Touring – reviewed at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
Guest reviewer: Victoria Hayward
Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre is a well-presented 90-year-old theatre with excellent acoustics and architectural surroundings. This provides the perfect setting for Puccini’s Tosca. The piece is brought to life by the phenomenal Welsh National Opera, bringing a diverse audience along with it.
WNO’s version is divided into three acts with two intervals. The curtain opens and conveys the dimly lit church of Sant’Andrea Della Valle. This is where we meet the first of our two lead gentlemen: Mario Cavaradossi, played by the truly wonderful tenor Hector Sandoval, who is more than qualified after singing the title role of Don Carlos twice in Moscow.
In comes Floria Tosca, played by leading lady Claire Rutter who plays the role in a bouncy vibrant and refreshing way. The actress is able to switch from lover to murderer easily and with conviction.
To Mario’s Tenor, Baron Scarpia’s baritone matches unequivocally. Mark S Doss’ portrayal of the venomous villain owns the production. With his masculinity overpowering the stage in each set, he deliveres a strong yet vulnerable character.
The magnificent orchestra is expertly conducted by Timothy Burke, the playing is beautifully put together and the timing impeccable.
One criticism would be that during the first act the orchestra out-volumed the singers on stage, although, this seemed to have been corrected by act 2.
The glorious sets throughout really took the audience on a journey seen through Puccini’s eyes. Here we must show gratitude to the scenery and stage design produced by Cardiff Theatrical Services.
If you, like me, have never been to the opera, you should not feel intimidated. The whole production was surtitled (not subtitled, as I have learnt) so you are able to see where the story is leading. The screens are above the stage and are placed discreetly so you are not drawn away from the performance.
Tosca is a great introduction to opera. It has an incredible score, an excellent cast and an air tight story. Filled with love, murder and tragedy it’s a whirlwind production sure to keep you on the edge of your seats. The audience were gripped from the very beginning.
I will leave you with this quote:
‘With a thousand kisses I shall seal your eyes,and call you by a thousand names of love.