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Tosca review at Royal Opera House London

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If there was nervousness on the Royal Opera’s part about the replacement of its Zeffirelli Tosca, fears were allayed when the curtain rose and a complex but traditional view of the Roman church of Sant’Andrea della Valle was revealed in Paul Brown’s set. As the evening went on and his period costumes and Mark Henderson’s imaginative lighting became familiar, things got, if anything, better. Certainly the last act – the execution scene at the fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo – is a clear improvement over its predecessor.

So is Jonathan Kent’s production overall, with its rich, three-dimensional characters and focused narrative. This is a Tosca to savour.

And not only visually. Musically, under the direction of Antonio Pappano, Puccini’s score registers with maximum impact. The second act in particular emerges as one of opera’s greatest achievements.

Bryn Terfel’s Scarpia may be less the aristocrat and more the roughneck but he sing and acts with constant vitality and point. If Angela Gheorghiu’s diva has little vulnerability on display, her way with the character is detailed and persuasive and her singing immaculate. Of the three central roles it is Marcelo Alvarez’s Cavaradossi that makes the most complete impression. He is on top form and one’s heart goes out to him in his final aria.

Impressive support too from Graeme Danby’s Sacristan, Carlo Cigni’s Angelotti and Enrico Facini’s Spoletta. The whole is a triumph and a show that could last as long as its legendary predecessor.

Production Information

Royal Opera House, London, June 13, 16, 20, 23, 26, July 3

Jonathan Kent
Royal Opera
Cast includes
Angela Gheorghiu, Marcelo Alvarez, Bryn Terfel
Running time
3hrs 10mins

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