Monday, November 5, 2012

REVIEW: Puccini’s Tosca (Macao)

Macao Cultural Centre Grand Theatre, Saturday November 3

This production made me realized that as long as the designs (set, costume and lighting) are not offensive and the singers are not totally wooden, good music from singers and the orchestra alone can satisfy me. The Macao International Music Festival has come a long way. Back in the mid 1990’s where I started going to the festival, the opera was held in a gymnasium! These days, I never stop praising the simplicity and fine acoustics of the Macao Cultural Centre Grand Theatre.

For the 26th Macao International Music Festival, the organizer brought in a production by the Puccini Festival Foundation – Torre del Lago. This production was (in my understanding) originally conceived by Antonio Mastromattei. Director Antonio Canessa re-conceptualized and utilized Mastromattei’s set design for this Macao production that was basically traditional, safe and almost boring. From the set came the rest of the production that was unexciting and harmlessly routine.

The production was enjoyable purely because of the high caliber of its lead singers and the orchestra. The consistent and secured playing from the Macao Orchestra led by Lu Jia was a pleasure to listen to. Though in some few passages, the orchestra tended to overpower the singers; the effect was nowhere jarring and in some way, the flow was musically and dramatically suitable.

Csilla Boross’ Tosca was a full-blooded explosive diva. Not only was she dramatically effective, she sang with great warmth and subtlety. She alone is worth the ticket! Roberto Aronica’s Cavaradossi was also a vocal delight. His was characterized with robust resonance and solid high register. Giovanni Meoni was a menacing Scarpia with his commanding baritone voice. Though his entry in the first act may be a tad weak, his power and threat was not to be doubted in the second act. While this approach suited perfectly to this traditional production; I, personally would prefer a more subtle and sardonic Scarpia (think Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada!)

Opera in 3 Acts by Giacomo Puccini
1, 3, 4/11 (Thursday, Saturday, Sunday) 7:30pm
Macao Cultural Centre Grand Auditorium
Tickets: MOP 450, 350, 250, 150

Composer: Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
Libretto: Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa

Production: Puccini Festival Foundation - Torre del Lago (Italy) and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao S.A.R. Government

Conductor: Lü Jia
Stage Director: Riccardo Canessa
Assistant Director: Luca Ramacciotti
Costume Designer: Fondazione Cerratelli
Lighting Designer: Nino Napoletano

Chorusmaster: Petras Bingelis
Kaunas State Choir
Macao Orchestra

Characters and Cast:
Floria Tosca, a celebrated singer: Csilla Boross, Soprano
Mario Cavaradossi, painter: Roberto Aronica, Tenor
Baron Scarpia, chief of police: Giovanni Meoni, Baritone
Cesare Angelotti, political fugitive: Manrico Signorini, Bass
Sagrestano: Angelo Nardinocchi, Bass
Spoletta, a police agent: Mario Bolognesi, Tenor
Sciarrone, a gendarme: Lei Siu Hong, Bass
A jailer: Xu Qi, Bass
A shepherd boy: Lai Wai Ieng, Treble

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