Review: Tosca, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

As You Like It, with Jessica Hayles centre. Picture by Keith Pattison

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Welsh National Opera can hardly be blamed for repeatedly trotting out its battle-hardened Tosca.

Michael Blakemore’s 1992 production of Puccini’s political and personal thriller is compelling in oozing sanctity even as the blood drips – and revivals help pay for more adventurous programming such as Donizetti’s Tudor trilogy, also being performed at the Mayflower this week.

Yet although Simon Philippo urges the WNO orchestra to fierce passions and seductive colouring, a suspicion arises that the religious element is diminished through familiarity.

Still, singing and individual characterisation are generally strong.

As Tosca, American soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams achieves a remarkable blend of subtle yet intense colouring in Vissi d’arte, and Gwyn Hughes Jones conjures caressing tone and phrasing in O dolci mani. Austrian Claudio Otelli makes Scarpia interestingly evil.

Another performance on Saturday.