Jonathan Pell, Summer of Opera, Part 12

by Megan Meister

I had a meeting late this morning with Gill Graham who represents a number of interesting composers at her office off of Oxford Street and then dashed off to meet Hugh Canning at “The Ivy”  for lunch.  Hugh is one of London’s most distinguished music critics, and it was wonderful to catch up with him.  He hasn’t been able to see the new opera house in Dallas yet but has promised to make amends.

Tonight’s performance is TOSCA at the Royal Opera, which was to star Martina Serafin and Marcello Giordani, but as I mentioned on Monday, Miss Serafin has been ill, and Claire Rutter was asked to stand by in case of a cancellation.  Well, Miss Serafin has obviously recovered, but Mr. Giordani has now cancelled.  I am sorry that Marcello is sick, but it has afforded me the opportunity to hear the young Chilean tenor Giancarlo Monsalve, who made his Covent Garden debut in this role earlier this week.  He is young and eager, and very promising.  Miss Serafin makes a compelling Tosca, but Juha Uusitalo, the Finnish baritone, is a crude, somewhat blustery and unsubtle villain as Baron Scarpia.

The production, directed by Jonathan Kent and designed by Paul Brown, is sumptuous but static, and was obviously created to appeal to traditional audiences for years to come.  It replaced the famous production created by Luchino Visconti, and the iconic red velvet dress first worn in that classic production by Maria Callas,  has now been replaced by a mousy grey silk gown that looks washed out in the dark wood paneling of Scarpia’s Act II study.

I am sorry to be leaving in the morning—there is so much going on in and around London, operatically speaking, and I would have loved to see the CENDRILLON with Joyce DiDonato and Ewa Podles that opens next week at the Royal Opera, to say nothing about all the productions at Glyndeboune and Garsington.

Oh well, that will have to be another trip !

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