Operaen delivers another capitivating Tosca

Tosca is generally thought to be a very accessible opera. It tells the tale of the eponymous heroine (soprano), a singer and a woman with a passion for histrionics, and her lover, Cavaradossi (tenor), a painter who is faithful to her but lets his eye wander in search of a life-model. And then there is Baron Scarpia (baritone), the chief of police who is an abuser of power.

The drama stems from Cavaradossi’s imprisonment, torture and death sentence, and Tosca’s attempt to fool Scarpia into thinking she is prepared to sleep with him if he spares Cavaradossi’s life. It includes beautiful arias such as 'Qual'occhio' ('What eyes in the world') sung by the lovers, and powerful choral moments such as 'Te Deum laudamus' ('We praise thee, O God') ending the first act. Most famous and striking of all, however, is Tosca’s own 'Vissi d'arte' ('I lived for art, I lived for love'), which is guaranteed to give its listeners goosebumps.

Peter Langdal, known for his productions of Hotel Strindberg (2005) and Amadeus (2013) amongst other achievements, was invited to return to the Copenhagen’s Opera House after the successful staging of Tosca in 2006.

A commendable set
Credit must go to the set and costume designer, Karin Betz. Her task was to find a way of designing a set that not only conveys a sense of the turmoil that envelops the lovers in the story, but is capable of generating the atmosphere of a church (Sant'Andrea della Valle), palazzo apartment (Scarpia's apartment in the Palazzo Farnese ) and castle (Castel Sant'Angelo). Her response was to come up with an obscure, minimalistically-lit revolving and narrowing stage space, which at the moments of greatest tension starts to remind us of the famous cog scene in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times.

Johan Reuter is a terrifying and convincing Scarpia, while Ylva Kihlberg, though she is perhaps a little statuesque for some tastes, is flawless as Tosca. However, perhaps somewhat awkwardly, Italian-Brazilian tenor and rising star Tiago Arancam, playing the part of  Cavaradossi, steals the show.

Tosca was performed at Store Scene. The last performance of its run was on December 2.