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A pulsating performance from soprano Natalya Romaniw is at the beating heart of Scottish Opera's revived production of Giacomo Puccini'a Tosca at Eden Court


By Margaret Chrystall


REVIEW

Scottish Opera: Tosca

Eden Court, Inverness

*****

THERE is no brick out of place in the very faithful memory one has of Anthony Besch’s revived original 1980 Scottish Opera production of Tosca – but the beating heart of it is all Tosca herself, thanks to a pulsating performance from Natalya Romaniw.

Natalya Romaniw as Tosca pictured at the end of Act Two. Picture: James Glossop
Natalya Romaniw as Tosca pictured at the end of Act Two. Picture: James Glossop

The story of love and revenge toys with our emotions, lush dreams of an almost technicolour description of a country home-sweet-home will never come to pass, as most of us know, making it all the more poignant for that. But between the lush tenor of Gwyn Hughes Jones as Tosca’s lover Mario Cavaradossi and Romaniw’s passionate presence, the dream needs to feel real if the pain of their tragedy is going to do its worst.

Natalya Romaniw as Tosca and Roland Wood as Scarpia. Picture: James Glossop
Natalya Romaniw as Tosca and Roland Wood as Scarpia. Picture: James Glossop

And the third part of the opera’s crucial triangle comes in Scarpia the police chief played with demonic relish by Roland Wood (and booed at the end like a panto villain). His larger-than-life presence powered Act Two at the palazzo where we see the heartbreaking breakdown of Tosca’s strength and resolve when faced with her lover’s torture.

Conductor Stuart Stratford at times seemed to be drawing the colour and the contrasts in the music out of his musicians like white rabbits out of a black hat.

A great first opera to see, Tosca wears its heart on its sleeve.

It is hard not to be mesmerised when Tosca – in the powerful, resonant voice of Natalya Romaniw – delivers the credo of her life in aria Vissa d’arte. Or to resist the swell and passion of Te Deum in Act One. And, as ever, the final moments of this opera come swiftly, suddenly and shockingly, as Tosca wings downwards.

Natalya Romaniw as Tosca and Gwyn Hughes Jones as Cavaradossi. Picture: James Glossop
Natalya Romaniw as Tosca and Gwyn Hughes Jones as Cavaradossi. Picture: James Glossop

“Never have I loved life so much,” sings Cavaradossi, as he faces death – both faked and real, as it turns out.

This production, with its solid churches and battlements, symphony of bells and flickering firelight, is a solid reassuring version of real life where tragedy happens to even the most vibrant individuals. Castel Sant’Angelo seems a grand place to die. MC

You can still see Scottish Opera's Tosca at Eden Court, Inverness, on Thursday, November 7 and Saturday, November 9, both performances at 7.15pm. Sinead Campbell-Wallace will sing the role of Floria Tosca on Thursday. A pre-performance talk will be given about the opera on Saturday at 6pm, when a touch tour will also be held. The unwrapped performance – giving an insight into the production – will be on Friday, November 8 at 6pm (it now costs £5).



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