Reviews of Puccini’s Tosca from English National Opera at the London Coliseum.
The first production of ENO’s new the season at the Coliseum is Christof Loy’s production of Puccini’s Tosca.
This is the UK premiere of Loy’s production, which move the opera from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, and stars Sinéad Campbell-Wallace (La Boheme) as Tosca, and conducted by Leo Hussain.
Other cast include Italianate tenor Adam Smith as Cavaradossi; rising star Noel Bouley as Scarpia; Lucia Lucas as Sacristan; current Lindemann Young Artist at The Metropolitan Opera, Msimelelo Mbali as Cesare Angelotti; new ENO Harewood Artist Ossian Huskinson as Sciarrone; and current ENO Harewood Artist John Findon as Spoletta.
Sets and costumes are by Christian Schmidt, and lighting is by Olaf Winter.
Tosca runs at the London Coliseum until 4 November 2022.
"... this production’s originality lies in Campbell-Wallace’s portrayal of Tosca as clinically mad, in the wake of her crime."
"It’s rare to hear singing of this duo’s quality when combined with such passionate conviction. Campbell-Wallace has a big and beautiful sound which cuts through the brass and shows no strain even at full volume in high register, while Smith’s easy, unforced bel canto is gorgeous throughout."
"Apart from replacing Puccini’s shepherd boy with a girl (for what, when sung by a treble, should be the most magical moment of the evening), Christof Loy’s elegantly designed production is virtually flawless."
"English National Opera’s Tosca has scale and passion"
"There is powerful singing in this upbeat, confident staging of Puccini"
"Anybody who has deserted ENO recently because of a run of outlandish productions can come back. Originally staged by Finnish National Opera in 2018, this Tosca is a typically professional production from German director Christof Loy and, some questionable moments apart, is fairly traditional in its look and impact."
"If only the conductor, Leo Hussain, did not sap the energy so much, everything would be in place. His is a stop-go performance, at its best when he is letting the ENO orchestra off the leash. That can deliver quite a punch in this big theatre."
"Old-fashioned wailing and too much applause"
"Puccini’s most violent opera should scorch like a hot iron. Sadly, that’s only occasionally the case in English National Opera’s new production."
"For a start the intervals are too long, and the show wasn’t allowed to start until we had listened to a recitation by one Kieron Rennie, apparently ENO’s “poet in residence”. When Christof Loy’s production did get going, it proved to have inspired moments but turgid quarter-hours."
"The show is by no means an unredeemable failure. To be elevated into a truly gripping Tosca, however, it needs a lot more pace, energy and sustained intensity."
"Gloriously sung and full of grand passion, this is gripping theatre"
"Christof Loy’s atmospheric staging of Puccini’s opera doesn’t always cohere, but its psychological probing proves powerful and Adam Smith is a tremendous Cavaradossi"
"A deliberate jumble of periods in Christian Schmidt’s designs underscores the ideological conflict between revolutionary republicanism and a corrupt monarchy at the work’s centre."
"... the performances are often comparably strong. Campbell-Wallace’s voice blazes comfortably in its upper registers, but there’s great lyrical warmth in her scenes with Smith, and Vissi d’Arte is beautifully done. Bouley is a mesmerising theatrical animal, though Wood sang with wonderful evenness of tone and great dramatic fire. Smith, meanwhile, makes a tremendous Cavaradossi, his arias gloriously phrased, his way with words often immaculate..."
"Puccini's melodramatic masterpiece soars in this bold reimagining"
"The staging doesn't always work, but Christof Loy's production eschews mawkishness to find the thrumming heart of Puccini's tragedy"
"ENO’s new version, though, is no cut-price radical rethink, but a tried and tested production by one of Europe’s currently top-notch opera directors."
"Loy’s concept is that the opera inhabits two worlds, that of an old regime represented by Scarpia and his gang of thugs, and the new revolutionary spirit captured by Cavaradossi. This is not quite coherent..."
"Some quirks in Loy’s reading seem designed to undercut Puccini’s precisely observed orchestral realism, which ironically is excellently captured by the energetic conductor Leo Hussain and the ENO orchestra"
"This rewarding show has an immediacy of communication which would not be lost if the text was faithful to Puccini’s original."
"Where the show scores highly is in individual performances and on the musical side generally."
"Both of the all-singing, all-acting principals impress. If Sinéad Campbell-Wallace’s Tosca has some way to go in bringing spontaneity to her character’s passionate volatility, her vocal command is absolute"