Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

A disappointing, so-so, evening

Tosca

Welsh National Opera , Wales Millennium Centre , February-27-10
Tosca by Welsh National Opera IT is quite an achievement reducing one of the most melodramatic and thrill-filled operas into a so-so evening in the theatre.

There is nothing remarkable in this Michael Blakemore production of one of the best known opera, the jealous diva who throws herself off the battlements when a sham execution of her radical lover turns out to be for real.

It is pretty enough with costumes and sets to please rather than inspire. So all depend on the quality of the music and singing and unfortunately on both scores the show is sadly lacking.

There are three principal roles and so I suppose as one of the trio was good we should count our blessings. This was the splendid Robert Hayward singing a damaged and very real Scarpia, the chief of police in Rome who tricks Tosca into agreeing to have sex with him on the promise of releasing that political activist lover. Hayward sings the role effortlessly and with great interpretation, a Scarpia of real lust and clearly psychologically troubled.

The same cannot be said for either Geraint Dodd singing Cavaradossi – that radical painter – nor the diva Floria Tosca sung by Elisabete Matos. While his E lucevan was an improvement on Recondita Armonia neither did justice to the arias. Portuguese soprano Elisabete Matos confused me as she has a fine pedigree and plenty of bookings but on this night she made up for in gusto what she lacked in beautiful singing.

Neither showed any great comfort with the dramatic requirements of the role making Hayward’s acting even more noteworthy or at least noticeable.

The chorus were on fine form but not enough to salvage the evening and on the strength of Lothar Koenigs’ seemingly fierce conducting of this staple of the Italian repertoire I hope for more with his German.

With two very important summer season productions maybe WNO has taken its eye (and money) off the ball with the so far lacklustre spring.

Wales Millennium Centre March 3, 5 and touring including Llandudno March 10, 12 and Swansea April 16.

Reviewed by: Mike Smith

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