After a lovely meal at Babur on Friday, Deborah and I sloshed our way to the opera house ready to settle in our seats, all layers and hope. The snow didn't seem to much affect the other two thirds of the audience who chose to brave the elements either. Who knew we were such a hearty crowd?
Seeing Puccini's Tosca would have been an enjoyable enough affair for the music alone although it was less unified and symphonic than I expected. Reflecting on the darkness and urgency of the story, the score did befit the jealousy, violence, and tragedy to come. The story was filled with all those tasty opera staples like torture, murder and suicide and as with any Canadian Opera Company production, the orchestra and chorus were masterful and excellent, a joy to hear.
Tenor Mikhail Agafonov as Cavaradossi elevated the production with his perfect vocal purity and power and a commanding presence. Having seen him in a number of great performances, I remain impressed.
The rest of the cast had strong enough voices but when the music softened enough to really hear baritone Alan Opie as Baron Scarpia at the beginning of Act Two, the effect was entrancing. He managed to make his character though largely unappealing and conniving, somehow appealing and easy to watch.
While in powerful and dramatic voice but lacking a certain warmth, soprano Eszter Sumegi in the title role made the unfortunate choice of exaggerated expressions and overly grand movements. This threatened to trip her up nearly as much as her unwieldy costumes.
Two of the gowns she wore, while lovely to look at, had trains so long they required her to heft them at every turn to avoid prematurely meeting her fate by tripping. I was left distracted by her performance and driven to the odd titter. I'm convinced the cries of Brava! at night's end may have been more for her success at having remained on her feet than her execution of the role.
Next up is From The House Of The Dead, where I would have ended up blogging from had I been forced to do an in person critique of this show to Ms. Sumegi.