Metro, May 14, 2008
Warwick Thompson
Puccini: Tosca, London, ROH, 12 May 2008
"Camp sees everything in quotation marks", wrote Susan Sontag. "It's not a lamp but a "lamp"; not a woman but a "woman". Sontag might have added another example if she'd seen this enjoyable revival. Not Tosca but "Tosca".

There's something utterly glorious in hearing Puccini's music express passions at the utmost pitch of extremity, while the beleagured Tosca (Micaela Carosi) and the evil Baron Scarpia (Paolo Gavanelli) act like drag queens in a silent movie parody. Their voices are great, but their acting has more armwaving than a semaphore convention. It creates real emotion and fake emotion at the same time, and I can't think of a better definition of camp than that.

Antonio Pappano, a singers' conductor if ever there was one, joins in the fun, too. He sensitively keeps the orchestra down to allow all the voices to perform without strain - but then he lets rip at the orchestral climaxes in big bold, beefy splurges. Love it.

When superstar tenor Jonas Kaufmann comes on stage, however, the quotation marks fly out the window. With his spine-tingling voice and broodingly intense stage presence, Kaufmann is the real deal. It was no surprise when he got a spontaneous burst of clapping after his first aria and he received by far the loudest applause at the final curtain. That's not "opera". It's opera.

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