Review | WA Opera breathes new life into the classic tragedy of Tosca

Tosca | His Majesty’s Theatre | Until Apr 8 | ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

It’s important to preface this review with the fact that this was my first opera.

I have always been a little sceptical; worried that I may not understand the narrative, or that the classic format would be lost on someone raised on Japanese cartoons and YouTube – but WA Opera’s production of Puccini’s Tosca dispelled my concerns when the hour before interval swept by in what felt like mere minutes.

Set in early 20th Century Rome, Tosca follows the typical format of the tragedy – love, loss, intrigue, betrayal, jealousy and death intertwine throughout the iconic tale. What has clearly cemented Tosca‘s place as a classic, however, is how easily it connects the elements to create something greater.

The performance opens with artist Cavaradossi (Paul O’Neill) celebrating his latest work, an ode to the Madonna and a mysterious new woman who has been visiting the church.

Floria Tosca (Antoinette Halloran), the titular character, steals the show from the moments she enters the stage, announcing her jealousy with the perfect blend of humour and drama that made my first opera so enthralling to behold.

Tosca’s energy is matched by the evil Baron Scarpia, played by the iconic Teddy Tahu Rhodes. Scarpia’s beautifully dark baritone dominate the theatre, evoking the perfect soundscape for the on-stage villain.

Besides the stellar talent of the cast, the sheer size of the set creates a drama of its own, transporting audiences to the grandeur of the early 1900’s with its glaring Catholic iconography.

Tosca tells a tale that has been told a thousand times, but Puccini’s legendary words combined with the talents of WA Opera tell that tale just right. A beautiful tragedy that made for my perfect introduction to the opera, and that will surely sate the tastes of a seasoned fan.

Leigh Andrew Hill

WA Opera’s Tosca will be at His Majesty’s Theatre on April 1, 4, 6 & 8. Tickets and more information available from WAOpera.asn.au

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