I don’t know why however there’s one thing bloodthirsty in me that enjoys the lead as much as, and subsequent, homicide, suicide, execution, succumbing to sickness, of the principle character(s) that performs such a big half within the operatic universe. Consequently, whereas I very a lot get pleasure from divertissements like La Traviata and La Boheme (sadly with just one deceased in both) operas like Dialogues of the Carmelites (a whole convent despatched to the guillotine or Götterdämmerung (your complete world incinerated) ship me into absolute raptures.
With nary a surviving principal character on the final act curtain you’ll be able to solely think about my estimation of Giacomo Puccini’s blood-soaked melodrama Tosca.
So it was with one thing akin to an undertaker’s glee that I approached the Music Middle on Saturday evening for the revival of LA Opera’s 2013 manufacturing now in its third mounting.
Bunny Christie’s set and costumes had been a lot as I remembered them. A big cement field is configured as a church in a state of renovation within the opening, a cluttered warehouse of stolen artwork within the second act for Baron Scarpia’s lair, and a jail within the third. The costumes, with one very notable exception, had been usually plain and whereas they had been theatrical most are far too unassuming to be known as operatic.
Director John Caird, he of Nicholas Nickleby and Les Miserables fame, returned as soon as once more to information a brand new set of singers by an overly-fussy staging that too usually finds his ideas with not sufficient bodily area to hold out the duties at hand given the quantity of music they’ve been allotted to do it in.
Actually a sense of rising claustrophobia can be welcome in any staging of this opera however with a cramped church, after which an Act II packed to the very rafters with crates and statuary, there’s valuable little area left for the precise machinations of the plot to play out. Atmospheric sure; sensible not a lot.
It doesn’t seem to be there’s sufficient area at instances for the heightened emotionalism and gesture which Tosca is completely begging for. The upside is that it does hold the singers ahead and simply initiatives their voices into the infamously parched acoustic of the auditorium of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
There was drama backstage as properly when Ukranian conductor Oksana Lyniv sadly needed to withdraw from her a lot anticipated U.S. debut late within the sport. Very fortunately Louis Lohraseb, a latest alumnus of our younger artists program, was pressed into service for his mainstage debut. Already with a listing of spectacular credit for somebody so younger it was obvious from his entrance into the pit that he’s additionally a favourite with the orchestra and he proved instantly why.
The LA Opera Orchestra usually erupted and sparkled below his sure-handed steering. He made deft work of highlighting Puccini’s kaleidoscopic orchestrations and confirmed a eager understanding of the works musical structure in addition to offering wonderful help for his singers. A only a few moments of missed stage to pit synchronization apart it was a powerful achievement.
Our forged of singers proved no much less adept. Lending the right air of totalitarian henchmen to the proceedings had been each the Sciarrone of Zachary James and Anthony Leon as a cautious and watchful Spoleta. Regardless of his commanding top Mr. James managed to skulk magnificently within the background of his scenes transferring ahead for further intimidation as wanted. Mr. Leon’s sharp tenor was particularly welcome in his cynical asides through the Act II interrogation.
I loved Ryan McKinny from his imposing Rely Almaviva right here within the 2015 revival of Le nozze di Figaro the place he was adroit at enjoying menace with a smile. His first Scarpia proved a little bit paradoxical despite the truth that he has all the proper gear for the function. The noble Baron is a frightening process for any bass-baritone.
But he appeared at instances to be singing a tad over his weight class despite having a protracted listing of Wagnerian credit on his CV. Sporting an artfully graying beard with mustache he definitely had the aristocratic, if not the authoritarian, air down. I’m sure he’ll discover extra to the function because the run progresses however for now it’s extra a robust define than a nuanced characterization.
I first reviewed Michael Fabiano on these pages when he appeared in my hometown of Santa Monica on the Broad Stage in live performance in 2015. My estimation of his artwork has solely elevated since. But this was my first alternative to see him reside in an entire opera having missed his LA Opera debut because the Duke of Mantua three years later.
From the primary his Mario Cavaradossi laid declare to the stage with a superbly nuanced, “Recondita armonia.” Act I incorporates a three-story scaffolding stage proper and his positioning on it, properly above the stage, solely helped bolster his already muscular tenor into the theater bringing the night’s first extended ovation. He was an enthralling and attentive companion through the duet along with his lover Tosca that adopted. In the meantime they gamboled up and down the aforementioned scaffold, singing all of the whereas.
The second act discovered him making some significantly harrowing offstage noises throughout his interrogation/torture after which unleashing a nuclear-grade A-sharp “Vittoria!” on the information of Napoleon’s victory over the Austrians. The final Act confirmed him to greatest benefit with a deeply transferring “E luceven le stelle” that gave him alternative to brandish a shocking mezza voce on the ascending phrases.
He was gently chiding and candy within the duet that adopted and there was a surprisingly boyish simplicity in his responses to Tosca’s prompting for the deliberate execution. Contemplating the common tenor had two speeds; earnest or tragic, it was an uncommonly nuanced portrayal.
But the posters all around the Music Middle heralded the a lot anticipated return of soprano Angel Blue to our stage. Actually having simply returned from the Richard Tucker Gala at Carnegie Corridor final weekend, having received their highest award, then enjoying opera’s diva ultimo to a hometown viewers would take a look at anybody’s nerve. If she had any they definitely weren’t in proof Saturday evening.
Her Floria Tosca was nothing lower than a triumph and the form of singing you solely dream about listening to on this function. It’s a soft-grained instrument with a luxurious and simple prime that has a scrumptious core sound. Her consideration to element was well-nigh flawless with all of the little nuances and beauty notes Puccini wrote into the function. Most particularly through the two love duets she was significantly fetching.
The amplitude of her lyric-spinto was breathtaking and its pleasures had been many. She took the “Vissi d’arte” within the second act at such a stately tempo I began to worry for her breath till she thundered out an excellent penultimate phrase adopted by some beautiful shading down for the final line. Gooseflesh.
Her characterization was easy and honest with no pretension or guile in proof. She dealt with the numerous parlando passages within the function, a veritable soprano’s litmus take a look at, with creativeness and refinement. Balancing on that magic tightrope of melodrama with nothing overdone or underdone.
A part of this tough staging additionally entails a extra difficult than standard finale for our soprano which she introduced off with aplomb. She additionally will get to put on one of many all-time nice Tosca robes designed in pearl grey and liberally tricked out with so many sparkles you’d suppose it got here with batteries.
Musically it was an exciting night and to listen to Tosca so opulently sung is a good deal with that shouldn’t be missed. Five performances stay by the ten December and even I could return for a second go to.
Photographs: Cory Weaver / LA Opera