Strong voiced Zachary Owen opened the performance as the escaping political prisoner Angelotti. Director Fairloth made sure we understood the fine points of her story as the escapee found the key to his family’s side altar and the woman’s clothes that his sister had left for him to use as a disguise. Inadvertently, the painter, Cavaradossi, let the police know that Angelotti’s sister, the Marquesa has been in the church because he painted her portrait there. As Cavaradossi, Marco Cammarota, sang is his picture aria with gorgeous high notes that should point his way to many more renditions of this role. Scarpia, the Chief of Police, used the same picture to rouse Tosca’s jealousy and to make her his “buon falco” or hunting bird.
Costume Designers Andrew Marlay and Heidi Ganser dressed Cavaradossi in simple working clothes for the first act, while Tosca had a gown of soft fabric that said little about her prestigious place in society. The conservative-minded Sacristan, too, was clad in neutral colors as he dialogued with the left-leaning painter. Visually, The red-clad choir singers showed the importance of the Church in that era as their presence contrasted with that of black-garbed Scarpia for the first act’s final Te Deum.
As Scarpia, Aleksey Bogdanov sang with resounding tones that carried through the Te Deum’s heavy orchestration. Conductor Stephen White included a canon sound as part of the orchestral bass and it served to contrast religious ritual with governmental action. The finale of Act One played out with exquisite taste as Scarpia’s henchmen, Sciarrone and Spoletta, underscored his evil.
Act two, Scarpia’s dinner hour, shows us more of his preference for violent conquests. He tortured Tosca’s lover so that she could hear his screams, after which he made her betrayal known. Cammarota’s “Victoria” gave us some fine examples of his sturdy and beauteous high notes. The Tosca, Marcy Stonikas, clad in jewels and blood-red velvet, pulled at the audience’s heart strings when she sang her aria asking God why he rewards her prayers and sacrifices with torture.
All three principals were outstanding in this act. Stonikas, Cammarota, and Bogdanov are three young singers from whom a great deal more can be expected in the future. Having bargained for her lover’s life, Tosca picked up a sharp knife and held it within the folds of her gown so she could to stab her oppressor when he tried to embrace her. Director Faircloth ended the act in the traditional manner. Tosca placed candles on either side of and a crucifix on top of the body.
Soprano Katrina Galka sang sweetly as the Shepherd Boy addressing the cool Roman night. Cammarota’s “… lucevan le stelle” made us all think about the value of life when only a few hours remain. Stonikas showed her dramatic ability, her resilience, and her easy high notes before declaring her intent to meet Scarpia before God.
Conductor Steven White drew dramatic, veristic playing from the Arizona Opera Orchestra. His interpretation gave the singers the melodic accompaniment as well as the space needed to perform at their best. The opera was both a sing fest for fine young voices and a dramatic thriller. It was the best Tosca I had seen in quite a few years.
Cast and production information:
Conductor, Stephen White; Director, Tara Faircloth; Set Designer, Ercole Somani; Costume Designers, Andrew Marlay and Heidi Ganser; Fight Director Andrea Robertson; Lighting Designer, Gregory Allen Hirsch; Chorus Master, Henri Venanzi; Floria Tosca, Marcy Stonikas; Mario Cavardossi, Marco Cammarota; Baron Scarpia, Aleksey Bogdanov; Angelotti and Jailer, Zachary Owen; Sacristan, Ricardo Lugo; Spoletta, Anthony Ciaramitaro; Sciarrone, Jarett Porter; Shepherd, Katrina Galka; Roberti, Gil Berry.
Alternate Cast: Tosca, Kara Shay Thompson; Cavardossi, Rafael Davila; Scarpia, Gordon Hawkins.
image_description=Marcy Stonikas [Photo courtesy of Fletcher Artist Management]
product_title=TOSCA: A Dramatic Sing-Fest
product_by=A review by Maria Nockin
product_id=Above: Marcy Stonikas [Photo courtesy of Fletcher Artist Management]