TOSCA, A Political Lighthouse Opens at Opera Queensland
Composed by Giacomo Puccini who is heralded as one of the greatest composers of all time, Opera Queensland's Tosca provides a powerful social-commentary on the manipulative nature of power and how love, somehow, though often tragically, manages to win. The work follows the story of Tosca, a famous singer who is madly in love with the artist Cavardossi but Scarpia, the Chief of Police shows no remorse in his intent to destroy their love. Like many woman at that time, Tosca's character struggles to be heard in a merciless, man's world. But, unlike most female heroines from that period, she fights for her right to be heard, refusing to submit to a corrupt political system that only seeks to exploit her and her body. Directed by Patrick Nolan, this production does not hide behind the lens of a black and white world because of the real, humanised characters, as embodied by the cast. Rachelle Durkin creates a
deeply complex character for someone that the audience, admittedly, doesn't know much about. Durkin, through her performance, manages to transform her from an innocent victim, to a jealous lover, sublime artist, enraged murderess and pious believer, which all culminate to create multi-faceted character for the audience. Her constant wrestle with difficult choices makes the audience question as to whether she is a vulnerable or a strong character and whether or not it's possible for her to be both.
Angus Wood is formidable as Cavarodossi, who, like Tosca, is trapped in a tightening web of events. Wood delivers such a raw, honest performance that, like Tosca, you feel a sense of identification with him. We all have experienced the feeling of wanting to protect someone and of putting others above ourselves, so we can relate to Wood's character and we can share his journey as our selves, instead of merely as spectators. Wood and Durkin's chemistry was electrifying and both actors complimented each other beautifully when they were on stage. José Carbó was the prefect tyrant; cunning, vile, physical and manipulative and his scenes with Durkin made me want to get out of my seat and strangle him then and there. Thankfully, Tosca got to him before me.
The shortcomings of the performance were to do with the technical aspect. As someone who was sitting in the second row of the first balcony at the Lyric Theatre, sight lines were a mammoth problem.
Although Dale Ferguson's design was commendable, every actor that stood beyond the first two pews were either headless or invisible. It was very distracting and at times I felt myself thrown out of the narrative. Additionally, although the concept of having Cavarodossi tortured by a soldier behind a scrim was fantastic, it was executed poorly as we cooks only see half of Wood's body as he was too close to the scrim and not centered. I would suggest that this be revised before the next performance as I think it could be more powerful if it would have been dedicated more rehearsal time.
Tosca has a bold-narrative, powerful themes, three dimensional characters and a wonderful orchestra, conducted by Oliver von Dohányi.
Rating: 3 Stars