There are many erudite ways to determine whether an opera is good, but the most obvious may be how engrossing it is and how quickly the time fleets by. Puccini’s legendary three-act Tosca is not only one of the greats, but also one of the most performed operas in the world. The combination of high-voltage drama and evocative melodies has motivated generations to see it again and again the world over.
It’s a passionate tale about how one man’s loyalty to his fugitive friend jeopardizes his own life and compels his lover to devise a sanguinary and doomed plan. Tenor Russell Thomas as the loyal friend, Mario Cavaradossi conveys both tenderness and power and his performance of “E Lucevan le Stelle” (And the Stars Shone) in the third act was goose-pimply stirring. The resplendent soprano, Sondra Radvanovsky as his passionate lover, the titular Tosca, is a marvel of voice and character, claiming her place in the pantheon of legendary divas. And baritone Ambrogio Maestri as the villain Scarpia, is both menacing and desperate in his obsession for Tosca, bringing great dimension to his role. The set was moody and captivating, transporting the packed audience from the Dorothy Chandler to the warn-torn Rome in 1800.
There was not a wasted moment, the music moving the narrative along with razor sharp precision, and when the curtain fell almost three hours later, the audience was on its feet for a thunderous standing ovation and lingering for more.
— Ghalib Dhalla.
Tosca at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion through May 13th. Approximate running time: two hours, 50 minutes, including two intermissions. https://www.laopera.org/