Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Tosca from Aix

Conductor Daniele Rustioni
Stage Director Christophe Honoré

Floria Tosca Angel Blue
La Prima Donna Catherine Malfitano
Mario Cavaradossi Joseph Calleja
Il barone Scarpia Alexey Markov
Cesare Angelotti Simon Shibambu
Il sagrestano Leonardo Galeazzi

I was curious about the Tosca from the Aix-en-Provence Festival.  It was advertised to have two Toscas.  Well.  If you have spent enough time in show business, you recognize that this is a rehearsal being held in the home of the great Tosca from the past Catherine Malfitano.  She is most famous for her part in the movie of Tosca with Placido Domingo filmed entirely in Rome in the real places identified in the score.  Her home is filled with memorabilia from this great performance.

At the end of Act I instead of kneeling before the altar, they kneel before the picture of Catherine.  Angel Blue sings Tosca but plays herself.  She is coached by Catherine.  It's chaotic.  Most professionals know how to behave better than this.  Perhaps they're students.  The chorus members mob around the great lady, seriously scaring her.

After the first act, the feed begins to buzz loudly and does not stop until after Act II has started.  Instead of disappearing from view when they are not in the scene, everyone goes off into another part of the apartment. Do we go to the opera to see people being themselves? I think not.

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I have to add a bit more.  Angel sings the big aria in her jeans, and suddenly we find ourselves in an homage to all the great Toscas, beginning with Callas and going on to Caballe, Verrett, Tibaldi, and ending with Catherine herself in her prime.  Today's Catherine confers the ultimate compliment--she gives her the Tosca costume to wear.  It was well done.  It asked for comparisons and we consented.

I didn't mind at all the mixing of reality and performance.  It worked much better than La Sonnambula from the Met.  The Diva is overcome with her real emotions.  I have to say I think Angel could have handled the role quite well on her own.  I ended up liking it very much.

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