Tosca (Welsh National Opera Tour), Mayflower Theatre | Review

Friday, 23 March 2018

Tosca (Welsh National Opera Tour)
Mayflower Theatre 
Reviewed on Thursday 22nd March 2018 by Victoria Hayward 

Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre is a well presented 90 year old theatre with excellent acoustics and architectural surroundings. This provided the perfect setting for Puccini’s Tosca. After its first performance in Rome 118 years ago, Puccini’s Tosca is brought to life by the phenomenal Welsh National Opera (WNO), bringing a diverse audience along with it.

Tosca is divided into three acts with two intervals. The curtain opened and conveyed the dimly lit church of Saint Andrea Della Valle. This is where we meet the first of our two lead gentlemen: Mario Cavaradossi played by the truly wonderful tenor Hector Sandoval; who is more than qualified after singing the title role of Don Carlos twice in Moscow. Hector’s Mario is a talented passionate lover, embroiled in a love so deep with his beau Floria Tosca. 

Floria is played by our very own Hampshire leading lady Claire Rutter. Claire plays the role in a bouncy, vibrant and refreshing way and able to switch from lover to murderer easily and with conviction.

To Mario’s Tenor, Baron Scarpia’s baritone matched unequivocally. Mark S Doss’ portrayal of the venomous villain owned the production. With his masculinity taking over the stage every time he took his place, he delivered a strong yet vulnerable character. 

The magnificent orchestra during this production were expertly conducted by Timothy Burke who led them through the stunning and complex score. It was beautifully rehearsed which was clear from the impeccable timing. 

One criticism would be that during the first act the orchestra out-volumed the singers on stage, although, this seemed to have been corrected by Act 2.

We must show gratitude to the scenery and stage design produced by Cardiff Theatrical Services. The glorious sets throughout really took the audience on a journey seen through the characters eyes.

If you, like me, have never been to the opera, you should not feel intimidated. The whole production was surtitled (not subtitled, as I have learnt) so you are able to see where the story is leading. The screens are above the stage and are placed discreetly so you are not drawn away from the performance.

Tosca is a great introduction to opera. It has an incredible score, an excellent cast and a flawless story. Filled with love, murder and tragedy it’s a whirlwind production sure to keep you on the edge of your seats. The audience were gripped from the very beginning.

I will leave you with this quote:

With a thousand kisses I shall seal your eyes,
and call you by a thousand names of love.

photo credit: Richard Hubert Smith