Love, lust and political unrest set the scene for Opera Lyra’s 30th Season with the beloved Puccini political thriller opera Tosca.
Should You See It?
When painter Mario Cavardossi encounters Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner of the Bonapartiste government, he puts everything on the line to help him elude his captor, Baron Scarpia, chief of secret police. Enter Cavardossi’s jealous yet ever faithful lover Floria Tosca who ends up getting caught up in the middle of the political intrigue.
Tosca relies heavily on themes of loyalty vs. jealousy. Cavardossi’s motives are constantly under question by Tosca, yet her faithfulness never waivers despite her callous possessiveness. These themes drive the opera from start to finish in dramatic fashion.
I hadn’t seen Tosca before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I can say that I was pleasantly surprised. The opera moves at a swift pace that doesn’t slow down. The political backdrop is a nice buffer that makes for a more complex love story.For those who have never been to the opera, Tosca is the perfect opera to start with and I believe that Opera Lyra factored that in when planning their schedule. The acts are short and succinct and don’t belabor exposition. The music is strong and engaging, in fact the orchestral score for Tosca is probably the best part about this opera. The costume designs are second to none. The sets for Tosca were just absolutely stunning. The attention to detail and the enormity of them were just magnificent.
When we get to the actual talent involved I was a little worried. The “Tosca curse” hit this production hard and fast. Valerian Ruminiski, in the role of Sacristan, made some inappropriate public comments and was quickly replaced with Peter Strummer. Strummer ended up having back problems, forcing him to cancel and be replaced with Thomas Hammons. On opening night, James McLennan, who plays Spoletta, had an allergic reaction. With so much going against the show it seemed certain to be a bit of a mess, yet , the show went on and worked spectacularly.
The cast is strong, especially with Todd Thomas as Baron Scarpia, who despite the rapey attitude of his character, definitely stole the show. David Pomeroy, as Mario Cavaradossi, was also captivating any time he stepped onto stage. The moment he walked out to the moment he left he owned every inch of that stage and took full advantage of it. The only issue I had was with Michele Capalbo, who played the titular Floria Tosca. It took the full first act for her to really find her footing. Her cues were great, but her projection and pitch seemed to waver. By the second actm as Tosca’s character evolved from the simpleton jealous lover into the strong and fierce woman she is by the end of the Third Act, she is on the top of her game taking full control over her character and the audience.
Tosca is an amazing time at the opera and is definitely worth checking out. It’s a shame that I have to wait until March 2015 for Opera Lyra’s next show The Marriage of Figaro.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. Was Tosca everything you’d hoped? Were you captured by the political intrigue waiting for what would happen next? Join the discussion in the comments below.
Opera Lyra Ottawa’s Tosca runs until September 13th. More information: onstageottawa.com/shows/tosca