As is their wont the COC run of Tosca is double cast, at least as far as the principals go, and last night was the second performance for the alternate cast. Keri Alkema sang Tosca, Kamen Chakev was Cavaradossi and Craig Colclough played Scarpia. Sometimes the cast change makes a big difference, for better or worse, in the show. This time I really didn’t feel that was the case. This felt very much like the show I saw on opening night with minor differences.
Maybe Alkema’s Tosca is a bit “girlier” than Pieczonka but it’s very fine and Vissi d’arte brought the house down. If you alternated Colclough and Marquardt as Scarpia I’m not sure I’d notice. The biggest difference (and it’s still a fine one) is Chakev. He has the Italianate sound I rather missed in Puente though I think he saved most of it for the last act. In any event it made for a very fine Act 3 duet; probably the highlight of the night. So, bottom line, whichever cast one chooses to see it’s a good show.
It was a rather thin crowd though. Conventional wisdom is that standard rep in traditional productions is the easy sell and that, of course, is why the COC programs twelve Toscas versus seven Louis Riels, yet the latter is selling out and the later performances of Tosca are not, despite generally positive reviews. The Toronto audience is a tough read.
There are five performances left in the run. The Alkema cast can be seen on Monday, Thursday and Saturday next week with the Pieczonka cast singing Wednesday and Friday.
Photo credits: Michael Cooper.