Review: WNO - Tosca @ WMC
OK, so you know an aria from this? Not enough! You’re missing out. Blazing with dramatic music, the Orchestra propels you towards tragedy. Chorus? Magnificence in Act 1, distant sadness in Act 2. You’d better see it. Go on, jump... Peter Harrap, Chorus & Orchestra Director
There is nothing quite like Tosca. As an opera it is razor-sharp in length, drama and is musically captivating. Puccini wrote nothing else like this. It’s considered Maria Callas' best role, Pavarotti a mesmerising Cavaradossi and has had audiences collapsing to the floor in anticipation for over a century.
Having some rest-bite from the Tudor operas, we were given a revival of Tosca. It's true that I did review this earlier this year, but that was at Saint David’s Hall and the Ellen Kent production (head to the link for the synopsis). For this WNO staging, which I have seen once before as well, it’s a case of it being an oldie, but a goodie. Traditional and always inspiring.
The staging impressive, the story gripping. Mary Elizabeth Williams as Tosca was certainly the prima donna we would expect from the character. An electrifying grip on the role. We all cared for her. The ecstatic applause for her at the curtain, with some standing, made for a great end to an evening. The amount of times the cast went up-and-down the stage to bow made for a fun time, since her dress was so long she could barley walk in it. Her smile, her laugh, was infectious.
Cavaradossi was our own Gwyn Hughes Jones. He gave a reasonable portrayal and kept the momentum going. The villain, Scarpia was presented by Claudio Otelli. With mock booing at the end, it’s hard to find a more horrible man in opera. Otelli made it his own, his lust for Tosca, his cunning and devilish plans. There is not a single ounce of positivity in this character. It’s a horrid and delicious role to play and to see before your very eyes.
The chorus and orchestra are on truly top form, like never before. There's little doubt that a new production of Tosca would bring back audiences old and new. But there really is no need, since this is such a paramount production.
Do try and see this. No excuses. Especially if you have never been to an opera before - it’s a great starting point and a mesmerising evening.