Jonathan Kent’s production, first seen in 2006, adds impressive set design and some sublimely intelligent touches to the acting, and this time we had another treat: the Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu in the title role, showing that at 56, she is still a marvellous performer. The power of her singing may be less than in her years as the most compelling soprano of her generation, but her performance still fully merited the cheers the audience gave her.
Tosca must surely feature the most highly-charged love triangle ever: The singer Tosca and the painter Cavaradossi are in love, but the evil police chief Scarpia wants Tosca for himself. He seizes his chance when he suspects Cavaradossi of aiding an escaped political prisoner.
He arrests and tortures the painter, letting Tosca hear her lover’s screams.
He’ll stop the torture only if Tosca reveals the escapee’s whereabouts.
When she does so, he sentences Cavaradossi to death, but says he will free him if Tosca gives in to his lustful demands.
And they all die unhappily ever after, but only after the audience have seen three excellent performances.
Many in the audience must have come to pay tribute to Angela Gheorghiu, but as a considerable bonus we were also treated to very impressive performances in the other two leading roles.
The tenor Stefan Pop, like Gheorghiu also a Romanian, sang beautifully.
He showed great power in his solo arias, but matched Gheorghiu for tenderness in their duets, which were glorious to listen to.
Meanwhile, German baritone Michael Volle seethed with venom as Scarpia, fully earning great applause mixed with some good-natured pantomime booing from the audience at the end.
Once again, the ROH had treated us all to a great evening.
Tickets and information: roh.org.uk or 020 7304 4000 (various dates until 22 February)