Vienna State Opera
|Images: Wiener Staatsoper / Michael Pöhn|
Floria Tosca – Martina SerafinMario Cavaradossi – Roberto Alagna
Baron Scarpia – Michael Volle
Cesare Angelotti – Ryan Speedo Green
Sacristan – Alfred Šramek
Spoletta – Benedikt Kobel
Sciarrone – Hans Peter Kammerer
Gaoler – Il Hong
Shepherd Boy – Bernhard Sengstschmid
Margarethe Wallmann (director)Nicola Benois (revival director)
Vienna State Opera Chorus (chorus master: Martin Schebesta)
Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera
Dan Ettinger (conductor)
Tosca is pretty much indestructible, although that does not necessarily prevent opera houses from doing their worst to prove me wrong. Where are the Bieitos, the Konwitschnys, the Herheims, the Katy Mitchells, indeed anyone who might think Puccini and indeed his audiences merit something other than condescension? The Berlin State Opera recently signalled the prospect of something a little more interesting with a new production, conducted by Daniel Barenboim (his first Puccini!), directed by Alvis Hermanis, a director with a mixed record, at best, but at least not renowned for pandering to ‘subscription’ tastes. Whether the staging succeeded, I do not know; given Hermanis’s recent pronouncements, I am unlikely ever to find out. Alas, Dominique Meyer decided, rather than to present a new production at the Vienna State Opera, to reproduce the disintegrating sets and costumes of its existing – I am tempted to say, ‘prehistoric’ – production.
There was better news from the singers – at least until the end (on which more shortly). Martina Serafin is not possessed of the most refulgent of voices, but she did a good deal with what she had, and for the most part proved attentive towards words as well as music. ‘Vissi d’arte’ was, alas, plagued by poor intonation. Roberto Alagna suffered similarly when he first came on stage, but his performance improved dramatically – in more than one sense – thereafter. Indeed, as always, he threw his all into what he was doing, vocally and otherwise. His big aria was beautifully sung, without a hint of playing to the gallery. (Alas, the gallery still responded, holding up what action the production permitted.) Michael Volle seemed strangely, or perhaps not so strangely, out of sorts. He is a great artist, but this is perhaps not his role, or at least this is not his production. His Italian was such that even I found it too Teutonic, and, although he offered greater malice and menace in the second act, the first-act Scarpia seemed oddly avuncular. Ryan Speedo Green was an energetic, dark-voiced Angelotti; I should like to hear more from him.