Sunday, August 4, 2013

TOSCA - Giacomo Puccini


Opera Australia – Sydney Opera House 6th July – 31st August 2013

Performance 16th July 2013 reviewed by Bill Stephens


Alexia Voulgaridou as Tosca
Yonghoon Lee as Cavaradossi
Photo: Prudence Upton
 
John Bell has devised a highly dramatic production of Puccini’s "Tosca" which he has set in Mussolini’s Italy during World War 11. The setting works remarkably well. Michael Scott-Mitchell has designed towering stage settings, particularly for Act 1, and the stunning Greek soprano Alexia Voulgaridou makes an impressive Opera Australia debut in the role of Floria Tosca.

Alexia Voulgaridou as Tosca
Yonghoon Lee as Cavaradossi
Photo: Prudence Upton
Voulgaridou is fascinating in the role, with an idiosyncratic acting style that takes a little getting used to. Skittish, even irritating, in the first act, as indeed Tosca should be, she’s a diva after all, by the time the opera reaches the second act, when she makes her entrance in a beautiful gown designed by Teresa Negroponte, she is spellbinding.  It is enthralling to watch her bargain with Scarpia, a magnificently loathsome John Wegner, when her body language is at odds with what she is actually saying.

Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee, also in his first Opera Australia performances, is convincing as the young, passionate artist Cavaradossi with a clear ringing Italianate tenor sound. David Park is impressive as Angelotti in the first act, where John Bolton, as the Sacristan, is a lesson in how to make the most of a small role.

 As you would expect from John Bell, all the special moments are beautifully staged, and he has provided particularly strong visual endings for each of the three acts, particularly the final act when the audience is left gasping at the sight of Tosca hanging lifeless from the barbed wire parapet. Special icing on the cake was provided by conductor, Christian Badea who ensured his orchestra was in absolute simpatico with the mood of the production.

John Wegner as Baron Scapia
Photo: Prudence Upton
This production runs at the Sydney Opera house until the end of August, but on the 4th August, Sheryl Barker will take over the role of Tosca and Diego Torre will be Cavaradossi, and it will be fascinating to see them both in this production.

Of particular interest to Canberra audiences is the fact that Canberra Symphony Orchestra conductor, Nicholas Milton will take over the conducting of “Tosca” from 4th to 31st August.

John Bolton Wood (centre) as the Sacristan
Photo: Prudence Upton 
(An edited version of this review was broadcast In 'DRESS CIRCLE"  on Artsound FM 92.7 on 21st July 2013)



 

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