We saw Tosca at the L.A. Opera today. It was excellent — a much more satisfying experience than seeing Robert Wilson’s Parsifal recently. The music of Tosca is not as sublime as that of Parsifal, but it is beautiful nevertheless. The sets were visually pleasing, and resembled what they were supposed to resemble. Unlike the company’s recent performance of Parsifal, today’s performance featured singers who actually acted out what they were supposed to be doing. When Tosca stabbed Scarpia (“This is Tosca’s kiss!”), she actually seemed to stab him, rather than simply standing there with her hands in a funny position, singing about stabbing him.
Salvatore Licitra was in excellent voice as Cavaradossi. (He also looks a little like Todd Nichols, the lead guitarist for Toad the Wet Sprocket. That’s an observation you won’t see anywhere else.) Both Violeta Urmana and Sam Ramey were ill with the flu, but Urmana (singing the title role) performed nevertheless, and you’d have never known that she was ill. Her rendition of “Vissa d’arte” brought the house down.
We weren’t so fortunate with Ramey. He didn’t sing today. I was initially quite depressed about that, as I have never seen Ramey live before, and his performance as Scarpia was going to be a season highlight for me.
Luckily, Ramey’s replacement, Peter Lindskoog, was a perfectly fine Scarpia. He acted with a commanding presence, and did an excellent job portraying the false piety of the evil and lustful baron. His voice does not quite have the strength I expected to hear from Ramey’s voice, but Lindskoog carried it off well.
We had fabulous seats to boot — probably the best we’ll ever have at the opera. We were second row near the center, about 10 feet from conductor Kent Nagano. The proximity to the singers and orchestra certainly heightened the intensity of the experience for me, and Mrs. P. enjoyed it as well.
Today was a nice respite from Robert Wilson productions like Parsifal. Our next opera will be another Wilson production: Madama Butterfly in January. It will be more abstract staging and singers standing around like statues. Sigh. We already saw this production, a couple of years ago. It will be worth going again for the music, but sheesh! — they need to stop using that guy to stage their operas.
More productions like today’s Tosca, please.
P.S. And afterwards, we went to Dafydd ab Hugh’s for “Thanksmas.” Dafydd and Sachi prepared excellent food, and a good time was had by all. Dafydd has a full review of that here.