Now creaking after 18 years, Welsh National Opera’s production of Tosca, when sung and conducted as disappointingly as we heard on Wednesday, does Puccini no favours.
Instead of relishing musical and dramatic values, our attention wanders instead to the central character, and the realisation of what a tiresome, petty, jealous, morally-confused (she worships the Madonna, but can’t wait to spend the night with her lover) woman she is, and wondering why the self-possessed and noble Cavaradossi hadn’t kicked her into touch ages ago.
Once those thoughts arise, the drama goes nowhere, and could not be redeemed here – especially after the noisy, lurid conducting of what we know is a magnificent opening, under music director Lothar Koenigs.
Naomi Harvey and Geraint Dodd had excellent stage-presence as Tosca and Cavaradossi, despite occasionally bumpy and raspy singing, and Robert Hayward made a convincing Scarpia, if more psychotic and less chillingingly self-controlled than we normally see in this evil Chief of Police.
But most bizarre is the way these brilliant set-designs, so impressive in the past, this time seemed to make the Hippodrome stage seem cramped and mean – the huge, capacious Hippodrome?