The Telegraph, 16 May 2008
Rupert Christiansen
Puccini: Tosca, London, ROH, 12 May 2008
Opera review: Tosca
Jonathan Kent's 2006 production of Tosca returns to Covent Garden looking distinctly stronger than it did on its first dreadful revival last summer.

Less wobbling scenery, better stage management and more focused lighting helped, but it was the arresting performances of Jonas Kaufmann as Cavaradossi and Paolo Gavanelli as Scarpia that lifted the bar.

Kaufmann combines a firm, even tenor, rich in the middle and resonant at the top, with great musical intelligence and a dashingly Byronic stage presence.

He can do heroic, and he can do romantic: his cry of "Vittoria" in Act 2 sent shivers down my spine, and his phrasing of "E lucevan le stelle" was wonderfully sensitive. He is without doubt the most persuasive Cavaradossi since Domingo's heyday.

Gavanelli makes an insidiously vile Scarpia, quietly sadistic but utterly ruthless in pursuit of his perverted appetite. If only he had been up against a rather more subtle Tosca than Micaela Carosi, an old-school Italian diva with a line in traffic-cop gestures and a sizeable and effective but rough-edged dramatic soprano which paid little heed to the nuances of the text.

Excellent cameos from Hubert Francis (Spoletta) and Kostas Smoriginas (Angelotti) made positive contributions to the proceedings, and Antonio Pappano's conducting had a galvanising influence overall.

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