Cher Public

Two faces of Tosca

avantiWhile we’re waiting for further news on the final Tosca of the Met season, La Cieca suggests we consider the diva and the non-diva, on the other side of the jump.

First, Anna Magnani is, as La Cieca imagines, Floria Tosca backstage at a provincial gig.

And now, another view of the character from Catherine Malfitano, who is directing Tosca for the English National Opera.

The danger of perfection

  • Bluessweet

    As promised: My own stupid opinion—

    I posted, earlier this week, two professional reviews of the OCP production of La Traviata. We had a regular contributor add a third. They were, to be honest, wildly at variance. Just goes to show you taste is just that. As my mother used to say, “Some people’s taste is all in their mouth.”

    Anyway, I saw the production last evening. Leah Partridge was the star of the show. Her first couple of lines, recitative with Flora, (Allison Sanders, the Curtis Soprano not the other one from Arizona) were at very low volume and Sanders was MUCH stronger. Partridge came alive immediately after and began to dominate any scene in which she appeared. (Every scene but that of the two Germonts and the ballet, that is to say.) Her tonal quality was full and she seemed comfortable from top to bottom range of the role. I may have heard one thin high note all evening. As the one professional report mentioned, she did this while ACTING the role of a tortured and sick-unto-death woman. The people sitting next to me were amazed. In other productions that they had seen of this work, Violetta just lay abed and slowly faded away. While I have seen more action than that in the past, no one depicted Violetta’s struggles more physically than Partridge. By the way, one reviewer typified her as “gaunt.” She is a good-looking woman with a trim figure. Only with her “dieing” make-up in the last act was she in any way “gaunt.”

    The tenor, Charles Castronuovo, alas, ran hot and cold and quite often did not have enough volume to fill the house (Capacity 2897, in four tiers, built in 1857.) He did mange to butcher the two high notes at the end of the scene with the elder Germont. It was a good thing the action called for him to run off stage at that point. He came back in the next act in better control.

    Mark Stone, as Germont, did a good, steady job. While I’ve seen better, I’m not sure how often he has sung the role. Since most of his repertoire is a bit lighter, he may be just getting into this kind of fach. Nevertheless. I’d go to see any production of La Traviata in which he was singing this role. Good enough, not great.

    The first act character of Gastone (who introduces Alfredo to Violetta) was sung by Christopher Tiesi, whom we saw in a recital the week before. In the recital he was quite good but the role did not really allow us to see what he can do in a big house.

    Corrido Rovaris led the orchestra, with his usual high competence. The violins sounded a bit “stringy” to me. Perhaps you need heavier bowing, even in the pit.

    The chorus was absolutely great. The Ballet, well, it was ok but I was not jumping up and down and wanting a DVD of it.

    Odd facts: The other week I posted a You Tube clip of a Flash aria done at Philly’s Reading terminal by OCP members. Mike Bolton, their Director of Community Programs told us that the clip has had 32,000 hits in two weeks.

    The house was essential full (Some limited vision seating remained.) The audience appeared much younger, on average, than many recent opera productions. That’s a good thing.

    • CruzSF

      Very interesting. When Charles Castronuovo sang Alfredo here (at SFO), he also had trouble with the end of Act II, scene I. (This was on July 1 last year, and he spelled his name “Castronovo” then.)He didn’t hit the higher notes that I remembered from my recordings (sorry, but I couldn’t read music then). I figured he took a lower option, but he struggled with that, too. There were also moments when I couldn’t hear him over the orchestra, in a house that seats around 3200 over 3 tiers. Other than that, he sang all right, although I thought his characterization to be a little underdeveloped.

      • Bluessweet

        CruzSF: I do not have my program with me and it may take days before I see it. I THOUGHT I checked the speling in the program but the OCP website spells Castronovo without the “u.”

        • richard

          On his own site, he is known as “Castronovo”

        • He’s a Facebook friend of mine…it’s Castronovo.

        • CruzSF

          Bluessweet: I figured that somewhere, a program note writer added a “u” or accidentally dropped it. Or that Mr. Castronovo went back to his roots like N. Buonoparte.

      • Bluessweet

        Interesting (to me) sidelight. Napoleon’s brother, Joseph, lived in Bordentwon, NJ for many years (1818-1843 +/-) and his nephew, Caroline Bonaparte Murat’s son lived in a house in Bordentown nearby, which I owned for many years.

        • CruzSF

          Wow. Sounds like a good place for a seance.

          I see that Castronovo will appear in Lucrezia Borgia next year in Munich. I wish more US companies would produce this opera.