Hope and optimism, sincerity and faith—it’s amazing how much can be undone by jealousy and a couple poor decisions.
That’s the lesson from Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca,” now playing at the Minnesota Opera. The Ordway Theater is a perfect venue for this grand melodrama in three acts. The set dressing, both striking and minimal, underscores the drama that propels a jealous singer, lovestruck painter, and slimy officer into a triangle of deceit that—spoiler alert—doesn’t end well for anyone.
The beautiful singer Floria Tosca finds herself in an impossible situation. Her lover, the painter Cavaradossi, has aided the escape of a political prisoner, Angelotti. Enter the malevolent chief of police, Baron Scarpia, who schemes to find Angelotti by arresting and torturing Cavaradossi for information. He then proposes to Tosca, long the object of his lust, to spare Cavaradossi’s life—if Tosca will submit to him.
Stepping into the title role is soprano Kelly Kaduce, Minnesota native and St. Olaf graduate, who starred in the Minnesota Opera’s recent production of Dvořák’s “Rusalka,” as well as having played Tosca for the Houston Grand Opera in November. She laments her predicament in the opera’s most famous aria, “Vissi d’Arte,” near the end of Act II, which Kaduce emotes with considerable aplomb.
On opening night, though, it was Leonardo Capalbo who stole the show as Cavaradossi—ably reassuring the jealous Tosca in Act I, and proving particularly heart-rending as a broken, tortured man anguished by his unfulfilled love in Act III. Puccini’s plot isn’t exactly bulletproof, but the actors obscure those holes with a full measure of passionate insistence at every turn.
The show runs a little over two-and-a-half hours, including two intermissions. The libretto is Italian, with English subtitles projected over the stage. “Tosca” runs through March 26; tickets are available here.