REVIEW: Tosca (NZ Opera)

Orla Boylan (Tosca) and Simon O'Neill's (Cavaradossi) performances are truly electrifying.

Tosca truly thrills [by Sharu Delilkan]

Orla Boylan (Tosca) and Simon O'Neill's (Cavaradossi) performances are truly electrifying.
Orla Boylan (Tosca) and Simon O’Neill’s (Cavaradossi) performances are truly electrifying.

Tosca‘s opening night, like it’s inaugural one in 1900, was nothing short of a triumph. Everything from the set to the amazing vocals kept us thoroughly entertained with the NZ Opera‘s two hour long performance.

Orla Boylan as the beguiling Floria Tosca was mesmerising, to say the least. Her theatrical performance on stage was further heightened by the magnificent costumes she was adorned with, thanks to the consummate costumier Elizabeth Whiting. Likewise local treasure Simon O’Neill was equally watchable, making the audience brim with Kiwi pride. His depiction of Mario Cavardossi was brilliant, unleashing the hero and ultimate romantic within. And like Boylan, O’Neill‘s vocals were absolutely stunning – he is undoubtedly a world class tenor at the top of his game. Unfortunately theatrically Philip Rhodes as Baron Scarpio was not as successful. Both my opera buddy and I agreed that he was not ‘deliciously devilish’ enough to play the part of the villain – an unfortunate outcome for what could have been a crowd pleasing role.

Another Kiwi treasure, set designer Jan Ubels, also did New Zealand proud. His understated but well thought out, flexible set served as the perfect backdrop which allowed our protagonists to shine throughout. Jason Morphett‘s lighting design also heightened the drama on stage with his emotive choices throughout this passion piece. And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t credit the entire creative team’s cohesion thanks to the formidable leadership of director Stuart Maunder.

Generally the pace of the opening night show was spot on. My only little gripe was that the second act did dragged a little towards the middle but we were very soon reeled back in by the passion and drama unfolding on stage.

The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra as always did Giacomo Puccini‘s opera proud. Their faultless performance was an added bonus under the astute direction of Tobias Ringborg. Likewise the Freemasons NZ Opera Chorus led by John Rosser was memorable in the final of Act One, despite their fleeting appearance.

I highly recommend this production which I understand is heading to art houses nationally. So if you’re unable to catch the show short season in Auckland look out on the NZ Opera‘s website to find out where you can catch it at a venue near you – well worth a look in!

NZ Opera’s Tosca plays at the ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre until 27 Sept. Details see NZ Opera.

SEE ALSO Theatreview Review by Penny Dodd

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