Saturday, 23 July 2011

A little bit of Finnish goes a long way: Karita Mattila as Tosca

Karita Mattila, the Finnish soprano
Photo credit: Lauri Eriksson
Courtesy Warner Classics International
On Wednesday Daughter, the Englishman and I went to see a Met production of Tosca at The Everyman Cinema here in Hampstead. It was a recording of a new production of Tosca by Luc Bondy with the Finnish soprano Karita Mattila in the title role.

This new production, which replaced Zeffirelli's 20-year-old version of Tosca, was deemed so bad on its first night in 2009 it 'made the evening news' in New York (The New Yorker), mainly due to the uncharacteristically fervent booing by the well-heeled opera crowd. For me, however, seeing any production of Tosca is a bonus. True, it wasn't Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi; true the costumes and set were a little simpler and rather dull. But the tenor, Marcelo Alvarez, as Cavaradossi, sounded very pleasing to my ear at least. As usual I was in tears during the first aria by Alvarez, and when Mattila sang Vissi d'arte in the 2nd act, I was on my 2nd hankie.

In the cinema broadcast we were taken behind the scenes during the two intervals. At first I gasped in horror at the interview with George Gagnidze. I didn't want to see the villain of the opera, Scarpia, smiling and laughing mid-performance - as it were. But when during the last interval Karita Mattila spoke, I was thrilled. Especially when she asked the interviewee if she could say a few words in Finnish.

Karita Mattila and Marcelo Alvarez. Photo The Guardian 
Humble as a young soprano during her first performance (rather than her umpteenth at the Met alone) she thanked her Finnish fans and said that she was singing especially for all of us in her native Finland. (Ignoring the fact that I was in fact in London, I still felt she meant me and Daughter too).

Daughter and I clapped, silly really since we both knew it was a recording made some three years ago...still it was a pleasant surprise.

PS. Something seems to have with the fonts...apologies.

1 comment:

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Unbelievably I've never been to the opera. This post makes me want to give it a go xx