Argentina Puccini, Tosca: Soloists and Orchestra of Juventus Lyrica, Antonio Maria Russo (conductor), Teatro Avenida, Buenos Aires. 26.10.2012. (JSJ)
Director/sets: Leonor Manso
Sets/lighting: Gonzalo Córdova
Costumes: Ponchi Morpurgo
Tosca: Sabrina Cirera
Cavaradossi: Darío Sayegh / Mariano Spagnolo
Scarpia: Enrique Gibert Mella / Juan Salvador Trupia y Rodríguez / Mario De Salvo
Angelotti: Cristian de Marco / Nicolás Secco
Sacristan: Leandro Sosa
Spoletta: Ramiro Pérez / Sebastián Russo
Sciarrone: Augusto Nureña / Juan Salvador Trupia y Rodríguez
Gaoler: Cristian de Marco / Nicolás Secco
Juventus Lyrica’s selection of Puccini’s Tosca to close its 2012 season was a welcome one, as notwithstanding the popularity of the work, it has been performed rather infrequently in recent years in Buenos Aires (the city that has the distinction of having put on the very first production outside Italy).
In their second production for the company following their 2011 Lucia di Lammermoor, producer Leonor Manso and Gonzalo Córdova’s sets and lighting offered a stark and raw telling of this dramatic story, which sees Tosca the victim of her own jealousy.
A simple setting with arches was used effectively as the backdrop across all the acts, and provided continuity from the church interior of Act 1 to Scarpia’s rooms and finally the Castel Sant’Angelo terrace of Act 3.
Though the play on which Tosca is based was written more than a century ago and is set a century before that, the story is ultimately timeless and as likely to occur today as then. Manso, an actress, well conveyed the psychologies of the characters, contrasting power and powerlessness through the helplessness of Cavaradossi and resignation to her fate of Tosca with the brutality on the one hand and charm on the other of Scarpia.
This of course also required a strong cast – stronger perhaps than other works can get away with. As the pivot of the story as Scarpia, Enrique Gibert Mella both looked and sounded the part, bald, sharply featured and dressed in black and with the correct tone. Tenor Darío Sayegh, at once more innocent as Cavaradossi, sung with good timbre, and as Tosca, soprano Sabrina Cirera sung with fluid line and her Vissi d’arte was tender and emotional. As both Angelotti and the gaoler, bass Cristian de Marco was satisfactory, except for the lowest notes, which he struggled to reach.
Conductor Antonio Maria Russo showed his customary affinity for these scores from his native land, with but minor flaws – but on several occasions somewhat less volume would have provided better balance with the singers. Likewise the chorus, which sung well but almost overshadowed Scarpia’s interrogation of Cavaradossi in Act 2.
Jonathan Spencer Jones