. Conductor Stephen White included a canon sound as part of the orchestral bass and it served to contrast religious ritual with governmental action. The finale of Act One played out with exquisite taste as Scarpia’s henchmen, Sciarrone and Spoletta, underscored his evil.

Act two, Scarpia’s dinner hour, shows us more of his preference for violent conquests. He tortured Tosca’s lover so that she could hear his screams, after which he made her betrayal known. Cammarota’s “Victoria” gave us some fine examples of his sturdy and beauteous high notes. The Tosca, Marcy Stonikas, clad in jewels and blood-red velvet, pulled at the audience’s heart strings when she sang her aria asking God why he rewards her prayers and sacrifices with torture.

All three principals were outstanding in this act. Stonikas, Cammarota, and Bogdanov are three young singers from whom a great deal more can be expected in the future. Having bargained for her lover’s life, Tosca picked up a sharp knife and held it within the folds of her gown so she could to stab her oppressor when he tried to embrace her. Director Faircloth ended the act in the traditional manner. Tosca placed candles on either side of and a crucifix on top of the body.

Soprano Katrina Galka sang sweetly as the Shepherd Boy addressing the cool Roman night. Cammarota’s “É lucevan le stelle” made us all think about the value of life when only a few hours remain. Stonikas showed her dramatic ability, her resilience, and her easy high notes before declaring her intent to meet Scarpia before God.

Conductor Steven White drew dramatic, veristic playing from the Arizona Opera Orchestra. His interpretation gave the singers the melodic accompaniment as well as the space needed to perform at their best. The opera was both a sing fest for fine young voices and a dramatic thriller. It was the best Tosca I had seen in quite a few years.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Conductor, Stephen White; Director, Tara Faircloth; Set Designer, Ercole Somani; Costume Designers, Andrew Marlay and Heidi Ganser; Fight Director Andrea Robertson; Lighting Designer, Gregory Allen Hirsch; Chorus Master, Henri Venanzi; Floria Tosca, Marcy Stonikas; Mario Cavardossi, Marco Cammarota; Baron Scarpia, Aleksey Bogdanov; Angelotti and Jailer, Zachary Owen; Sacristan, Ricardo Lugo; Spoletta, Anthony Ciaramitaro; Sciarrone, Jarett Porter; Shepherd, Katrina Galka; Roberti, Gil Berry.
Alternate Cast: Tosca, Kara Shay Thompson; Cavardossi, Rafael Davila; Scarpia, Gordon Hawkins.

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):