Uzbekistani tenor Mavlyanov made his Royal Opera debut tonight as Cavaradossi with no obvious show of nerves: his first aria Recondita Armonia was cool and composed, and his E lucevan le stelle in the final chapter displayed an impressive balance of tender warmth and burning passion. However, Frontali’s interpretation of the menacing Scarpia fell flat as the choral and orchestral forces were asked to save the grandeur of the Act 1 Finale, but his villainous affair with Tosca did revive his performance later on. A character of many faces, experienced soprano Echalaz embraced the melodramatic personality of Tosca in sublime fashion: from the opening jealousy-induced comedy and flirtatious dialogue with Cavaradossi to the breathtakingly poignant aria Vissi d’arte and graceful second act duets. Echalaz’s acting was as compelling as her voice, as she sealed Tosca’s tragic fate with a dignified leap from the walls of the Castel Sant’Angelo. Credit should also be given to the ROH Orchestra. Under the baton of Villaume, the orchestra provided a sensitive and equally passionate musical backdrop, from the blazing opening chords, the thunderous string unison force that marked the death of Scarpia, the graceful woodwind colours, the notable clarinet melody heartening Cavaradossi’s final act romanza and the strident forte brass in the catastrophic conclusion. The mix of rousing drama, inevitable tragedy and an opulent musical orchestration full of exquisite melodies, rich harmonies and textures left the capacity audience moved by Puccini’s operatic achievement.