November brings the opening of Monte-Carlo Opera’s 2015-16 season, and it certainly looks to be a grand one with some great performances scheduled.
The Monte-Carlo Opera 2015-16 season features music from the Baroque era right through to the 20th century, with recitals by world-class performers, productions of well-loved operas, and four which will have their Monte-Carlo premieres. The full season is available on the Monte-Carlo Opera website.
The first opera of the season is a new production of Puccini’s Tosca – by Jean-Louis Grinda, Director of Monte-Carlo Opera. Tosca hasn’t been performed in the Principality since 2006, and this production, which will be presented during the festivities celebrating Monaco’s national day, takes place under the auspices of the Fête Nationale Monegasque.
Tosca is an historical melodrama set in Rome in 1800, at a time when Napoleon’s invasion of Italy threatened Rome’s hold over the Kingdom of Naples. A story of love, lust, treachery and tragedy, Tosca – with libretto by Luigi Illica and Guiseppe Giacosa – was based on the 1887 play, La Tosca, by Victorien Sardou – in which the title role was played by Sarah Bernhardt.
The main characters in the opera are Floria Tosca – a capricious diva – her lover, the artist Mario Cavaradossi, and a ruthless police chief, Baron Scarpia, who is also in love with Tosca, and is sadistically prepared to use his authority to get his own way, even if that means torturing Cavaradossi, who helped a political prisoner, Angelotti, to escape.
Puccini’s opera premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900, and although it features some of the composer’s most beautiful and best known arias, it was apparently not particularly well received by the critics. The audiences, however, loved it – and still do to this day.
In this performance by Opera Monte-Carlo, the title role is sung by Austrian soprano Martina Serafin whose debut performance as Floria Tosca took place in Rome in a production by Franco Zefferelli. Ms Serafin has since sung the role at the Opéra Bastille in Paris; the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; the Vienna State Opera; Teatro Verdi di Salerno; Deutsche Oper, Berlin; Oper di Firenze; Teatro alla Scala, Milan; the Opéra National de Paris; Teatro dell’Opera di Roma; the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona; and the Sächsische Staatsoper in Dresden.
Mario Cavaradossi is sung by Argentinian tenor, Marcelo Álvarez, who appeared in Monte-Carlo in February this year in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, in which he was described by Sortir ici et ailleurs as a “fascinating tenor” with a “radiant” and “brilliant” voice. Following Mr Álvarez’s appearance as Cavarodossi with Oper Berlin, Operatraveller wrote that he had “brought his trademark Latin warmth of tone to Cavaradossi”, and described his performance as “certainly one of the most vocally satisfying Cavaradossis I’ve heard in a long time”. Later this season, Marcelo Álvarez will sing the role at the Opernhaus in Zürich and the Opéra National de Paris.
Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel appears as Baron Scarpia. He has performed in all the major opera houses of the world, and his appearance in this role at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, was described by The Telegraph as a “magnificently creepy, immaculately vocalized Scarpia”. The review went on to say: “As a study in the poisonous but charismatic combination of sexual allure and psychotic sadism, it can’t have been equalled since Tito Gobbi’s heyday”. According to The Express “Bryn Terfel is quite simply the best Scarpia around”. Amongst his other portrayals of Scarpia, Mr Terfel has sung the role at La Scala, Milan and the Bavarian State Opera. As a recording artist, Bryn Terfel has received two Grammys, four Classical Brits and a Gramophone Award. In 2003 he received a CBE for services to opera in the Queen’s New Year Honours list, and in 2006 was awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music.
Monte-Carlo Opera’s presentation of Tosca is a co-production with the Palau de les Arts, Valencia; Teatro Regio, Turin; and the Festival Puccini de Torre del Lago. Musical direction is by Daniel Oren, set by Isabelle Partiot-Pieri, costumes by Christian Gasc and lighting by Roberto Venturi. The Chorus Director is Stefano Visconti.
Performances take place in the Grimaldi Forum on 16th and 19th November, with a special performance on the 22nd November – by invitation of the Palace.
Tickets cost €30 and may be reserved online.
All images courtesy Opéra de Monte-Carlo; production stills © Palau de les Arts Valencia