Appealingly over the top: Sondra Radvanovsky is an ideal Tosca for LA Opera, with ample support from Domingo and Caird
May 23, 2013 1 Comment
If I were to look up “diva” in the dictionary, I’d half expect to see one of the definitions — maybe THE definition — to be “Floria Tosca.” The character after which Puccini named his famous opera has all the attributes that would come to mind when I think of a diva: petulant but passionate, jealous but loving, a general pain in the ass but someone you’d definitely want on your side in a fight, and most importantly, a singer with the grandest of voices.
Because of that, a successful production of Tosca (the opera) requires a dramatic soprano as Tosca (the character) who is willing to be AND is capable of being the ultimate diva on stage. I firmly believe that more than any of the other female leads in Puccini’s most famous operas – Mimi (La Boheme), Turandot, or even Butterfly — Floria Tosca needs to be grandiose or the whole show will fall flat.
Sondra Radvanovsky is that kind of Floria Tosca in all the best ways. As evidenced last Saturday night during the opening performance of Los Angeles Opera’s six show run, Ms. Radvanovsky had both dramatic flair and subtlety, matched by stunning vocal chops. She easily covered the full range of emotion and expression this demanding role calls for: I believed that she loved Cavaradossi; I believed that she was intensely suspicious and jealous that he may have been cheating on her; I believed that she was a reluctant murderer, but a determined one once she set her mind to it; that she was naive enough to think the execution was a fake, and crazy enough to kill herself. I bought it all, hook, line, and sinker.
It was awe-inspiring to watch and listen to Ms. Radvanovsky in all three acts, but if all you experienced was her rendition of “Vissi d’arte,” you’d probably still walk away with the same impression. This one aria was a microcosm of her whole performance: sad, anguished, powerful, a touch melancholy; and just when you thought you couldn’t ask for much more, she floated the final note for what seemed like an eternity, adding a little crescendo, then decrescendo, then back and forth again, injecting an extra touch of anxiousness and despair. It was breathtaking.