Tosca gets reviewed in the town times!

Tosca's Kiss Comes to Middletown and New Britain
Special to Town Times by Larry Kellum
Puccini's "TOSCA", commonly referred to in the opera world as "that shabby little shocker" shocked and rocked New Britain's Trinity-on-Main May 13 when the Conn. Lyric Opera (CLO) presented the Italian masterpiece at the historic, revamped old church. As is always the case with this company, the production will tour the state during the week and  culminate at Middletown High School's wonderful Performing Arts Center on Saturday, May 21. This opera has everything -- violence galore, hit tunes, religion, history -- and should be as well received by Middlesex County music lovers as it was by New Britain's. The cast members, all plagued during rehearsals by that nasty round of pollen allergies and head colds that invaded the state last week, should all be in full recovery.
Floria Tosca is the ultimate glamour-goddess role -- a prima donna portraying a prima donna. While it isn't the dramatic coloratura marathon that is Lady Macbeth, every soprano at some point aspires to sing it, for it contains many knockout high  C's, ravishing music, and perhaps the greatest acting challenges, physical and emotional, of any female part other than maybe Puccini's own equally popular Madame Butterfly. Rising to the daunting task was Jurate Svedaite, resident diva of CLO. She is by nature and temperment a muy simpatica lyric soprano, not the edgy spinto the role calls for. Predictably, she reveled in the lyric aspects of the part -- the tender love duets with Mario and the beautiful "Vissi d'arte" aria. What was not expected was the gutsy tigress she became onstage in her powerful confrontations with Scarpia in Act 2. Those high C's were all bullseyes, the chest voice had just the right cutting impact, she scorched and she sizzled in probably the best performance she has ever given anywhere to date, one that can only get even better with repetition.
As her evil nemesis Scarpia, audiences usually get the classic caricature villain-- a middle-aged, potbellied baritone in a white powdered wig -- an obvious turn-off to any woman. However, when he looks like Luke Scott -- tall, slender, young, handsome -- it adds an unusual sexual twist, however subtle, to the drama, and makes the Police Chief's malignancy that much more terrifying and complex. To boot, Scott has an absolutely gorgeous voice as smooth as a fine Chardonnay, one that excelled in the role's many parlando passages. Unfortunately, though, he was still suffering from his indisposition and had no choice but to let the orchestra swamp his biggest outbursts.
In this opera, the painter Mario is the center of attention -- the reason for the murderous acts committed by Tosca and Scarpia -- so a tenor of stature with an effortless top is paramount. Here John Tsotsoros came through with flying colors, managing to also sound both boyish and manly as needed. Laurentiu Rotaru was deluxe casting as Angelotti and Matthew Gamble was finally(!) a Sacristan who didnt try to be funny.
As with every Conn. Lyric production, maestro Adrian Sylveen's Conn. Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra is the orchestra of choice. Despite a couple of expected opening night kinks and missed cues along the way, Sylveen held his forces together with his usual aplomb and gave this verismo orchestration its full due.
For tickets to Middletown's performance, please call Barbara Arafeh at 860-347-4887. For more information on the big, blockbuster season that Sylveen , Svedaite and the CLO have lined up for next season (now three(!) operas, many chamber concerts), please visit or call Trinity-on-Main at 860-229-2072.