Palm Beach Opera – Puccini’s Tosca – Keri Alkema, Riccardo Massi, Michael Chioldi; directed by Fenlon Lamb; conducted by David Stern

Tosca – Melodramma in three Acts to a libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa & Luigi Illica based on the play La Tosca by Victorien Sardou [sung in Italian, with English supertitles by Brett Finley]

Floria Tosca – Keri Alkema
Mario Cavaradossi – Riccardo Massi
Baron Scarpia – Michael Chioldi
Cesare Angelotti – Scott Conner
Sacristan – Thomas Hammons
Spoletta – Brian Wallin
Sciarrone – Joshua Conyers
Shepherd – Kelsey Robertson
Jailer – Andrew Simpson

Chorus & Orchestra of Palm Beach Opera
David Stern

Fenlon Lamb – Stage Direction
Jean-Pierre Ponnelle – Scenic Designer
Stuart Duke – Lighting Designer
Bryan Johnson – Property Designer
Lee Soroko – Fight Director
Kathy Waszkelewicz – Hair & Makeup

Reviewed by: David M. Rice

Reviewed: 28 January, 2018
Venue: Dreyfoos Concert Hall, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, West Palm Beach, Florida

Palm Beach Opera’s production of Puccini’s ToscaPhotograph: Bruce BennettPalm 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.

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