Scottish Opera revive Besch's celebrated Tosca adaptation
The new production stars Susannah Glanville and José Ferrero
Described as a ‘shabby little shocker’ by one of America’s leading musicologists, Puccini’s Tosca has been a success with audiences the world over since its premiere in Rome in 1900. From the countless productions of it, one which has had particularly wide appeal is that of master storyteller Anthony Besch, created for Scottish Opera in 1980. Subsequently staged by international opera houses as far afield as New Zealand, Spain and the US, Besch’s production was revived by Scottish Opera in 2000 and then again in 2004 and now once more returns by popular demand.
This time under the direction of Jonathan Cocker, who, in the early stages of his career, worked with Besch, the opera is updated from the period of Napoleon’s invasion of Italy to Mussolini and the brutality of his regime in 1940s Rome. It’s got torture, murder, suicide and intrigue, but it’s also got some of Puccini’s best known lyrical arias that leave no one unaffected by the opera’s abundance of passion.
Who else to conduct but Scottish Opera’s inhouse music director, Francesco Corti, bringing his own Italian heritage to the score? ‘It’s pure Puccini,’ he says, ‘and goes from tenderness to huge tension. It is big and dramatic with so much passion and absolutely drives the action on stage.’
Taking on the title role, English soprano Susannah Glanville has already been critically acclaimed for her portrayal of the tragic opera diva Tosca in Opera North’s production three years ago. Her lover, Cavaradossi, is Spanish tenor José Ferrero and baddie Chief of Police Scarpia is Robert Poulton, previously heard with Scottish Opera in The Marriage of Figaro. Company regulars Paul Carey Jones and David Morrison also return to the cast and with over 40 in the chorus, this is Italian grand opera in truly grand style.
Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Fri 4, Sun 6, Tue 8, Thu 10 and Sat 12 May; Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 23, Fri 25, Sun 27, Thu 31 May and Sat 2 Jun.