Welsh National Opera promises a ‘fast-paced operatic thriller' that ‘puts you on the edge of your seat and keeps you there'. This is a bold statement to make and the production currently on tour finds it hard to live up to the claim.
After a staid opening act and an overlong interval there is the danger that the show will fail to thrill or even to get started. It is more than twenty years since the excellent director Michael Blakemore first staged this production and it is now time parts of it are re-worked.
Ashley Martin-Davis has created some suitably grand and forbidding sets of silver, grey and black which add considerably a sense of doom and drama, missing elsewhere, to this most dramatic of operas.
Mary Elizabeth Williams as Tosca comes across as playful rather than jealous in her first scene but she brings some real passion and power to the second act. She delivers a plaintive ‘Vissi d'arte' before really coming into her own as she gathers her strength to commit her murderous deed.
Claudio Otelli's Scarpia is far too pale to have real impact. There is not enough evil about him but he plays the seduction scene well.
Gwyn Hughes Jones as Cavaradossi gives the most consistent performance acting with strength and passion and with a fine singing voice.
Michael Clifton-Thompson brings some grim humour to the nasty and cringing Spoletta and there are moments of lightness in the performance of William Robert Allenby as the Sacristan.
The Chorus is not much seen but does provide some stirring singing in the background.
It is good to see that a traditional opera can attract a young crowd but sadly most were in the rear stalls where it is impossible to see the surtitles.
This Tosca could be faster and more thrilling with a lot more attack from the start but you do get some glorious singing and some splendid tunes from Puccini which are some compensation.
- Richard Woodward