Monday, March 21, 2016

Tosca is Quintessential Opera

Pavorotti would have loved this production

Photo courtesy of the MN Opera.
In fact, I'm pretty sure that Dominick Chenes, who plays Mario Cavaradossi, stole his playbook straight from under Pavorotti's nose. His powerhouse tenor rips through the role and shatters every glass in the house, without even sounding breathless.
Photo courtesy of the MN Opera.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Tosca, like many operas, is a tragic love story. The difference here is that although Tosca (the lover of painter Mario Cavaradossi) believes he is seeing another woman, she is mistaken; he is helping a former friend to escape from prison. For revenge, Tosca turns Cavaradossi in, only to find that he is innocent of cheating on her.
Photo courtesy of the MN Opera.
The source of all the confusion is the villain Scarpia, who abuses his position of power to try to ensnare Tosca to be his own lover. Tosca's passion for Cavaradossi outweighs her disgust with Scarpia, and she agrees to spend a night with him if she will free her lover. However, Scarpia backs out of his promise after their foiled night together and kills Cavaradossi after all.
Photo courtesy of the MN Opera.
As always, Puccini provides an entertaining opera, and  it is hard not to feel involved in Tosca and Cavaradossi's drama. This is often thanks to Chenes, but Alexandra LoBianco provides quite the foil as Tosca herself. LoBianco is a worldwide primadonna and shows herself as such in her duets with Chenes. Mark Walters clearly relishes his role as the villain Scarpia, and swaggers around in nefarious opulence throughout the show.
Photo courtesy of the MN Opera.
As always, the MN Opera production team has proven they are some of the most talented around with a knockout set, particularly the golden features of a church in the first act. It is absolutely stunning, particularly when surrounded by the ensemble swathed in period appropriate clothing from the Catholic Church. There's nothing like Italian decadence to feast the eyes on, and Tosca has that in spades.
There always seems to be a fear with comprehension of opera that inhibits people from attending. This really bums me out, because at their core, most operas are no different from your average romantic comedy or soap opera; AKA, you've seen this before and have nothing to fear. The MN Opera is determined to help combat your opera phobias, and they have provided an amazing set of resources on their website and in the program that includes historical facts, biographies, plot synopsis, YouTube clips, Pinterest boards and more (click here to go to their resource section for Tosca). Even if you're not attending the show, it's a fabulous compendium of information; it's worth a perusal.
Photo courtesy of the MN Opera.
This production runs for one more week and Puccini is always fun to watch; make sure you get your tickets now by clicking on this link.