Saturday, May 03, 2008


I was fascinated by this production of Tosca in Sacramento and spent the third act obsessing over the lighting. In the program we are told that the action takes place close to midsummer on June 17, 1800. If it is dawn at the Castel Sant'Angelo and I am facing St. Peters which could be seen in the background, the sun will rise behind me and somewhat to the left, and not from the left front as seen here. Never mind. Non e importante.

The director created business for the minor characters that I've never seen before. The flunky who carries out Scarpia's orders appears at the execution, telegraphing that Tosca will be betrayed. The Marchessa Attavanti becomes a character in the drama. We see her planting the key under the statue, we see her slapped by Scarpia at the beginning of Act II, and we see her executed atop the Castel Sant'Angelo where she sings the shepherd music just before being strangled. This last bit isn't exactly obvious, but there is no credit for the shepherd role in the program, and there is one for the Marchessa Attavanti, someone usually only talked about. She was sung by Rebecca Plack.

The director, Mark Streshinsky, is the husband of our Tosca, Marie Plette. They live in the Bay Area. The program is full of information telling us that she prefers the role of Butterfly. Nevertheless, she is a fine full-voiced, appropriately melodramatic Tosca. I personally admire Tosca much more than Butterfly. Tosca loves, she believes, she acts, and fate brings her down.

Have I ever seen a better Scarpia, a more completely loathsome Scarpia than the Scarpia of Rod Nelman? His edgy, unpretty baritone is just right for this slimy portrayal. The audience enthusiastically booed him in the bows.

Dinyar Vania was our Mario. I believed him as a romantic hero and admired his beautiful voice. He should work on his legato. His voice slips out of the phrase often enough to be annoying. If he stopped doing this, he would be fabulous. He fell marvelously, as though he had taken Tosca's advice to heart.

Tosca jumped off the parapet downstage, something I've never seen.

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