A week after introducing a fascinating new work to its audiences, the Dallas Opera turned on Friday night to one of the triedest-and-truest of them all: Puccini’s Tosca. It will alternate through Sunday with the new one, Jake Heggie’s Great Scott. Performances are in the Winspear Opera House.
This Tosca has a lot going for it, beyond its beloved music and the dramatic story it tells.
The “lot” includes a strong cast that is consistent from top to bottom, stage direction that enhances the story without distorting it, a powerful visual element, and praiseworthy performances by the orchestra and chorus.
Soprano Emily Magee came close to dominating Friday’s performance in the role of Tosca. Her vocal strength and beauty and her instinct for drama were a potent combination. Her role’s most famous number, the aria Vissi d’arte, became an unusually emotional experience.
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Fortunately, she had strong backing from the two other principal cast members, tenor Giancarlo Monsalve (Cavaradossi) and bass Raymond Aceto (Scarpia).
There was security in the shorter roles, too. Those taking them were Ryan Kuster (Angelotti), Dale Travis (the sacristan), William Ferguson (Spoletta), Wes Mason (Sciarrone), Campbell S. Collins III (the shepherd boy) and Christopher Harrison (the jailer).
By the way, the casting in this Tosca is one of the legacies of Jonathan Pell, who retired as artistic director of the Dallas Opera last year, though he still retains a part-time connection as artistic adviser. Getting a powerful cast together is no easy task in this day of busy schedules and international competition for stellar singers.
On the orchestral and choral side, conductor Emmanuel Villaume led a performance that was both subtle and powerful (with assistance from chorus master Alexander Rom).
Getting a powerful cast together is no easy task in this day of busy schedules and international competition for stellar singers.
Ellen Douglas Schlaefer’s effective staging was along traditional lines, and Ulisse Santicchi’s familiar sets and costumes (they’ve been around awhile) were striking — the Act 1 division between the sacred and profane, with the chorus and clergy above and Scarpia growling below, was especially effective.
Strangely enough, although Tosca is one of the top operas in popularity with the public (No. 5, I believe), there were some empty seats in the Winspear on Friday night, though the audience was pretty good.
‘Tosca’ will alternate with ‘Great Scott’ through Sunday.
Maybe the fact that the opera was being simulcast live (and free) in Klyde Warren Park a couple of hundred feet away had something to do with it.
▪ 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday, Nov. 20; 2 p.m. Nov. 22
▪ Winspear Opera House, Dallas
▪ 214-443-1000; http://dallasopera.org