Arts Review – Tosca

Revival Director Jonathan Cocker (Original Director Anthony Besch), Theatre Royal, 18th October- 26th October 2019

Tosca is a dramatic and heart-wrenching opera, if performed well. The Scottish Opera’s rendition of this brilliant Puccini piece brought the drama alive. All of the pieces fit together perfectly to ensure your eyes and ears were glued to what was enfolding on stage.

The stage was awe-inspiring in each of its three forms, changing to match the mood and setting for each of the acts. Although the stage was relatively narrow, the height of the space was used effectively not only to make the stage seem larger, but also to demonstrate the complex hierarchies at play throughout the performance. What stood out most was the adept use of light and shadow: it was used to realistically portray the changing times of day, but also to heighten the gloom and foreshadow the disaster to come. 

Most remarkable was, however, without a doubt the music itself. In the first few minutes of the final act, there were barely any lyrics, and the orchestra in the pit sustained the mood and built the tension in preparation for the inevitably tragedy. The choir was effectively put to use, not only in highlighting the isolation of the two lovers amongst a crowd of people, but also to remind the listeners that the drama is enfolding within and shaped by a politically fraught world. In particular the performances of Natalya Romaniw as Floria Tosca, Roland Wood as Baron Scarpia, and Gwyn Hughes Jones as Mario Cavaradossi were outstanding. Indeed, what I enjoyed the most was when their voices engaged with each other, either singing in harmony or in a duet, as they combined beautifully. 

The convincing production of Tosca by the Scottish Opera left my heart beating fast and my hands sweaty, eager for the tragedy to be over and yet dismayed that the performance had come to an end. 

[Kirsty Campbell – she/her –@KirstyCampbell3

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