Hurry - Tosca
The moving Tosca of the Lille Opera
Through Stephane Lelièvre
Rather than opting for a simple concert version, the Lille Opera chose to entrust to Olivier Fredj a covido-compatible staging, which the director has accomplished in a time and with means that we imagine limited, for a coherent and convincing result.
In his vision of the work, transposed to the 20th or 21st century but without reference to a precise historical context, Scarpia appears as much more than a simple police chief. We can easily imagine him haranguing crowds, which the platform and the microphone would suggest placed in front of empty chairs in the second act - and especially the projection of texts signed by his hand, trying to win the people to a totalitarian ideology and deadly, and that a final formula ("Virtù e merito") inscribed in the lineage of Mussolini's ideology.
The show begins with the performance, at dawn, of Palmieri (character evoked by Scarpia and Spoletta in the second act) to the applause of the crowd, and ends as it should with the double death of Tosca and Mario, 24 hours later. The recurring appearance, in the background of the stage, of the time at which events are supposed to take place is justified, insofar as it helps to enclose the action in a suffocating unit of time, during which will not be committed. less than five murders. The setting in space, tightened on the scenic play of the singers (all of them excellent actors), allows the perfectly oiled mechanics of the drama imagined by Sardou, Illica and Giacosa to set the nets of the trap which will lead the protagonists relentlessly to their destruction.
The Armenian baritone Gevorg Hakobyan offers Scarpia a portrait based on innuendo and psychological torture more than on explicit violence: it is all the more chilling.
Only a few guests were present in the room (including the mayor of the city and Jean-Claude Casadesus) and a handful of journalists: the unexpected extent of the bravos at the final curtain testifies to the quality of the show and the great emotion that he aroused. A show to discover on the Youtube channel of the Lille Opera!
Olivier Fredj was credited as the director of a mise-en-espace, but what Fredj gave us was so much more than that. This was a fully lived in staging, using some minimal props and the full depth and width of the stage to create an evening of exciting theater. The evening opened with shots of the chorus taking their distanced seats in the balcony and a man being actually shot in an execution on stage. In doing so, Fredj immediately established the idea of a Scarpia-supporting crowd watching the action. While we didn't get a full portrait of the Attavanti as the Madonna, we did have Cavaradossi's sketch pad upon which he drew her.
Even within the limited environment, Fredj created some memorable stage pictures, not least in Act 3 with spotlights ranged along the stage, reinforcing the idea of Cavaradossi's 'fake' execution, and while there was no leap from the battlements, what Fredj gave us was equally convincing, leaving us with a sense that all that happened to the three protagonists was completely inevitable. It helped also that he had a pair of highly charismatic lovers in Joyce El-Khoury and Jonathan Tetelman. There was a genuine chemistry between them - particularly in the way that Tetelman's Cavaradossi whispered instructions to El-Khoury's Tosca not to betray him in Act 2, or Tetelman's visible disbelief that the execution was fake but his desperation to give Tosca some comfort in the moment . Given the sanitary restrictions that made this production necessary, Fredj has made so much of little and given us an evening of high drama and gripping theater.
Through Camille De Rijck |
There are evenings like this where the opera seems simple: take good singers, a fit orchestra, a lively conductor, a dignified and sober setting and was it not the hall of three -Quarter empty due to Coronavirus, the experience would be exquisite. The staging of Olivier Fredj, planned for video capture is a model of its kind: it is traditional without being didascalic, it is modern without being abrasive and in this large empty stage it concentrates on the direction of actors in an elegant device.
The brutality of the action and the political dimension are underlined by the means of an explicitly heavy and black atmosphere, putting forward the secret police of Scarpia under the orders of the monarchical power and the internal struggles which emerge after the ephemeral Republic. Roman.
It is at Olivier Fredj that falls the responsibility of a setting in space, after its diptych of belcanto The King and His Favorite / The Queen and Her Favorite at the Monnaie de Bruxelles last March. The excess of frills does not suit Tosca, on the other hand, it takes a concern for the effectiveness of the drama. There, everything is there, in costumes, by looks, with chairs lit with unreal rays between life and death. The relentless race of time in the face of events - characteristic of the play - results in the display of a timetable at each stage. The death of Scarpia and the shooting of Cavaradossi are two of them and two highlights of which the Choir of the Lille Opera, installed in a basket like spectators in performance, does not miss a beat. The show should also be revealed in a different light during its digital broadcast, edited as in the cinema and without an intermission. This theatrical language of the essential, mixed with the incredible synthetic substance of music, is sure to work!
By Fantine Douilly
The needs of capture coupled with those of sanitary distancing justify a very particular room configuration with an orchestra coming out of its pit to occupy the floor, and the Choir of the Lille Opera on the balcony. This arrangement is as much a health advantage, an acoustic diffusion and spatialization as the contribution of an immersive dimension to certain scenes. The Te Deum closing Act I with the thundering horns at the height of the hall is thus of the most striking effect and transforms the wall of the pit to be crossed traditionally into a sound universe reinforcing the lyrical projections.
Unable to adapt the staging of Robert Carsen initially planned, the staging amounts to Olivier Fredj who knew how to cope with the constraints. The entire room becomes the place of action by offering a stripped-down universe, translating the staging of power offered by the libretto (religious rites, balance of power and execution). The strength of this proposal is to offer a larger space of expression to the artists by giving pride of place to bodily engagement even in its most subtle manifestations (games of glances, muscular tensions). The viewer will also appreciate the work of highlighting Nathalie Perrier “Facing the nudity of a theater set defined in space as in emotion by the lights” (contextualize Olivier Fredj ). Subtle and constantly negotiated, they are enough to transport from the Château Saint Ange to the semi-darkness of the jail where Mario lives his last moments.
through Gilles Charlassier
If the constraints of the epidemic can be seen in the adaptation of the pit, moved to the pit to leave the musicians the space necessary for the protocols, they can also be read in the scenic show. Since Robert Carsen's production cannot be presented with the current restrictions, Caroline Sonrier and the Lille Opera have entrusted Olivier Fredj with a new staging. With the complicity of the very cinematographic lights of Nathalie Perrier, the Frenchman takes advantage of the nudity of the stage, barely furnished with a few chairs to symbolize a corner of a church nave or the apartments of Scarpia, and a few video projections - we will remember essentially the face of Tosca which, in black and white, punctuates the drama, in particular at each end of the act. The distribution of the choirs on the first balcony overflows the stage from its frame and accentuates the theatricality of their interventions, in the air of crowd commentary - almost a device of Passion. The texts on the curtain are given like lines taken from Scarpia's memoirs, be they posthumous or apocryphal, and deliver the point of view of the sadistic baron, by explaining certain tragic ellipses, like the execution of Count Palmieri , allegedly simulated when it was live ammunition, as later, that of Cavaradossi. The digital clock reproduced at each start of the sequence underlines a unit of time in emergency mode. As for the knot with which Tosca hangs himself at the end, it refers to the ordeal that was to be that of Mario Cavaradossi - before Scarpia preferred the ambiguity of the shooting. In short, cinematographic minimalism does not preclude a few dramaturgical comments, sometimes welcome, for the neophyte first.