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DRAMATURGYMark Schachtsiek
LIGHTDieter Göcke
CHOIRThomas Eitler-de Lint, Elena Beer
VIDEOJohannes Kulz
EXTRASStaatstheaters Darmstadt
WITH:Izabela Matula
Mickael Spadaccini
Krzysztof Szumanski
Nicolas Legoux
Thomas Mehnert
Peter Morrison
David Pichlmaier
Minseok Kim
Wiktor Czerniawski
Oleksandr Prytolyuk
Niklas Pfeiffer
Photos: Stephan Ernst

“In Eva-Maria Höckmayr’s production, the Staatstheater Darmstadt offers an astonishing and in a very simple way, plausible reading of Puccini’s opera.

Höckmayr develops – more nimbly and easily than it sounds written down – an environment in which the dramatic and the artificial equally have their place, the intense, sensual experience and the unreal that always resonates. Höckmayr narrates Tosca’s nightmare. (…) This all remains quite unobtrusive, but gives Höckmayr the freedom to proceed in a manner that is as classical as it is detached. (…) Tosca sings a number and lives through a tragedy at the same time, that is exactly what Puccini wants us to hear, and Höckmayr is able to show us. (…) In fact, the Darmstadters work out such a plausible and also gripping version that it won’t be easy to settle for less – less ambiguity, less tension – again.”

Frankfurter Rundschau, Judith von Sternburg, 5.12.2016

“…the grandiose power of imagery that Höckmayr’s direction unleashes speaks for itself. The dream world hallucinated by the Tosca actress unfolds in its cruel beauty an almost beguiling violence: blood-red angels without faces appearing behind the demonic police chief Scarpia and his black-clad henchmen let the “Te Deum” scene slide into the nightmarish. In the night-black Palazzo Farnese, the stage floor rotates like an inescapable merry-go-round. A candle-decked table passes by where Tosca’s torturer takes his last meal, followed by brutal scenes of torture. The platform of Castel Sant’Angelo, shrouded in morning mist, is also breathtaking. The scene of the alleged mock execution with its raw backdrops visible from behind, whose artistically painted fronts are only revealed in the course of the scene through the revolving stage, reflects the contradiction of beautiful (stage) appearance and gruesome reality. (…) “

Opera World February 2017, Silvia Adler

“Director Eva-Maria Höckmayr, who last year took an intelligently psychological look at the damaged people in “Freischütz”, has devised a concept for Puccini’s “Tosca” that is focused on the title character and yet arranged in such a multi-layered way that there is always something to discover. Every scene attests to the urgency of this story of a woman who tries in vain to escape into art and yet fails in the face of cruel reality. There are at least three reasons why Höckmayr’s well-crafted idea turns into two and a half gripping hours of audience acclaim. There is the precision of the character drawing, from which the director derives not only a clear narrative but also emotional density. There is the astonishing stage presence of soprano Izabela Matula: this highly concentrated actress takes the audience along Tosca’s path, which in places reaches the tension of a psychological thriller. (…) The last scene is a wall show; what happens, the audience learns only through Tosca’s narration. Then the woman who had been on stage all evening suddenly disappears, and people rushing over look up as if searching for the suicide: Tosca’s death is rarely told in theatre in such a simple yet disturbing way.”

Echo, Johannes Breckner, 4.12.2016

“With bated breath the Darmstadt premiere audience follows how director Eva-Maria Höckmayr and Julia Rösler, responsible for stage and costumes, forcefully, intelligently and grippingly bundle three projection surfaces in the title role and main character Tosca, in order to directly and unembellished turn outwards what Puccini clothed in painfully beautiful music. They show the opera on the opera stage, they show the emotional world of the prima donna in love and they depict what is going on in her world of thoughts. (…) Höckmayr succeeds in directing the characters in this outward movement, exposing them in a multi-layered and haunting way, even in short sequences. In her sharpening of the respective characters, two levels of perception flow together, the role itself and the person who perceives Tosca in this role. (…) All this leads to the fact that the audience, spellbound by the events, unconditionally follows Tosca’s path, experiences the mass scenes of faceless demons in black and devil-red angelic garb, powerfully intoned by the children’s choir and the opera choir, as intensely threatening, the applause come after silence yet persistently at the end of this psychodrama. All involved succeeded in putting on a magnificent production.”

Opernnetz, Christiane Franke, December 2016

“Eva-Maria Höckmayr brings this world of dream and reality to life by leaving the main character (Izabela Matula) on stage almost throughout, even in scenes without her participation In these other scenes, she hovers around the actors like a ghost in a bloody dress, searching for an interpretation of the events. The very first scene points to the end, as she stands before the bleeding corpse of Cavaradossi, whom she has just embraced as a dying man. One could also interpret it in such a way that the entire plot is ultimately only a review of the events that took place in her head during her suicidal leap from Castel Sant’Angelo. Another interpretation – the director allows all possibilities here – sees Tosca as the opera singer who suddenly experiences in her own life what she is currently playing in the opera “Tosca”. Tosca plays “Tosca” – (…) The audience showed its gratitude for this memorable opera evening through long-lasting, more than strong applause and even went over to standing ovations at the end.”

Ego Trip, Frank Raudszus, 4.12.2016

“Tosca is always present: marked by violence, brightly lit, even when she is only watching the drama take its course. In the first act, whose location Julia Rösler shifts to St. Peter’s Basilica with cleverly shifted perspective, the curtain occasionally lowers for her performances – the theatre church becomes church theatre, and when a delightful crowd of altar boys enters, theatre church again. (…) An opulent evening, rich in imagery and a success with the audience, as the unanimous applause showed.”

Frankfurter Neue Presse, Andreas Bomba, 6.12.2016

“Well-deserved bravos especially for tenor Mickael Spadaccini and Polish soprano Izabela Matula in the title role, who fully convinced the otherwise rather critical Darmstadt opera audience this evening.”

Curtain up, Sandra Russo, December 2016

“Rightly so, because Eva-Maria Höckmayr has presented us with a clever and stringent staging of this already all too familiar material. (…) The audience is still streaming to the seats, there is a view of the stage and of course the image immediately suggests the church in which the opera is set. But we also see a woman in a white, blood-stained dress and a dead man on the floor – the end, so to speak. Again and again she circles this, and in parallel the stage set with its various prosceniums shifts, the music starts and the action begins with the living Mario Cavaradossi. This woman – Flora Tosca- is a veritable diva, great are her feelings, great are her demands, great is her longing to be the only woman in her lover’s life. She is – invisible to her fellow actors – always on the stage that is made for her, her stage. Curtains – whether prospectus or real curtain – are lowered and raised again, dividing the space, creating hiding places and thus also the place for distrust, jealousy and discord, driving the action alongside the music.”

IOCO, L.Herrmann, 2.12.2016