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'Tosca' a thing of beauty at the Garde

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New London — A disappointing crowd of fewer than 250 paid customers turned out Saturday at the Garde Arts Center for a beautiful rendition of the Puccini opera "Tosca," featuring three superb Connecticut Lyric Opera soloists.

The performance concluded the group's 12th season.

Jurate Svedaite, Daniel Juarez and Andrew Potter all shone in the love-triangle melodrama that artistic director Adrian Sylveen played to the hilt, earning a standing ovation from the sparse crowd. Sylveen doubles as the conductor of the 25-piece Connecticut Virtuosi Orchestra, which never fails to impress with its passionate and emphatic playing.

But it is of course the voices that carry the show, and soprano Svedaite as Tosca was a constant delight, whether her delivery called for a near-screech or a light and velvety touch. Her ability to sing with such control even in sections calling for large fluctuations in dynamics and pitch is a testament to her artistic training.

Singing beneath English supertitles of the Italian libretto, the two main men of the night more than held their own on the spare but well-thought-out set.

Baritone Potter as Scarpia swaggered about as the villain, relishing the mental torture he put Tosca through in his menacing aria that translates as "Yes, they say I am venal." His voice is perfect for the villain role, and he used his tall, lanky frame to full advantage in the seduction scene.

Tenor  Juarez as Tosca's lover Cavaradossi turned in some bravura singing, particularly in his opening love song, "Recondita armonia," and his final duet with Tosca, which includes the Italian words that translate as "In harmonious flight the soul is redeemed by the ecstasies of love." Juarez has a supple voice with a fullness not always heard among tenors on the opera stage.

While the ecstasies of love, as always, do not necessarily lead to a happy opera ending, the audience Saturday night surely felt its appetite for staged singing sated by the Connecticut Lyric Opera and its highly skilled orchestra. The only disappointment was that more people did not get to see an extraordinary performance of some of Puccini's most beautiful music.



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