A first night with mixed reactions
Back in 2013, the Canadian baritone Gerald Finley said in an interview, ‘if there is a Scarpia out there somewhere I’d be happy to do that.’ Come four years later and he is doing exactly that. On Monday night at the Royal Opera House, his Scarpia had long hair, a burnished rich vocal tone and menacing demeanour in Jonathan Kent’s ninth revival of Puccini’s Tosca. For a first-timer, Finley gave a distinctively refreshing portrayal of Scarpia that I shan’t forget.
The production began 12 years ago with set designs based on the Napoleonic era. I’ve seen it twice before and this version is my favourite. This is mainly due to the tremendous cast, which includes Finley, his fellow Canadian Adrianne Pieczonka and Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja. These international artists have a huge following and if it wasn’t for their sensational voices and breadth of experience, I probably wouldn’t have bothered seeing the production at all.