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Ellen Kent: Tosca, Theatre Royal Brighton, February 5
With Puccini, it’s drama, drama, drama, said Rosa Ponselle and, she might have added, for Ellen Kent as well. Legendary opera and ballet producer Ellen Kent celebrates 20 years of staging the spectacular, touring with singers and musicians from Chisinau, Moldavia, for a new Tosca and Carmen this spring.
Lucky Brighton got Tosca, performed with all the relish of a Victorian melodrama set in the barbaric splendour of ancient Rome.
Brilliant costumes swished around stone battlements as one opera singer played another one, drama piling on drama as love, hate, rape, murder and revenge were musically interpreted with Puccini’s richly expressive melodic lines, theatrical gifts to a singer, beloved to the listener.
Soprano Maria Tonina sang a powerful and effective Tosca, winning applause for Vissi d’arte. Sorin Lupu’s ringing voice well served Caravadossi who has two of the best tenor arias in 19th-century opera – recondite armonia and E lucevan le stelle.
But this Tosca Oscar goes to Vladimir Dragos for the beautifully sung, blood-curdling menace of his Scarpia, as nasty a piece of work as you could wish to hear. Conductor Nicolae Dohotaru and operatic chorus played and sung as if their lives depended upon it. Everybody else died – dramatically.