<< -- 2 -- Robert Hugill ADMIRABLY CONVINCING
Sean Ruane proved quite a find as Cavaradossi. Ruane has a fine, Italianate voice which easily filled the small Cambridge Arts Theatre. He has a nice sense of line and really only needs to relax a little more; he seems to be developing well as an actor. You felt that, in each of Cavaradossi's big numbers, Ruane was caressing the music. In a bigger house, he would probably be unwise to sing big romantic roles at the present stage of his career, but I look forward to hearing him again.
As his Tosca, Constance Novis was dramatically convincing and never failed to be musical. It would be unfair to dwell too much on her performance as she went on at the last minute. But she seemed fully at home in both the production and the character. Novis's Tosca retained an element of girlishness that goes well with Tosca's naivety. Novis could play the diva where necessary, but I think that she could have made more of this element of the role. Novis's voice easily rode the climaxes, but I felt that her voice lacked something of the amplitude necessary for the role. She sounds as if, at this stage of her career, she would be more at home in roles such as Musetta and Marguerite, but her CV does include Lady Macbeth and Leonora in Il Trovatore.
In her confrontation with Scarpia in Act 2, Novis, Smith (acting) and Johnson (singing) successfully generated a remarkable amount of tension. The drama remained convincingly on edge despite the split nature of the role of Scarpia. My only real complaint about this act was that Novis needs to understand that less can be more. Carroll's personen regie was nicely detailed, but Novis tended to make a little too much of the action in such a small acting area.
Novis and Ruane worked well together and their duets were some of the musical highlights of the production. Their Act 1 duet, with Ruane on the upper level above Novis, was an imaginative use of the staging and a good solution to the essentially static nature of such set pieces.
Copyright © 28 March 2006
Robert Hugill, London UK