Paul Curran’s production of Tosca, seen in 2008 and 2012, opened at the COC yesterday afternoon. It didn’t feel like a routine revival production of a warhorse. In fact it felt much fresher and focussed than last time around. Perhaps Mr. Curran, who is again directing, found some new insights or, more likely, the chemistry between the principals is better this time. The result is a very satisfactory show.
Curran’s production takes few liberties with Giacosa’s exceptionally tightly crafted libretto and, unless and until someone does for Tosca what Stefan Herheim did for La Bohème, why would he? The sets and costumes are pleasing on the eye, the direction of the characters is keenly observed and, at least in Act 1, some rather good stage pictures are produced.
The three principals are well matched and work well together. Adrianne Pieczonka’s Tosca is beautifully sung and finds a vulnerability in the character that I couldn’t see in her 2012 version. Markus Marquardt makes quite a menacing and unpleasant Scarpia while managing not to slip over the line into pantomime villainry (which didn’t stop the pantomime booing during his curtain call. Really Earthlings…). Marcelo Puente looks and moves more like a genuine romantic lead than most Cavaradossis. He also sings with feeling and accuracy though, if one were to be super niggly, one might wish for a more ringing, Italianate sound.
The supporting roles were all fine with Donato di Stefano as a pleasantly bumbling Sacristan. The stand out here though in his brief appearance was Musa Ngqungwana’s Angelotti. His anguished yet heroically sung brief appearance makes me want to see much more of him. The chorus, and the considerable contingent from CCOC made the most of their Act 1 opportunity but, curiously for an opening, didn’t get a curtain call. The orchestra sounded as good as ever, especially given the full blooded reading of the score demanded by conductor Keri-Lyn Wilson.
All in all, a very solid revival. It’s quite a credit to the COC that they can put something as solid as this together amid the brouhaha surrounding Louis Riel. There are eleven more performances at the Four Seasons Centre between now and May 20th; six by this cast and five, starting May 7, with alternates in the three principal roles. I’ll be seeing them on May 11.
Photo credits: Michael Cooper (1,3,4); Gary Beechey (2)