Opera review: Tosca
Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD
Royal Opera House – map
Performance date: 27 May 2008
Rating: ***** (out of 5)
Review by: Alexa Williamson
One of the great librettists of the European opera, Giacomo Puccini, like Guisseppe Verdi, is best known for his passionate – and many times – tragic and romantic stories. Tosca is indeed one of his masterpieces alongside Madama Butterfly and La Boheme.
Telling the story of a jealous opera singer who would do anything for her lover, ROH have created a wonderfully grandiose and colourful production.
Floria Tosca is a celebrated singer, who is in love with ecclesiastical painter Mario Cavaradossi. He in turn is involved in aiding and abetting the escape of convicted politico Cesare Angelotti. And, chief of police, Baron Scarpia is in love with Tosca and after Angelotti. What follows is a riveting three hours in which Scarpia courts and also attempts to blackmail Tosca (by capturing Cavaradossi and Angelotti), murder and Tosca’s heightened reactions of love and nemesis.
The ROH’s performance is large, highly detailed and extremely beautiful, giving off an aura of elegance and wonderful drama. Whether it’s a soul-penetrating aria between lovers, the heartbreaking moment in which Tosca unexpectedly loses Cavaradossi, or when she dives off the ramparts at the very end. Each scene is infused with a breath-taking and painfully touching energy.
A fantastic piece in its entirety, I recommend it as a first opera for those who want to be introduced to the art.