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Subject: Tosca at SFO
From: Kirsten Lee <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Kirsten Lee <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 12 Oct 2018 21:47:42 -0700
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Last night I attended Tosca here in San Francisco. This is my 5th Tosca this
year after the combinations of Yoncheva/Grigolo, Jennifer Rowley/Grigolo,
Netrebko/Yusif, Gheorghiu/Calleja - all excellent duos with some unfortunate
Scarpias mixed in. (Hampson was the worst of all)

 

Only attraction for me was the role/house debut of Carmen Giannattasio whom
I heard as Violetta before. The tenor Brian Jagde despite his big voice,
secure high notes, nailing both big arias and being tall and handsome - I
find him quite boring. He's like a duct tape of SF opera casting department.
We should lend him to the Met to sing Radames. He could probably sing Samson
very well as well.

Scarpia of Scott Hendricks (saw him once 14 years ago here when he sang
Marcello to Anna Netrebko's Musetta) was rather forgettable in Act I
(literally there was where's Waldo moment for me at the end of Act I - I
couldn't see or hear him - O Scarpia, you make me forget you ), too
disturbing in Act II, probably because he was so convincing in his acting
and the staging emphasized the abuse of power in the era of #MeToo. The
voice is too small for the role, there's no authority or evil nobility in
the tone. Barking != Menace.

 

We used to have a STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL Thierry Bosquet production of Tosca
for many years here in San Francisco with trompe l'oeil naked statues in
Farnese, I don't know why it had to be replaced with cheaper looking version
the same locals (Although Sant'Andrea della Valle interior was transformed
to crimson walls of San Giorgio in Ragusa, Sicily) 

Some unnecessary tweaks in staging were added  as well. In Act I there's the
blonde marchesa Attavanti herself looking and acting like Barbarina looking
for her lost pin, here looking for her lost fan during Te Deum. Once Scarpia
produces the fan, he apparently leads her away. 

In the beginning of Act II, Attavanti was just #SheToo'ed by Scarpia in
Farnese. Also in Act 2, Scarpia was eating at his desk, so when he was
writing the safe conduct it was a bit tricky for Tosca to grab the knife.
Here we have Scarpia  who likes to collect armors - so very conveniently he
acquires a shield with several mini swords strategically stuck on for
decoration in the beginning of Act II. So Tosca pull Nothung to kill
Scarpia. In Act III in Castel Sant'Angelo there are kids playing solders and
executions, looked like a scene out of Carmen. (maybe for our star soprano's
namesake.)

 

The program booklet had a profile piece on Giannattasio, "the first Italian
soprano in more than 20 years to sing Violetta at the Met" - saw that
performance and the most memorable was her curtain call where she ran up to
Luisotti and jumped on him with her legs wrapped around him like a koala
bear. (He didn't fall) Tosca is her role debut and I thought the role suited
her very well. She has power and clarity in her voice, she can float notes,
she's an excellent actress and the vocal color is right for role, although
not distinct enough that I could tell it from another singer.  

One of my pet peeves for Tosca is excessive rolling R in "Avanti a lui
tremava tutta Roma" done by most non-italian speakers so it was nice to hear
it uttered plainly with disgust.

 

I was very happy to find some historical archive collections in the display
cases at the foyer. They had display cases with costumes (how tiny was
Dorothy Kirsten's waist!), Tiaras and necklaces worn by the legendary
Toscas, newspaper clippings going back to 1932, orchestra ticket from
decades ago for $10!

 

Kirsten


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