Review: Tosca at The Lowry is “full of electrifying performances, and turbocharged with emotion”

Opera North deliver a barnstorming performance of Puccini's classic opera Tosca at The Lowry on Thursday.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Tosca is a three-act Italian opera by Giacomo Puccini, first performed in Rome in 1900.

Set in Rome in 1800, the opera tells the tragic story of the singer Floria Tosca, her lover, the painter Mario Cavaradossi, and the corrupt chief of police, Baron Scarpia.

Giselle Allen gives an electrifying performance as Tosca, a voice fuelled with raw emotion and power turbocharging a fantastic performance of the classic opera.

Robert Hayward is the perfect evil foil to the lovers and will have you booing at the end despite a brilliant performance as the corrupt police chief, Baron Scarpia.

The first act opens in the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, where Cavaradossi is working on a painting of Mary Magdalene.

Tosca enters and, consumed by jealousy, becomes suspicious of Cavaradossi’s relationship with a woman in the painting.

The couple’s love duet is interrupted by the arrival of Scarpia, who is in pursuit of an escaped political prisoner. After discovering that Cavaradossi has helped the prisoner, Scarpia vows to use Tosca’s love for the painter as leverage to get what he wants.

The intense, powerful relationship between Tosca and Cavaradossi is beautifully portrayed by Giselle Allen and Mykhailo Malafii, and their camaraderie and electric relationship makes this an irresistible watch.

All three leads are undeniably, brilliant.

Most of the opera takes place under Cavaradossi’s dome artwork, with smoke and spotlights creating a dense, claustrophobic and brooding atmosphere on the set.

Intense lighting shifts augment the drama of the closure of the first act, and are masterfully controlled throughout.

In the second act, Scarpia has arranged for Cavaradossi to be tortured to reveal the whereabouts of the prisoner.

Tosca, desperate to save her lover, agrees to Scarpia’s proposition that she give herself to him in exchange for Cavaradossi’s freedom. As Scarpia tries to force himself on her, Tosca stabs him to death.

The denouement is tense,  set underneath the painter’s dome, with clever use of lighting and smoke to create a beautiful, melancholic, ending to the Opera.

The final act takes place in the Castel Sant’Angelo, where Cavaradossi is to be executed. Tosca arrives to tell him that she has secured his release and that they can flee together. But as they are about to leave, Cavaradossi is shot and killed by the firing squad. Tosca, realizing that Scarpia had betrayed her and that there is no escape, jumps to her death from the castle walls.

The beauty of the Opera is augmented by the dramatic score, conducted by Garry Walker and performed by the highly skilled Orchestra of Opera North.

Featuring  wonderful arias such as “Vissi d’arte” and “E lucevan le stelle,” the soundtrack brings life to the drama in the Opera.

The work to this day remains one of Puccini’s most popular works, and with talented crews like Opera North putting out performances like this, there’s no reason why that won’t continue for years to come.


Read more

Got a story worth sharing?

What’s the story? We are all ears when it comes to positive news and inspiring stories. You can send story ideas to [email protected]

Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience.


This week