Tosca Returns, Triumphant
Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center
10/23/2015 - & October 25, 31, November 3, 6, 14, 2015
Giacomo Puccini: Tosca
Dmitri Belosselskiy (Angelotti), Kyle Albertson (Sacristan), Alexey Dolgov (Mario Cavaradossi), Liudmyla Monastyrska (Floria Tosca), Andrzej Dobber (Baron Scarpia), David Cangelosi (Spoletta), Ben Edquist (Sciarrone), Jacqueline Hickman (A Young Shepherd), Saïd Henry Pressley (Jailer)
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, Chorus and Children's Chorus, Patrick Summers (conductor)
John Caird (director), Bunny Christie (set and costume designer), Duane Schuler (lighting designer)
L. Monastyrska (© Lynn Lane)
HGO's blood-soaked Tosca makes a triumphant return, headlined by a thrilling trio of leads that pack a potent punch. Triumphantly debuted in the 2009-10 season, John Caird's detailed and intoxicating rendering of Puccini's thriller is even better the second time around.
Alexey Dolgov returns as Cavardossi and has found much nuance in the role since 2010. Part of this is due to his repartee with Liudmyla Monastyrska in her American debut as Tosca. Her powerful singing helped rescue a visually over-the-top Aida two season ago, and she shines even more brightly as Puccini's diva. The dramatic range of her acting is as magnificent as her singing, and she encapsulates jealous lover through vicious defender fearlessly. If Dolgov's "E lucevan le stelle" is impressive because of its subtlety and control, Monastyrska's "Vissi d'arte" is an encapsulation of the opera's entire trajectory, a thrilling vocal journey through love, revelry, and despair.
A. Dobber (© Lynn Lane )
In addition to Monastyrska's triumph, this production scores handily over the 2010 run with the addition of a fully realized Scarpia from Andrzej Dobber. His first entry is hair-raising, but he creates a more complex vocal range for his character than is typically the case. He is a perfect foil to Dolgov's Cavaradossi and his expressive repertoire in his scenes with Monastyrska–from eerily obsessed to criminally insane–exemplify just how maniacal a character Puccini created.
Other roles are slightly uneven: Dmitri Belosselskiy is great as Angelotti, but Kyle Albertson's Sacristan is difficult to hear over the orchestra, even when they're playing softly. The HGO orchestra and chorus are fantastic, the playing from the pit superlative from solo cello to deliciously brassy tutti.
In sum, this is a can't-miss production and a brilliant opening to the HGO season.
Marcus Karl Maroney