There is a saying "Shit happens" when bad luck strikes. And I had some on travel. But most importantly not in the opera. José Cura was singing his best Cavaradossi. Maria Guleghina and José Cura had great rapport towards each other. Maria Guleghina was amazing as Floria Tosca. They both acted and sang extremely well, alone and were magic when both was together. And then one can add the third, Carlos Almaguer as Scarpia, this was his deservedly triumphant debut at the Wiener Staatsoper. A menacing and deep voice and he did just everything right to be a super Scarpia.
There were some minor fault. But they were really minor. In the 2nd act and had mostly with windows and doors. In the beginning one opens the window to hear the music outside the palace. But the music was already there when one opens the window. And again when closing the window the music stopped before the windows was closed. Thus shattering the illusion of a window. And again when when Scarpia asks Spoletta to shut the door so that his secret orders will not be heard by others, the orders of shooting Cavaradossi, just like with Palmiere... a simulated shooting. But the door opens by itself, but this being an opera one can't stop the action, the music, to shut the door. Luckily this audience was willing let minor fault be.
Not everybody applauded Maria Guleghina's Vissi d'arte, I did. Although she was not singing it all correctly, for me the most important thing was that she was in character and I thought it also was very beautifully sung. To hear a fault here you really needed to know your TOSCA.
2009-04-25 Tosca (G.Puccini), Wiener Staatsoper
Mario Cavaradossi = José Cura
Floria Tosca = Maria Guleghina
Baron Scarpia = Carlos Almaguer
Cesare Angelotti = Marcus Pelz
Der Mesner = Alfred Sramek
Spoletta = Benedikt Kobel
Sciarrone = Zoltan Nagy
Ein Schließer = Alexandru Moisiuc
Pier Giorgio Morandi, conductor
But if I start with the 1st act. Pier Giorgio Morandi was a wonderful conductor in this opera. We had an uncommonly short and thin Angelotti, but he had an imposing voice. I though they had really made Angelotti (Marcus Pelz) look that he had been in jail and suffers so much, getting skinny, so that it was not strange that Cavaradossi did not recognize him. The Sagrestano was Alfred Sramek who would have been perfect had he not so often "talked" to the audience. It was like very old school opera. But otherwise this was a more real Sagrestano and no comic figure. José Cura's Cavaradossi was much improved since last I saw him. He acted Cavaradossi who was a serious painter. Cavalier Cavaradossi is an aristocrat and Sagrestano is not, so in the time of the opera, Cavaradossi is not arrogant just aristocrat when he commands the Sagrestano "Dammi colori". A wonderful Recondita armonia followed. Then Cavaradossi and Angelotti met. It is so real that one understands Cavaradossi's reaction. Then finally, Maria Guleghina as Floria Tosca. Grand Duet, and it is truly magic In the end also Scarpia appears. Carlos Almaguer, imposing although not tall like Maria Guleghina or José Cura. This Scarpia is a power-house. Then when Tosca appears again, there is so much tension and wonderful acted (soft) confrontation between Scarpia and Tosca. Maria Guleghina is not only a great singer but a wonderful actress. A great Tosca. It was so lucky to finally have a Scarpia that was so right for the role.Carlos Almaguer, I have seen him before as Alfio in Arena di Verona, but this was really HIS role. BRAVISSIMI!!!!
Act 2: He is the perfect Scarpia still in this act. And that Maria Guleghina and José Cura would be wonderful also in this act was no surprise. The surprise was Sciarrone, Zoltan Nagy. Not so usual that one remembers him. But he really acted this person, a sinister police agent. When he stood in the door to the torture chamber he was like a statue, never reacting to Maria Guleghina's desperate Tosca, but only listening to Scarpia. So in this acting by Zoltan Nagy the story in act 2 was even more sinister and menacing. Tosca's predicament became even more desperate when turned to a human who had no soft spot like Zoltan Nagy's Sciarrone. I found Maria Guleghina's portrait as Floria Tosca to be the most real and her singing and acting was the closest to perfect I have ever seen. Of course, she was helped by having the perfect Scarpia, Mario Cavaradossi and Sciarrone. It always helps when one have the best colleagues.
Act 3: Alexandru Moisiuc, was the prison guard. He did well. José Cura sang E Luceven Le Stelle, wonderfully. Then Maria Guleghina came and it was a Grandissimo Duet. This TOSCA performance was so perfect that really moved me to tears many times.
BRAVA, Maria Guleghina!!!
BRAVO, José Cura!!!!
And to Carlos Almaguer, BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!
The Verdict: The closest to perfection that I have ever seen.
Of course I waited by the stage door and I was lucky, I saw José Cura and Maria Guleghina and could take a photo of them, not together, alone.
For more reviews from my travels, see www.operaduetstravel.com