Gustavo López-Manzitti’s passionate portrayal of Mario Cavaradossi is intense – his daredevil high tenor notes and focused acting made for a spellbinding character. His Recondita armonia, extolling the mysteries of Floria Tosca and why he finds her beautiful was almost as gripping as his hauntingly sad E lucevan le stelle - accompanied cautiously by clarinetist Marianne Gythfeldt.
Kary Shay Thomson’s Floria Tosca was brilliantly sung. The glockenspiel and flute were perfectly balanced with her voice in E la luna piena – and she brought the house down with her heart wrenching rendition of Vissi d’arte. During the wild applause, both Youngblood and Thomson stayed so firmly in character that I never lost the feeling of being immersed in the story.
The staging by Marc Astafan is inventively illustrative. He places Scarpia on one side, while to his left the choir and cardinal sing the Te Deum to celebrate Napoleon’s defeat. But Scarpia is singing about how he wants to seduce Tosca and cries, “Tosca, mi fai dimenticare Dio” (Tosca you make me forget God) as he demoniacally rips apart a blood red rose given by Tosca as an offering to the church.
Conductor John Baril brings out the contrasting sounds of the Puccini score -- like the bell sounds representing the church as well as tolling the warning of the devious Scarpia. Although the orchestra did not have as many stands as Puccini would have demanded, they produce a great sound. The next performances are on Friday, May 7 and Saturday, May 8 at 8 p.m.