Palm Beach Opera’s staging of Puccini’s Tosca is a delight to eye and ear. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s designs, originally created for San Francisco, provide magnificent representations of the three locales in Rome at which the action of this political thriller takes place and help bring this masterpiece vividly to life.
Keri Alkema portrays Floria Tosca as a true diva, bringing out the humor of her extreme jealousy, the sincerity of her religious faith, and the depth of her love for Cavaradossi. Her ‘Vissi d’arte’, in Act Two when she is in the company of Scarpia, Cavaradossi being tortured by the Baron’s henchmen, is artfully phrased – powerful and moving. Another highlight is her gloriously sung Act Three duet with Riccardo Massi, a terrific Cavaradossi. In his singing and acting Massi projects the painter’s affection for Tosca, as well as his political ardor and courage: ‘Recondita armonia’ in Act One being as sunny as ‘E lucevan le stelle’ is despairing in the final Act, Massi’s top notes ringing out thrillingly.
Michael Chioldi’s Scarpia commands the stage and infuses the chief of police with the evil that he acknowledges when he compares himself with Shakespeare’s arch-villain, Iago, a portrayal distinguished by vocal power that rages over the excellent chorus and orchestra without compromising timbre or intonation, yet is sweetly lyrical when Scarpia feigns civility. Thomas Hammons as the Sacristan and Scott Conner as Angelotti both excel, and members of the company’s Young Artist and Apprentice Artist programs ably rounded out the cast, all responding to David Stern’s leadership.