Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tosca at the National Concert Hall

Ellen Kent and Amphitheatre dutifully delivered a charismatic production of Tosca, Puccini's second great masterpiece, in the National Concert Hall, Dublin. Elena Dee, Korean soprano recently en vogue as Cio Cio San in Madama Butterfly last season, brings a feminine, loveable Tosca to the stage. Conducted by Nicolae Dohotaru and accompanied by the Chisinau (pronounced 'kisheh now') Philharmonic Orchestra, the production was impressive, energetic and human. I enjoyed the exuberant youth which so delightfully distinguished it from the Tosca I had known – A remastered 1963 recording of Leontyne Price and the Vienna Philharmonic. It was sensual and violent, empathic and technical, tender and cruel.

The costumes were magnificent, especially the black felt jacket of Scarpia with scintillating golden embroidery, the set was pretty, a substantial two levelled Colosseum of sandy hue with retreating shadowy alcoves, the lighting incandescent. There was little to distract from the action. Vladimir Dragos's baritone Scarpia in the first act finale was martial and glorious, and Dee's aria in the second was an emotional success, offering a crisp cadenza, but Irakli Grigali delivered my favourite of the night with Cavaradossi's Farewell in the last. It was the kind of production that rewarded the audience, patting it on the back and telling it thank you. We were all moved and though it was dark and secret, I didn't feel anonymous. Some people say Opera is elitist. So far I feel the opposite. For me it is a private party where nobody is ever invited, and yet everyone is so pleased you came.

DIARIT: 9/10

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