J attended the May 19th 2023 performance of Giacomo Puccini‘s Tosca at the Canadian Opera Company (COC.) The production is directed by Paul Curran, with sets and costumes by Kevin Knight. The COC Orchestra was led by Giuliano Carella, making his COC debut.
The performance starred Sinéad Campbell-Wallace (Tosca), Stefano La Colla (Mario Cavaradossi), Roland Wood (Scarpia), Michael Colvin (Spoletta), Donato Di Stefano (Sacristan), Giles Tomkins (Sciarrone), Christian Pursell (Cesare Angelotti), Alex Halliday (Jailer), and Zoya Avramova (Shepherd Boy.)
The production is a very beautiful, traditional style production. Act I takes place inside the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, Act II at Scarpia’s apartment inside the Palazzo Farnese, and Act III at the Castel Sant’Angelo. The means beautiful sets and the abilty to concentrate on the performers and the music.
Ms. Campbell-Wallace was stunning as Tosca. She owned the roll. Her Vissi d’arte aria brought the house down with a sustained applause. The aria was moving and heartbreaking. She pulls your strings – her Tosca, despite being jealous, is truly in love with Mario and you could tell it. I want to see and her move from her.
Mr. Wood’s Scarpia was ruthless and agressive. His Scarpia is the textbook for a tyrant. In Act I, he has the Sacrostan killed and dragged off and at the end of the Act, he walks off past the priest conducting the Te Deum. Even God doesn’t scare Scarpia. His voice is even into the bass range, but his voice’s deepness makes for an even more moving, and scary, Scarpia. You just have to love to hate his Scarpia
Mr. La Colla was a bit of a hit and miss as Cavaradossi. He acted the role very well, and was vocally well in Acts II and III, with a very moving E lucevan le stelle. However, he was vocally disappointing in Act I. I found he was holding back, not trying for some of the higher notes and was straining with some of his notes. An off night to start out with, but he came back in Acts II and III with a great performance.
One note that I really thought worked well in the production was the performance of the Jailor, Alex Halliday. The role is very minor and easy to forget about, so a performer could easily ‘call in’ the performance. Not in this production. Here, the Jailer actually cares. When Mario gives him a ring in exchange for a pen and paper to write Tosca, the Jailer gives back the ring, despite resistance from Mario from doing so. Then, the opera ends with the Jailer standing over Mario’s dead body, crossing himself. Mr. Haliday’s performance makes sure that you are aware that the Jailer has an importance to the performance.
Maestro Carella was exellent in charge of the COC Orchestra. The music was sutle when it had to be with a tempi that was spot on throughout. The music kept moving from start to end without ever feeling like it was dragging or holding the singers or the stage action back. I hope we here more from him in Toronto in the future!
All-in-all, a wonderful performance. A wonderful evening of beautiful opera.
Tosca continues for three more performances between now and May 27th, 2023 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. If you haven’t already seen this production, get a ticket if you can.