The 2011 thriller: Tosca

Said stage director Keith Warner: “I have always considered Tosca one of the best films Hitchcock never made. The story alone is a spellbindingly great, if somewhat macabre thriller. It seems to move with the times and never loses the potential to excite and shock. It is as if Puccini, his librettists, Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, and Victorien Sardou, on whose play the libretto is based, hit upon a perfect metaphor for our trouble laden modern world. Which of us does not know in our hearts as we watch this piece that the Scarpia deal, in myriad forms, is not being struck in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Rhodesia, in Putin's Russia and Obama's United States right at this moment?”

The Tosca of the 2011 Savonlinna Opera Festival is a fresh interpretation of one of Puccini’s best-known operas: a telling mixture of a traditional costume drama and a new psychological suspense story. Keith Warner has sought to give his characters depth and humanity, creating the atmosphere of a thriller and playing up certain aspects. Jason Southgate has turned the castle stage into a Roman cemetery dotted with family mausoleums and gravestones, while elsewhere we see a garden and the Castel Sant’Angelo. The visual abundance is in line with Warner’s fertile imagination and the characters’ complexity. Warner makes bold use of the whole wide stage, and Wolfgang Göbbel’s lighting creates a ghostly ambience.

Singing the part of Scarpia this year are Juha Uusitalo and Claudio Sgura. Uusitalo, a vocal master already familiar to Finnish audiences, sang the part last season, but Claudio Sgura is a new acquaintance. An Italian baritone profiled as a performer of dynamic, macho roles, he is sure to captivate Olavinlinna audiences with his magnificent voice and presence.

Cast as Mario Cavaradossi the painter is one of the Italian tenors most in demand in the world, Massimo Giordano. Alternating with him will be Mexican Diego Torrea, the brilliant Edgardo in last year’s Savonlinna production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Giordano is an artist who enters to the very fullest into his part and prepared for the Savonlinna season by singing the same character in Paris in April-May and Vienna in June. Cavaradossi’s arias Recondita armonia and E lucevan le stelle are sure to be sung in superb and moving renderings resting on the true Italian tenor tradition.

Two singers will share the part of Floria Tosca: María José Siri, a rising star on the international soprano firmament, and Tiffany Abban. María José Siri comes from Uruguay and is known particularly for her performances in the title role of Verdi’s Aida. Puccini’s Tosca is a recent addition to her repertoire. Tiffany Abban is a young American soprano. She has previously sung Tosca at Palm Beach Opera and will be bringing a young, ecstatic, glowing Tosca to Savonlinna.

Read more about this year’s Tosca