I went to tonight's performance of Tosca at the Royal Opera with trepidation. First we were told (a few weeks ago) Deborah Voigt pulled out due to illness and Angela Gheorghiu replaced her. Then Marcello Giordani got ill and was replaced by Massimo Giordano a few days ago. So, will Bryn Terfel put in an appearance tonight? Thank goodness there were no more cast changes. The orchestra played the opening chords with unusual umph. Massimo Giordano was a gallant Cavaradossi. Bryn Terfel was his usual fantastic self where a lot of care went into his portrayal of Scarpia - less on the voice and more on the drama. The real transformation was Angela Gheorghiu. When I saw her in the premiere of this production (design Paul Brown, director Jonathan Kent) a few years ago I thought her Tosca as an attention seeking school-girl which looked ridiculous across from the very deep and grown up Scarpia (Bryn Terfel). In tonight's performance she was full of fire with a greater breadth of emotions and tone, where a few of her top notes rang throughout the auditorium. My guess is the revival director Stephen Barlow made the school girl grow up. So tonight's Tosca turned out to be exceptional.
I quite forgot the first number in Porgy and Bess is Summertime! Beautifully sung by Nicole Cabell as Bess. On a whole, the chorus number was better sung than the solo numbers - where the diction was generally inadequate. The set (Michael Yeargan) was three-dimensional and worked really well with the many scenes in this work. John Wilson was in his elements in the pit and the orchestra responded with a rhythmic boisterous sound - the best part of the evening.