Theatre review: Tosca at the English National Opera

Emotions run high at the ENO’s latest revival of Puccini’s classic opera

Once a celebrated Tosca herself, American soprano Catherine Malfitano shows her talent for directing in this revival of her 2010 production of Puccini’s thrilling tale of murder and betrayal.

The strong cast deliver all of the key arias and duets with aplomb. Gwyn Hughes Jones is outstanding as the doomed painter Cavaradossi, vulnerable when declaring his love for Tosca, yet powerful and defiant in the face of torture and betrayal.

In the title role, Claire Rutter is both poignant and passionate, delivering her signature Vissi D’arte aria to rapturous applause.

Anthony Michaels-Moore as Scarpia is slightly muted in the first act but really cranks up the wickedness in the second.


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But where this production really succeeds is its ability to draw you into the emotions and interactions of the main characters. You really believe in the tenderness of the ill-fated lovers and their hatred of the evil Scarpia.

And under the skillful baton of Stephen Lord, the music adds to the sense of drama. On several occasions it was enough to make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

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London’s Tosca fans have been spoilt recently. Jonathan Kent’s production wowed audiences over at the Royal Opera House in the summer and while Malfitano’s revival may not quite attain those dizzy heights, Puccini lovers are unlikely to be disappointed.

* Tosca is showing at the ENO at The Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, WC2, until January 29.

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