TOSCA by Giacomo Puccini, directed by Denni Sayers, conducted by David Atherton, with Eszter Sümegi, Badri Maisuradze and Alain Fondary. Presented by the Canadian Opera Company at the Hummingbird Centre (1 Front East). October 2, 8 and 11 at 7:30 pm, matinee October 5 at 2 pm. $40-$160, limited $20-$25 (aged 18-29). 416-872-2262. Rating: NN Rating: NN
What's a production of Tosca without a really passionate central trio? No more than an exercise in singing. That I-might-as-well-be-listening-to-a-recording quality infuses too much of the Canadian Opera Company 's current staging of the popular Puccini work, which focuses on the triangle involving the titular opera diva ( Eszter Sümegi ), her painter boyfriend Mario ( Badri Maisuradze ) and the lustful, dangerous and politically powerful Scarpia ( Alain Fondary ).
The worst offender is Maisuradze, who studied at the stand-and-sing school of opera and whose physical expressiveness is limited to the raising and lowering of his arms.
Fondary has some nicely saturnine moments, but his large-scale acting is better suited to the silent screen than the stage. Only Sümegi manages the proper fire vocally and dramatically, but she has no one of equal power to play against.
No one's helped by designer William Orlandi 's huge, awkward flight of stairs that dominates the stage, nor by director Denni Sayers 's having characters run up and down them far too much and using stock movements whenever they interact. Thankfully, conductor David Atherton 's work with the orchestra and the often reliable singing of the principals and chorus capture the opera's melodramatic grandeur.