The Stage, 13 May 2008
George Hall
Puccini: Tosca, London, ROH, 12 May 2008
Stephen Barlow is in charge of this revival of Jonathan Kent’s staging of Puccini’s operatic thriller, which was new two years ago.

Micaela Carosi (Floria Tosca) and Jonas Kaufmann (Mario Cavaradossi) in Tosca at the Royal Opera House, London
Photo: Tristram Kenton
Visually, it covers similar territory to the previous long-running Zeffirelli production. Paul Brown’s Act I church set is clogged up with railings and a complex staircase arrangement that get in the way, but his Act III execution ground on the top of Castel Sant’Angelo is strikingly atmospheric. The comings and goings in the complex narrative are handled well, with notable cameo appearances by Enrico Fissore’s Sacristan and Hubert Francis’ Spoletta fitting neatly into the bigger picture.

New to the Royal Opera is Micaela Carosi, whose Tosca is a respectable piece of work, lyrically voiced and ably acted, though she never seizes the audience’s attention as she should.

Paolo Gavanelli’s roughneck Scarpia is at times coarsely delivered and there is none of the subtlety of a sadistic yet sophisticated aristocrat that is the essence of the role.

Both of them are unlucky in coming up against one of today’s leading young tenors at the peak of his form. Jonas Kaufmann not only sings Cavaradossi with distinction and imagination, but gives an acting performance in which every detail of the character and his situation is revealed. This revival will be remembered above all for his participation.

But Antonio Pappano’s conducting is of an equal standard, fluid and authoritative, highlighting the peaks and troughs of Puccini’s emotional roller coaster with perception.

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