Like drama? You’ll love ‘Tosca’ by Opera Australia
If there’s one thing to know about Tosca, is that she never knew what she had coming to her. She’s part femme fatale, part manipulator whose conniving and playing of the waif all come crashing down on her and you’re left feeling overwhelmingly final at the crescendo of Opera Australia‘s production of this season’s Tosca by Puccini.
We all know that ‘jealous lover’ archetype, whose self-angled lens on themselves casts dispersions upon their lover and everyone else around them, only to find in the end that it all kind of backfires and they’re left worse off than they were when they started; enter Ainhoa Arteta’s Tosca character, a beautifully executed incarnation of the protagonist, dripping in seduction, whose alignments toward her lover and pursuer vary to extremes and culminate in a dramatic unfolding of heartbreak like so many of Giacomo Puccini’s works.
Teodor Ilancai, the Romanian tenor adopting the role of Cavaradossi the painter, glides through the performance with his unwavering love for Tosca, highlighting her character’s playful flirting as something more of a testament to her love, realised all too late.
All overshadowed by Opera Australia’s set designer Michael Scott-Mitchell’s cold and illuminating, cavernous imagining of 1940s Nazi-occupied Rome that so boldly highlights the tenuous balance with which the welfare of Tosca and her lover (and their safety) hang, fellow cast Angelotti (Richard Anderson), Sacristian (Luke Gabbedy) and Sciarrone (Adrian Tamburini), really emblazon the overshadowing danger of their roles amongst the Nazi party.
Transporting the characters to fascist headquarters in the second Act, Tosca’s most pressing trial occurs. Amongst the piece ‘Ha più forte sapore’ – an interpretation of an homage to rape – the climax of Tosca’s trial in life comes to fruition and is so emotionally outplayed by Arteta, you almost feel the blade enter the body of her victim as she commits a foul murder under the guide of the kiss of Tosca; a title she hisses out with such malice.
Act III truly drives home the reality we all recognise and that we see on the news: the everyday banality of evil. Sexual favours to protect the welfare of a lover, the false promises, the inner torment; all come to nothing more than a whimsical passing aside as the climax of the story of Tosca is reached in what is a stunning joint effort by the set designer and lighting designer Nick Schlieper.
The modern interpretation of the drama of the story of Tosca truly comes to life, emboldened by the sinister red, black and white of the Nazi swastika and the dramatic cracking of the rifles as they extinguish two lives in mere minutes.
Tosca by Opera Australia is on until 31 March 2017 at the Sydney Opera House. To see more or buy tickets, click here.
Hear the winning aria by Tosca below…
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