★★★½☆ Impressive individual performances in an otherwise safe production.

Adelaide Festival Centre
November 12, 2016

Puccini’s  Tosca is a work of extremes: love, murder and suicide all play their part in a tragic tale of war-torn love. Although the plot has been criticised as melodramatic, at its best  Tosca is visceral and dark, accompanied by a masterful score featuring some Puccini’s best-loved arias. It is something of a shame then that State Opera Company of South Australia chose to play this version of  Tosca safe. Commanding performances from soloists were let down by a tame approach to theatrics, which brought out the more kitsch elements of the drama, lessening the tragedy and heightening the opera’s melodramatic qualities.

Visually SOSA’s Toscawas beautiful, if traditional. Scenery and costumes by Ashley Martin-Davis painted an expected canvas of 19th-century Rome: the hanging picture of Cavardossi’s Madonna overshadowed conversations of love throughout the first act, whilst in the second act Scarpia’s extravagant quarters highlighted the two-faced nature of a character who conceals lust for blood and women beneath the guise of political leadership.

Rosario La Spina with Andrew Turner and David Cox, photo © Ali Feo

This safe approach to scenery...