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A Tosca as a Farewell

Grand Théâtre
06/08/2001 -  and 10, 13, 15, 18, 20, 23 June 2001
Giacomo Puccini: Tosca
A production of the Grand Théâtre and la Monnaie de Bruxelles
Nelly Miricioiu (Tosca), Mikhail Dawidoff (Cavaradossi), Lado Ataneli (Scarpia), Christophe Fel (Angelotti).
Fabio Luisi (conductor), Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Choir of the Grand Théâtre, Guillaume Tourniaire (choir Master), Uwe Eric Laufenberg (producer).

The scene is dark, policemen wearing uniforms of some 20th century communist dictatorship arrive to set the first act of Tosca. Then we are invited into the church where Cavaradossi is painting a Madonna. The characters of the painter's world (Tosca, Angelotti…) are dressed in end-of-ninteeth-century costumes. Scarpia and his gendarmes are dressed again in 20th century attire. This mixture is not very lucky. Though it represents some sort of difference between the two worlds: of love and of oppression. One colourful the other gray.

The Te Deum scene is full of baroque grandeur as the old cardinal, clad in red, carrying the Host and a procession of choirboys enter the basilica under the storming canons and bells. The wall in Scarpia's office, at the Farnese Palace in Rome, becomes translucent to reveal the torture room where poor Cavaradossi is attached in the same position as the crucified Saint Andrew (in the X position) on the painting of the high altar in the basilica of the preceding scene. The idea of this parallel has a great symbolic and scenic effect. The suffering saint, imitating Christ (imago Christi), and Cavaradossi tortured in the same position, and this scene is located in the former capital of the empire that invented crucifixion. It is an interesting parallel. But it can become ambiguous when it is done in the town of Saint Peter showing that injustice can happen anywhere. Finally the big metal angle of the Castel Sant'Angelo is impressive but surrounded by a concrete frame. Mixing modern with authentic is the recurrent effect of this production.

Fabio Luisi (Conductor) presents a wonderfully sounding subtle and truly puccinian music, with a well-prepared orchestra. It's such a pity, that it is at the beginning of his last season as chief conductor of the Orchestre de la Suisse romande that Maesrto Luisi, usually conducting in the Wiener Staatsoper, does his première in officio at the Grand Théâtre. Considering the cast, we have a light and intense Tosca interpreted by Nelly Miricioiu. A quite good Cavaradossi, and a remarkable Scarpia, in his act as in his voice.
The performance ended with a standing ovation for Renée Auphan, former singer herself, finishing her six-year mandate as director of the Grand Théàtre. She was forced on stage by the artists and bowed modestly. She said farewell to the Geneva public with Tosca.

Zoltan Becsi



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