Tosca, Birmingham Hippodrome - review
How very apt that on the night of International Women’s Day, the horror of man’s abuse on womankind should play such a pivotal role in this most dramatic of tragic operas.
Never mind the political intrigue, passion and jealousy of the story, our heroine kills herself because she murdered the man who was forcing his attentions on her. Puccini’s tale, adapted from a play, was set more than 200 years ago, but the same wielding of lust and power has reverberated down the centuries and is particularly relevant in this Harvey Weinstein- blotted era.
So apt, but a coincidence, or surely an opera with more than one female voice - barring the chorus - would have been chosen. No maid or sister for our Floria Tosca, played rapturously by Claire Rutter, just the love of one man and the lust of another.
Tosca is the lover of painter Mario Cavaradossi (Hector Sandoval) whose political leanings involves him in hiding escaped prisoner Cesare Angelotti (Daniel Grice). The chief of police Baron Scarpia - and could there be a more villainous villain than the deadly handsome and brandy-toned Mark S Doss - decides to combine letchory with barbarity by bedding the woman and killing her man.
It’s blood and thunder stuff, and boldly staged by the Welsh National Opera.
Voices are magnificent, the chorus spot-on and the contribution of the school children impressive.
The orchestra, led by conductor Carlo Rizzi, is marvellously strident and thoroughly deserving of the audience’s hearty applause, while the thoughtful sets and wonderful costumes add to the vision.
Claire Rutter’s aria in Act Two soars and hits at the heart-strings while Mark S Doss’s song, which tells of his callous and brutal attitude to the fairer sex is beautifully delivered if chilling. Sandoval’s single sonorous line showing delight at a military defeat for Scarpio nearly steals the show, but not quite. It is the whole ensemble which must share the spoils of this tragic, romantic spectacle.