On Wednesday evening, the Tel Aviv Opera kicked off its premiere performance of Giacomo Puccini's romantic tragedy “Tosca”. This was the first time the Israeli Opera company has performed the show since 1999. Opening night for any show is always very exciting and before a packed house expectations were sky high prior to the show. It is the first opportunity for the public to experience a director’s vision and this version of “Tosca” was very experimental. Director Hugo De Ana employed the use of two giant silk screens which projected flashing videos throughout the performance creating a larger than life feeling.
The story takes place in Rome, the year 1800 during the Franco-Italian war. The opening act begins in the family chapel and with Angelotti, a political prisoner convicted of treason, fleeing the Pope's prison. Angelotti takes refuge in the church of Saint Andrea Della Valle where his sister has been praying for his release. Cavaradossi, the painter, agrees to hide Angelotti from the authorities and the tyrannical Scarpia. Cavaradossi is constantly forced to explain himself to his jealous lover, Tosca, who accuses him of being unfaithful. Scarpia, the evil police chief, tries to manipulate Tosca's jealousy and have the painter executed.
The role of Floria Tosca is played by the Soprano vocalist Hui He. Through her powerful voice you can feel her anguish being stricken by jealousy, fear, love, and uncertainty. Her vocal performance in the end of the second scene was the highlight of the entire show. In the last scene she begs Scarpia to release her lover Cavaradossi from prison. There is so much pain in her voice that you can not help but be swept away in her emotional distress. When she plunges her dagger deep into Scarpia's heart and belts out a murderous cry the audience nearly erupted. The end of the scene was greeted with exuberant applause and cheers of “bravo”, throughout the packed house.
The star of the concluding scene is director Hugo De Ana who, through his silk screen set design, is able to take the audience on a journey through 19th century Rome. The images of Roman statutes, cobblestone streets, and marching soldiers really made the audience feel like they had been transplanted into another world. Through these images, the viewers are able to follow Tosca as she rushes through the Castel Saint Angelo fortress to rescue her captive lover
The music is performed by Israeli Symphony Orchestra Rishon LeZion and conducted by Daniel Oren. If you have the opportunity to attend one opera this year make sure it is Hugo De Ana's adaptation of “Tosca”. The performance is a must see. The show will be running until May 7th and tickets can be purchased at the Tel Aviv Opera house box office.