ToscaVancouver Opera
Puccini’s Tosca

Dates and Venue 26, 31 October & 1, 2 & 3 November 2013 | Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Reviewer Ed Farolan

What a powerful production this was on opening night! This is so far the best production I've seen of Vancouver Opera. Based on Victorien Sardou's La Tosca, set during the Napoleonic Wars and in a time of political and religious upheaval in Rome, Puccini focuses on three characters in his opera: the passionate but pure-hearted Tosca sung with flamboyance and fervor by Canadian soprano Michele Capalbo; the political idealist Mario performed impeccably by Canadian tenor David Pomeroy; and the depraved Iago-like Scarpia played and sung exquisitely by American baritone Gordon Hawkins.

Puccini’s arias are referred to by music critics as "melodic verismo" and in the last act, Cavaradossi's farewell aria, 'E lucevan le estelle', Pomeroy got a rousing applause. This aria, which is often compared to Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, has been popularized by many famous tenors like Caruso, and more recently, the three tenors, Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras.

In the case of Capalbo's singing, 'Vissi d'arte' in Act II was a winner. In fact, there was what sounded like an Italian audience member shouting "Mama!" even before she finished the song. As for the duets, I was moved by the last duet of Pomeroy and Capalbo, 'Amaro sol por te m'era il morire' , which was immensely impelling.

The procession scene at the end of Act I (see top banner) when the entire cast including the children's chorus were singing 'Te Deum laudamus' was very impressive. Hats off to Musical Director Jonathan Darlington and Director Joseph McClain.

The set was elegant, and in Technical Director Dan Paterson's notes, he points out that his approach is traditional and in fact, the technical elements he uses go back to when Tosca first premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in 1900, such as the use of the raked stage.

Lighting Designer Gerald King also did a great job with the lighting, especially those spotlights when the actors were singing their arias. In the old days, you had those rounded lights that would spot the actors, but in his design, the light falls on the actor like divine rays from up above.

Opening night was a sold-out evening, and for classical music and opera enthusiasts, this is a must see. So get your tickets now before the next performances sell out.

© 2013 Ed Farolan