Review: A ‘Tosca’ Makes Room for Two Prima Donnas

Her character, the Prima Donna, is new to the opera. So is another role, the Butler (Jean-Frédéric Lemoues, crucial and frequently present, yet almost always silent). Mr. Honoré has taken other small liberties with the libretto. After the “Tosca” recording is turned off at the start, Mr. Lemoues tells Ms. Malfitano that the company they’re expecting has arrived. (Obvious echoes, here, of “Sunset Boulevard.”) She’s reluctant, but ultimately opens her doors to greet her visitors.

They are the cast of “Tosca,” in mufti and holding copies of the score, visiting for a run-through of the opera ahead of a concert staging in the Prima Donna’s honor. Our Tosca — the soprano Angel Blue, her voice warm and golden yet immensely powerful — is unassuming in jeans, a white V-neck T-shirt and a blue hoodie. Ms. Malfitano cues the maestro (Daniele Rustioni, not always as fleet as the score demands, leading the Orchestre de l’Opéra de Lyon), and the opera proper begins.

And so “Tosca” unfolds in the Prima Donna’s living room, with her coaching the singers. A documentary crew is present as well, their footage displayed live as projections above the set. Mr. Honoré has composed some gorgeous shots for them, including one moment when Tosca and her lover, Cavaradossi (Joseph Calleja, uneven but blazing at his best), are face to face and holding hands, their bodies framing Ms. Malfitano, looking on mournfully in the distance.

Ms. Malfitano’s Prima Donna can’t, however, quite bring herself to fully encourage Ms. Blue’s Tosca; Ms. Malfitano sings the role’s opening lines, quite ably considering her age, instead of Ms. Blue, and can regularly be seen mouthing and gesturing what she would do if she were onstage. (You may well recall Callas’s famed, charged master classes at the Juilliard School and the Terrence McNally play they inspired, “Master Class.”)

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