Posts Tagged ‘tragedy’

The Opera Novice goes to TOSCA

But this time I took a friend who was more familiar with opera!  And she thought it was beautiful.

Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste as the fiery opera diva in Puccini's passionate, political thriller Tosca at Opera San José. Photo by Chris Ayers

The story of Tosca is a tragedy of grand proportions:  there are tortured political prisoners, executions, shattered romances, and the tragic death of almost every major character.  Even the set designs are dark and gloomy, though still rich and sumptuous.  But to me, the novice, it seemed that this opera was much more about the singing and the music than the story.  While this might be good news for the seasoned opera lover, it was a little difficult for me to pay attention.  My loss, absolutely.

But there is nothing about Tosca to complain about.  The music really was beautiful, perfection as always at Opera San Jose, and the singing too was amazing.  This was my first time seeing Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste (Tosca) in a role and she was certainly a treat.  Her huge expressive eyes made her appear vulnerable and childlike, however Tosca really was anything but.  I loved her voice and the petulant way she directed her lover to repaint the eyes of a portrait on the church wall.  Jean-Baptiste also gives Tosca a certain ferocious quality, and a will to get done whatever is required.  Tosca is quite the tragic heroine.

I thought the singing and music were beautiful as well, but Tosca might be less newbie-friendly than my previous two operas.  It is slightly less exciting or overtly entertaining.  On the other hand, it seemed the audience of opera aficionados was much happier with Tosca than with the previous two operas.  My guest, the opera-lover, was overjoyed to finally see this opera, but I was just not so excited about this one as I have been with the others.  Both of these summations can be correct.

My recommendation for this one:  Opera fans should absolutely go see it!  The knowledgeable opera critics I have read appear to love it and as far as my untrained ear could tell it was fabulous.  My fellow Opera Newbies might want to wait for the next show:  The Barber of Seville. I am sure that one will be a delight for us all!  (But don’t let me stop you — go see it and report back your own opinion!)

Tosca
by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica
Based on the drama
La tosca by Victorien Sardou
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
November 13 – 28, 2010
California Theatre

345 South 1st Street, San Jose
Ticketing Information

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