Sunday, June 12, 2005

More pleasant surprises - Orchestra London's 'Tosca'

I had occasion this weekend to attend a performance of 'Tosca' put on by Orchestra London and Pacific Opera at The Grand Theatre in London, Ontario. I have seen this opera a few times, and it has never been one of my favourite Puccini operas.
The Grand Theatre is a pleasant small theatre. Little did I know what a difference this could make. Sitting in the back of the orchestra section, I was amazed at how close to both the orchestra and the stage, and thus the performers, all of us in the theatre were.
The opera was very artfully staged, very well performed, and quite well sung (all principals were excellent, with a believably noble Cavaradossi, a fiery Tosca, and a tremendously Snidely Whiplash Scarpia), and the orchestra sounded lovely, with the usual small number of passages that seemed to miss slightly. But what was good was so intensified by the scale, and the small misses so obscured by how powerful the good was, that I found the evening an utter delight. It told me a lot about how much one loses by seeing opera in a theatre that allows too much distance from the stage; I am very curious now to experience the new centre in Toronto, as I had stopped attending Canadian Opera Company performances at the larger local theatre some time ago.
Congratulations to Orchestra London and team for a wonderful piece of work.
I had never seen an opera in this intimate a setting and it makes for a wonderful experience.
My understanding is that this was somewhat of an experiment for the companies involved. It seems they have concluded it is a success - I concur completely - and will be putting on 'Rigoletto' next year. I plan to be there.


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