Latonia Moore makes blazing WNO debut in second-cast “Tosca”

Mon May 13, 2019 at 10:23 am

Latonia Moore sang the role of “Tosca” Sunday at Washington National Opera. Photo: Scott Suchman

Washington National Opera’s production of Puccini’s Tosca opened on Saturday night. On Sunday afternoon two singers were featured in an alternate cast in the first of two matinees in the Kennedy Center Opera House.

Soprano Latonia Moore brought sensational vocalism to her company debut in the title role. She displayed extraordinary power and confidence on top notes and in Tosca’s signature aria, “Vissi d’arte,” marshaled a range of creamy soft singing and dramatic phrasing.  Her movement on stage though was stilted and inelegant, and her leap from the parapet almost hesitant.

The other WNO debut, Robert Watson’s Cavaradossi, was strong up to and including a gloomy and heroic “E lucevan le stelle” in the third act. He nailed high notes with panache, although in complex passages he lost the beat several times, requiring the skillful conductor Speranza Scappucci to scramble for control. In the final duet with Tosca, Watson’s top gave out a couple times, but he recovered his vocal poise in the unaccompanied conclusion.

Alan Held as Scarpia was the only principal who sang with the main cast the night before. On Sunday his voice sounded gravelly and worn for a villainous character that needed power and vitriol.

A note of praise for the outstanding treble Aidan Stanton-Brand, last heard in a fine solo outing with the Washington Chorus. He sang the dawn aria of the Shepherd Boy with impeccable intonation and charming simplicity. Kudos to director Ethan McSweeny for casting a boy in this role, following Puccini’s wishes.

Tosca runs through May 25. Latonia Moore and Robert Watson sing their roles again 2 p.m. May 19.; 202-467-4600

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