Tosca, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Every emotion in Tosca is a passion as the action moves between love, hope and ambition only to end in despair as human frailty meets its match with cruel disappointment.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Every emotion in Tosca is a passion as the action moves between love, hope and ambition only to end in despair as human frailty meets its match with cruel disappointment.

Against a background of political revolution, personalities are warped and all their plans are thwarted.

The State Opera of Plovdiv does not understate the case in Peter Ultee's production of Puccini's opera.


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His interpretation has the solid merits of tradition. The acting is sometimes a bit wooden, especially at the start, and the singers tend to abide by the old convention of coming to the very front of the stage for their great moments and declaring their feelings direct to the audience.

But it does not take long to become used to this rather dated style, and in the second act, set in a chamber of gold and crimson, the full force of the monstrosities comes across strongly.

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The surtitles are both an aid to understanding the action and an unintentional source of a slightly off key humour.

Nayden Todorov is the musical director, bringing out the richness of the orchestration without swamping the soloists. Orlin Goranov has the thrilling light tenor tone needed for Cavaradossi, Elmira Mukhametzianova is a more comely Tosca than many, and Martin Ilief gives powerfully sinister characterisation to Scarpia. The crowd scenes, though colourful and on quite a large scale, are stiff and do not make enough impact.

t Tosca continues at the Theatre Royal until Wednesday May 29. Box office: 01603 630000.

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