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You should neither expect nor desire sumptuous scenery from a touring company. The Poles brought plenty to suggest a fairly glitzy Roman church, the damasked interior of the Farnese Palace and a dawn scene in the Castello S. Angelo. They might, however, have used it to greater effect than simply as a mise en scene to avoid crashing into. The singing had to carry the performance and, on the whole, it more-or-less managed to do so.

Leontyne Price is my favoured Tosca on disc (sorry, Maria!) and Martina Arroyo the most persuasive that I've seen on stage -- bravely taking possession of the stage of Lisbon's Sao Carlos so imbued with the ghost of Callas -- some fifteen years ago. Aleksandra Lemiszka-Myrlak doesn't have a massive voice or even an especially beautiful one but roundness of tone in all registers and an attention-grabbing stage presence ensured that we recognised her larger-than-life status. Vissi D'Arte can never be anything other than a showstopper -- in both the positive and negative meanings of the term -- and she delighted the audience with a tender frailty guaranteed to make you care about her fate.

The Polish State Opera of Wroclaw's 2000 Production of 'Tosca'

Taras Iwaniw, as Cavaradossi, is a lightish tenor with a lovely voice and great promise. My major complaint might be that he could seem to have exhausted his stock of consonants in greeting his cluster-ridden compatriots and had few enough left to raise his diction above a beautiful but Italian-inadequate vowel-evened vocalise. For all that, you identified with his torments too.

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Copyright © 3 December 2000 David Wilkins, Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK





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