Puccini’s Tosca screened at Trafalgar Square
The final night of BP Big Screens in 2013 sees Puccini’s legendary opera relayed to over a dozen sites around the UK. For Londoners, the selected venue sees Trafalgar Square annexed, with the screen positioned behind Nelson’s Column and the designated floor area stretching back to The National Gallery, making for a regal backdrop.
However, you’d be forgiven for thinking that despite the aesthetics of the location, the practicality of it is somewhat questionable. Not so much because the Charing Cross roundabout is next-door, but rather because the layout only accommodates so many.
40 minutes before show time and the steps are naturally already rammed with spectators so that many if not most people find themselves situated around the sides where you can’t see the screen, which could easily do with being twice as big, and we can’t really hear the performance, which could do with being louder. Now, many people would consider this to be a disadvantage. But that’s not really the point of tonight.
This evening is really about enjoying the arias or the fateful consequences that befall the quixotic lovers Floria Tosca and Mario Cavaradossi, rather than the thrill of dodging rivers of spilt wine and conversing with your friends. Although, this begins to draw a few complaints for some attendees who do not share the popular view that the event is essentially an urban picnic with a soundtrack.
The first interval triggers enough of an exodus that a view of the screen opens up in time for the second act when the crux of the narrative takes place as the antagonising Baron Scarpia really enters the fray. Scott Hendricks’s baritone is suitably rich for the chief of police, but he comes across as sleazy rather than malevolent.
The tone of the third act is unarguably enhanced by the onset of darkness, but unless you’re a Tosca devotee, you’re most likely too physically cramped to care. To be fair, they do warn you to bring a pillow as three hours on concrete is testing. A shame because this nineteenth century classic has always appealed more to fans than critics, but tonight’s event is about enjoying an operatic experience in much the same way that Charlie’s Angels is about law enforcement.
Photo: ROH/Rob Moore
Tosca is at the Royal Opera House now. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Tosca (The Royal Opera) here: