|Wie Song, Warren Mok and Dai Yuqiang as the three Cavaradossi|
The diversion stunted a beautiful but otherwise conventional staging by director, set and lighting designer Enrico Castiglione's production which harks from the Taormina Opera Festival. Vivid colours, evocative architectural elements and ornate detailing formed a powerful backdrop. Sonia Cammarata's refined costumes shimmered but lacked the worn realism of French-occupied 1800 Rome. Castiglione's lighting charged the drama thoughtfully but sudden and inexplicable extreme lighting shifts snapped one's attention from the performances. Tensions existed in the visual whole.
|He Hui and Warren Mok|
China's Three Tenors supported Hui well as a curiously clean-of-paint and distinguished Cavaradossi. The shift from one to the next in itself was handled well by all, but the opportunity to engage in one artist's vocal and dramatic progression through the opera felt encumbered. Wei Song's early forced attack settled to reveal resonant warmth and appealing vibrato. Warren Mok's leaner, simmering but brighter tone pleasingly matched Cavaradossi's resistance to torture and Dai Yuqiang's grounded, fullness of sound carried inbuilt determination. All three demonstrated flair in driving home all the big notes.
Sebastion Catana's wide experience in the role of Scarpia showed impeccably. Full of heaving weight and ferocity, the voice was sharpened with all the evil of Hell. Other fine performances were given by Freddie Tong as the agitated escapee Angelotti, Sammy Chien as a doddery, bent-over Sacristan and Chen Yong's especially impressive and aggressive Spoletta.
|Opera Hong Kong's Tosca: Act I, Te Deum|
Opera Hong Kong is capable of achieving the highest standards through seriously insightful productions and without resorting to gimmicks. Two recent productions, Faust and The Flying Dutchman, soared in excellence across all criteria. This was a faux pas. When China's Three Tenors want to sing together, it would be best to keep them apart from the same role in the same opera. Thank goodness there was the sense to have in-between performances presented in a typical, intended manner.
Production photos: Opera Hong Kong