Brian Jagde stars in a Tosca at Opéra Bastille which will take your breath away

FranceFrance Puccini, Tosca: Soloists, Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine, Chorus and Orchestra of l’Opéra national de Paris / Paolo Bortolameolli (conductor). Opéra Bastille, Paris, 20.10.2022. (SL)

Elena Stikhina (Tosca), Brian Jagde (Cavaradossi) and Ambrogio Maestri (rear, Scarpia) © Vincent Pontet/OnP

Director – Pierre Audi
Sets – Christof Hetzer
Costumes – Robby Duiveman
Lighting – Jean Kalman
Dramaturgy – Klaus Bertisch
Chorus master – Alessandro Di Stefano

Floria Tosca – Elena Stikhina
Mario Cavaradossi – Brian Jagde
Baron Scarpia – Ambrogio Maestri
Cesare Angelotti – Sava Vemić
Spoletta – Michael Colvin
A Sacristan – Renato Girolami
Sciarrone – Philippe Rouillon
A Jailer – Christian Rodrigue Moungoungou

L’Opéra national de Paris delivers everything one could want and more in an exhilarating production of Puccini’s Tosca, directed by Pierre Audi and first performed there in 2014. Set in nineteenth-century Rome, a time of political turmoil, the opera navigates complex themes of love, competing political ideologies and violence. These themes, coupled with Christof Hetzer’s mystical set design and Robby Duiveman’s superb costumes, create an electrifying atmosphere that sets the tone for the entire performance.

When the first act opens, a murky veil quickly lifts to reveal the imposing Church of Sant’ Andrea della Valle, shrouded in a blanket of smog. The drama of the opera begins when Brian Jagde as Mario Cavaradossi decides to harbor the political prisoner Cesare Angelotti, played by Sava Vemić, after he escapes from jail. The two men flee the church to hide Angelotti in the countryside under the cover of the youth choir’s rehearsal of ‘Te deum’, beautifully performed by the children’s chorus, Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine.

When Ambrogio Maestri (a huge voice and threatening presence) as Baron Scarpia, the Roman chief of police, suspects that Cavaradossi is the one harboring the escaped prisoner, he begins to interrogate Cavaradossi’s lover, Floria Tosca, sung by Elena Stikhina in superb voice. A celebrated soprano, Tosca enchants every man who crosses her path. Beneath the megalithic cross that hovers ominously above the stage, Tosca finds herself having to plead for the life of her lover with the infatuated Scarpia, who takes Cavaradossi prisoner.

Pierre Audi’s Tosca Act III © Vincent Pontet/OnP

A highlight of the performance comes in Act III when Jagde sings Cavaradossi’s ‘E lucevan le stelle’ as he awaits his execution. The retrospective aria (Italian for ‘and the stars were shining’) muses on Cavaradossi’s love for Tosca and how it has all been in vain in the light of his impending death. Jagde’s compelling performance was so magnificent that the entire opera house erupted in applause at its end.

Fast-paced violence, torture, deception and manipulation are all accentuated by a thunderous performance from the Orchestra of l’Opéra national de Paris. Under conductor Paolo Bortolameolli, the orchestra provides a breathtaking foundation for the opera that does not miss a single beat.

Tosca will be showing at the Opera Bastille until 26 November and is one not to be missed.

Sam Loetscher

1 thought on “Brian Jagde stars in a <i>Tosca</i> at Opéra Bastille which will take your breath away”

  1. After reading this review, I feel I must attend this showing of Tosca at L’Opera National de Paris!


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