Tosca | Lyric Opera House | Classical | Chicago Reader

Tosca Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Sept. 26, 6 p.m., Wed., Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m., Sat., Oct. 3, 7:30 p.m., Wed., Oct. 7, 2 p.m., Sat., Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m. and Tue., Oct. 13, 7:30 p.m. 2009

Lyric Opera opens its new season with Puccini’s Tosca, a popular hit since its premiere in 1900 and a canonical part of the repertoire for nearly as long. Based on a play by Victorien Sardou, the story (spoilers ahead) is set in Rome during the French revolutionary wars. Floria Tosca, a passionate, strong-willed, and jealous singer, is in love with a painter, Mario Cavaradossi, who aids an escaped political prisoner and in short order becomes one himself. Baron Scarpia, the corrupt Roman chief of police, strikes a deal with Tosca—one tryst with him and her lover will go free, he says. She relents, but when he approaches her, she stabs him; the mock execution Scarpia promised for Cavaradossi turns out to be a real one, and Tosca leaps from a parapet to her death to escape the same fate. Soprano Deborah Voigt captures Tosca’s mercurial moods convincingly, and she’s spellbinding in the dramatic second act. But her huge voice—sought after for productions of Wagner and Strauss because it can soar above those massive orchestras—seems too heavy here, particularly in the second-act aria “Vissi d’arte,” a meditative prayer that begins with high, floating pianissimos. Tenor Vladimir Galouzine, who plays Cavaradossi, is likewise a fine actor with a dark, monumental voice; its forcefulness makes it less than ideal for tender passages, but his delivery of the character’s final aria, “E lucevan le stelle,” has a wonderful combination of sweetness and passion. Bass-baritone James Morris is excellent as Baron Scarpia, though he’s somewhat dwarfed vocally by the other leads. This production also features members of the outstanding Lyric Opera Chorus and Chicago Children’s Choir. Sir Andrew Davis conducts. Tosca returns in January with a new cast and crew that includes soprano Violeta Urmana (Tosca), tenor Marco Berti (Cavaradossi), and conductor Stephen Lord, all making their Lyric debuts. —Barbara Yaross

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