Opera is a fascinating art, it tells stories in a both paired down and lavish way. Often times, as with Tosca, the costumes, scenery and music all scream elegance and from first glance isn’t quite relatable. But in Minnesota Opera’s most recent production of Tosca you are completely engaged by the story and emotionally connected to the fates of the protagonists. And in this experience, the characters are relatable, because that is what Puccini did beautifully. He took “ordinary” characters (a kind opera diva and a painter) and put them in extraordinary circumstances that seemed to strip them of any facade and leave them as simply emotional human beings, and what is more relatable than that.
All this to say there is a reason that Tosca is still one of the most performed operas today and the Minnesota Opera and their artists took on the job of bringing this story to life beautifully. The sets were extravagant to introduce the drama and power of Rome while the story was set up in Act 1, but simplified beautifully in the remaining acts to allow the story and the performances, not the set take center stage. The singing and acting of Kelly Kaduce as Tosca, Leonardo Capalbo as Cavaradossi and Stephen Powell as the villain Scarpia all surpassed my expectations. But Capalbo’s tenor made the show worth seeing in and of itself, it filled the Ordway with beautiful clarity and purity. (Did I mention that in opera they don’t use microphones). And all I can say about Kelly Kaduce’s performance is that it was flawless.
My only complaint about the whole show was in the first act there was a lot of walking in circles up and down stairs around the set’s centerpiece, a statue of the Madonna.
So if you want to see an Opera, be wrapped up in both the music and the story and be treated to a night of fabulous performances. Then the choice is simple. Go and see Tosca at the Ordway.