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Classical and Jazz: Review - Puccini’s Tosca at ROH

Tosca (Martina Serafin) and Scarpia (Juha Uusitalo)

Published: 9 June, 2011
by SEBASTIAN TAYLOR

The Royal Opera House's fine revival of Jonathan Kent’s 2006 production of Puccini's Tosca gains its strength from the excellent performance of Austrian soprano Martina Serafin singing the title role of Floria Tosca. 

All too often, Toscas come across as submissive, almost compliant, when faced with the rapacious demands of Baron Scarpia because their voices are too weak compared to singers taking the role of the police chief.

Serafin, however, is a well-seasoned singer in opera houses and concert halls over the world. Up against powerful Finnish singer Juha Uusitalo as bullying Scarpia, she more than holds her own vocally thereby demonstrating the strength of personality needed to kill him.

The killing is well done. As Scarpia prowls about, encircling his prey, she takes the letter-knife from the table. Usually, the killing is done with one stab. In this production, it’s done with three stabs which seem to go well with Serafin’s portrayal of Tosca as a woman in command of her life.

Her love for Mario Cavaradossi is not surprising either as Sicilian tenor Marcello Giordani has such a heart-melting voice. Their duets are so charming they could almost be the song of young love.

Under Antonio Pappano's baton, the orchestra expresses every delicate nuance in Puccini’s score that embellish his musical themes, driving the love drama.

This cast is singing at seven more performances until June 30. A new cast on July 14 and July 17 will include Angela Gheorghiu as Tosca, Jonas Kaufman as Cavaradossi and Bryn Terfel as Scarpia. Not surprisingly, these performances sold out months ago.

www.roh.org.uk 

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