Mopoke Theatre Productions reimagines Puccini’s Tosca, a tale of love, deception and tragedy for the Adelaide Fringe.
Directed by Nicholas Cannon with the accompaniment of pianist, Andrew Georg, this iteration of Puccini’s dramatic opera tells the story of the eponymous Tosca (Joanna McWaters) and her lover, painter Cavaradossi (Joshua Rowe) as they struggle against the political and social turmoil of Napoleonic invasion in 19th century Rome. There is torture, betrayal and redemption, all set to the soundtrack of Puccini’s best-known masterpiece.
Less theatrical than a traditional opera, Cannon’s production relies on minimal set-pieces and costumes. But the heart and soul of this melodrama lies within its performers, with McWaters and Rowe exuding a passion barely contained by the small stage at the Clayton Wesley Uniting Church. The two create a dynamic chemistry between their respective characters, effortlessly invoking their jealousy, rage and adoration with searing baritone and soprano tones. The ensemble behind the main cast are essential to the uneasy atmosphere of Tosca and Cavaradossi’s love affair, with standout performances from the menacing Baron Scarpia (Joshua Rowe) and morally abject convict, Angelotti played by Daniel Goodburn.
There is always a risk incurred when bringing the bombastic nature of opera to a small stage. Though the production is often successful in conveying the heavy emotions of the story to the audience, some moments do demand the scale of a grand stage to be properly convincing and effective.
A unique addition to this year’s Fringe Festival, Tosca is an worthy choice for lovers of contemporary and traditional opera. With outstanding performances and direction, the production delivers an exciting, yet familiar take on the old tales of love and virtue.
This is a review of the Thursday, February 21st show. Tosca continues at Clayton Wesley Uniting Church at The Spire Community for one last show on Saturday the 23rd of February.
Tosca was performed at the Clayton Wesley Uniting Church on Thursday, February 21
Saturday, February 23
Clayton Wesley Uniting Church