A star is born: Freddie De Tommaso was worthy of a standing ovation for his dramatic, flourishing tenor in Tosca at the Royal Opera House
Royal Opera House, London Until February 22
A star is born. I don’t think anyone who joined in the ovation for 28-year-old Freddie De Tommaso from Tunbridge Wells, including the two Italians going mad in the row behind me, could be in any doubt that we were in at the birth of a great career.
I have to go back almost half a century for the last time I felt that way at Covent Garden.
In a production of Carmen – incidentally, an opera where De Tommaso enjoyed a triumph in Vienna recently – a young Spanish Don José and a first class New Zealand Micaela, stole the show.
Freddie de Tommaso is a genuine Italianate tenor with a dramatic ring to the voice that enables him to flourish up against the redoubtable Anna Pirozzi (above)
I had no doubt that these two were stars in the making, and Placido Domingo and Kiri Te Kanawa didn’t let me down.
Back to Freddie. It’s not a voice dripping with honey like Pavarotti or Joseph Calleja. But nor is he a built-up baritone like Jonas Kaufmann, or indeed Domingo himself.
He’s a genuine Italianate tenor, as befits his Italian heritage, with a dramatic ring to the voice that enables him to flourish up against the redoubtable Anna Pirozzi, who repeated her triumph last month as Lady Macbeth with an exceptional Tosca.
The Scarpia, Claudio Sgura cut a charismatically piratical figure, even if his voice lacks the ideal rasp.
In the role of Cavaradossi – which De Tommaso is the first British tenor to sing in almost 60 years at Covent Garden – he not only stood up well to his two experienced colleagues but flourished despite the crude, over-loud conducting of another debutante, the Ukrainian Oksana Lyniv, who did her best to drown him out in his opening aria but mercifully didn’t quite succeed.
My only concern for young Freddie is not to do too much too soon.
He’s already well established in Vienna, and as the offers pour in, as they undoubtedly will, he and his handlers need to remember the sad example of Rolando Villazón, whose voice collapsed through overuse.
By the way, Lyniv is apparently under consideration to take over from Antonio Pappano as music director of the Royal Opera. On this evidence, that’s a ludicrous proposition. Maybe in ten or 20 years, but certainly not now.