Tosca triumphs at Regent

The National Opera of MoldovaIpswich Regent.TOSCA may have the more memorably honeyed> tunes, but this production exuberantly celebrated what Verdi does best – the big set piece.

By James Fraser

The National Opera of Moldova

Ipswich Regent.

TOSCA may have the more memorably honeyed> tunes, but this production exuberantly celebrated what Verdi does best – the big set piece.

The most famous by far is the haunting melody of the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, widely considered as the Italian composer's galvanising cri de coeur for his country's unification under King Vittorio Emmanuele II.

Here it was sung with the prayerful reverence that characterises psalm 138 on which it is based – 'By the Rivers of Babylon, we sat down and wept'. Boney M should take note.

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But there were some stunning arias too from an outstanding Larisa Malichi as Abigaille, the wicked stepsister who, in the best traditions of Italian opera, gratifyingly poisons herself at the end.

If La Malichi was spritely corvette, skimming all over the vocal range, Boris Materinco, who took the role of her father Nabucco presiding over the fall of the disastrous house of Babylon, was Mr Dreadnought.

His flagship bulk commanded the stage and his powerful baritone proved one of the most compelling parts of a very good production.

Two quibbles: the set seemed lavishly recreated but perhaps it was just a little too busy – one can only appreciate only so many hieroglyphics in one go. And why were the Hebrew exiles kitted out and continously lit with a subterranean blue that made them look like the people of Atlantis?

Sometimes less is more but nevertheless these are minor points. An extremely satisfying evening and I, for one, can't wait until they come back with La Traviata in the summer.

JAMES FRASER

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