Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
In a contemporary opera, an unsavory character like Scarpia, the sadistic police chief in Puccini's "Tosca," would be assigned music worthy of his nastiness. Puccini, however, seemed incapable of writing music that could, by any stretch of the imagination, by considered nasty. Dramatic, touching, tragic, angry or even agonized, certainly, but even his most unpleasant characters (and Scarpia is foremost among these) get to express their disagreeableness in the most lyrical phrases.
Louis Quilico was a marvelous Scarpia in Wednesday's Metropolitan Opera performance of "Tosca" at Wolf Trap, perhaps because he expressed his preversions so very beautifully. Of course he had a splendid foil in Gilda Cruz-Romo as Tosca, whose performance combined dignity and tragedy in equal measure. Her acting has come a long way in the last several years and her voice has developed a growing richness.
Other fine performances were turned in by Barry Morell as Cavaradossi, Allan Monk as Angelotti and Ipalo Tajo as the sacristan.
On the podium, Richard Woitach outlined the endless stream of Puccini's dramatic utterances decisively yet with discretion. His pacing with comfortably leisurely and evidently in sympathy with his singers.
Again in this opera as in the Met's "Le Prophete" of the night before, crowd scenes seemed uncomfortable. The Met chorus seems to have an unshakable urge to stand around in rows, and director Fradizio Melano, who was quite successful with the movement of the soloists, does not seem to have been able to do much about it.
But "Tosca" is not a crowd scene opera. Its effectiveness depends on three main characters and in Wednesday night's production these three were in particularly good form and, therefore, so was the opera.