Letter to the Editor - May 24, 2018
WORLD-CLASS OPERA FOR CHARLESTON!
Let us all take note of the extraordinary event that took place at the Gaillard on May 5. Puccini’s grand opera “Tosca” was presented featuring an all-Metropolitan principal cast combined with accomplished Charleston artists.
The production was a collaboration between Daniel Island Performing Arts Center (DIPAC), the Charleston Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and endorsed by The City of Charleston. This version of “Tosca” was the second such production undertaken by Impressario Scott Flaherty who brought us “Carmen” with Denyce Graves a few years ago.
Yes!!! Bring it on…Charleston audiences are ready to support this, as “Tosca” patrons demonstrated by flocking down the aisles towards the stage in a wave of emotion and excitement after the performance, the likes of which I haven’t seen since Spanish tenor Jose Carreras made his return to the operatic stage after recovering from leukemia.
This production demonstrated DIPAC’s stated objective to create world class locally produced shows, combining well known artists with accomplished local artists, thus fostering the development of local talent and bringing visibility to local arts organizations.
This “Tosca” focused squarely on the music and the singers, bypassing ornate sets with svelte and elegant minimalism. Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs turned in a moving portrayal of a tempestuous diva matched with exquisite vocalism, from the soaring lyrical lines of “Vissi D’Arte” to the final pianissimo. The audience rewarded her with a lengthy ovation. She was recently heard as Tosca in the Metropolitan Opera’s broadcast.
Mark Delavan, who portrayed Baron Scarpia, has bowed in every major opera house in the world and turned in a delectably villainous, masterfully sung performance. Tenor Dmitri Pittas, a laser-voiced Cavaradossi, is also a Metropolitan artist who currently makes his home in Charleston. He brought down the house with his powerful rendition of “E Lucevan le Stelle.” The role of The Sacristan, sung by Stefan Szkafarowsky, was singular; a wonderful singer and delightfully comic actor. He brought to mind the great basso buffo, Italo Tajo who made this role a specialty. Several of the comprimari artists hale from Charleston.
David Templeton, a golden-voiced Angelotti, is a professor of voice at The College of Charleston. Others are all at the beginning of promising soloist careers and provided luxury casting in supporting roles - notably, Nathan Matticks (Sciarrone), Jenna Flaherty (Shepherd Boy), Dan Megli, (The Jailer). Stentorian-voiced Michael Boley (Spoletta), from Raleigh, North Carolina, recently made his Charleston debut as Pinkerton in the South of Broadway Theatre Company production of “Madama Butterfly, The Untold Story.”
Maestro Michael Rechiutti made conducting Puccini look easy, even with his back to the singers throughout the performance, he provided seemingly effortless support for the singers and under his baton the CSO sounded marvelous.
And let’s not forget the adult and children’s chorus, which sported a great many wonderful local voices each deserving solos in their own rights. I can’t remember when I’ve heard more impressively sung opera choruses. Yes! Please, Mr. Flaherty, may we have some more?
Daniel Island Performing Arts Center, founder
South of Broadway Theatre Company, founder and producer