Patricia Racette shines in Washington National Opera's 'Tosca'
Patricia Racette, an invariably compelling artist, gave an all-cylinders-firing portrayal on Monday night that combined vocal plushness, intensely committed phrasing and persuasive acting. It was the soprano's show all the way.
Her account of "Vissi d'arte," spun out with excellent breath support, was notable for the rapt phrasing at the start and the way Racette subsequently touched the heart of the matter without overplaying anything.
(Note that Natalia Uskakova is slated to sing one performance of the role, Sept. 23. The production runs through Sept. 24.)
Two tenors are alternating in the role of Cavaradossi. Gwyn Hughes Jones had the Monday slot. His voice ...
The role of Scarpia is also double-cast. Portraying the arch-villain on Monday was Scott Hendricks. When he could be heard over the orchestra, the sound lacked warmth, but the singer's phrasing was alert and vital. He also had the theatrical chops for the assignment, oozing smarm with particular effectiveness in the second act.
Valeriano Lanchas sang with a good deal of color and force as the Sacristan. Kenneth Kellogg (Angelotti) and Robert Cantrell (the Jailer) did generally sturdy work. Jegyung Yang sang sweetly as the shepherd. The chorus produced sufficient volume and vibrancy for the "Te Deum."
The orchestra sounded a little short on strings, but played with considerable passion. Presiding in the pit was Placido Domingo, WNO's former general director.
Domingo may not have kept things together tightly at every turn, but this was nonetheless one of the most satisfying performances I've heard him conduct, attentive to details of atmosphere in the score and shaping the most lyrical moments with welcome spaciousness.
The old-fashioned and just plain old-looking production gets the job done, more or less, but it doesn't scream "major opera company." Director David Kneuss puts people through their paces in mostly routine fashion; the final act, in particular, could use a flash of theatrical inspiration.
Not that I was expecting a deconstructionist staging, just something a little more visually distinctive and absorbing.
PHOTO (By Scott Suchman) COURTESY OF WNO