Article 1: Diaz And The Devil By Perry Tannenbaum. In:
Creative Loafing (March 2000)
Article 3: A legendary baritone's return to Connecticut. In: Yawanna (January 1, 2001)
Article 4: Justino Diaz Mozart Arias By Roland Graeme. In: Opera Quarterly. - Vol.7 (1990);
Article 5: Justino Diaz by Erik Myers. In Opera News Vol.70, Issue 9 (2006); p14-16 [New]
Good guy Justino Diaz
drips with evil in 'Tosca' role
By Lawrence B. Johnson
The Detroit News (May 4, 2000)
In the pantheon
of opera's evil characters, none looms darker than Scarpia, the chief of
police and cold-hearted knave of Puccini's Tosca.
For the veteran baritone, Justino Diaz, who has portrayed Scarpia more times than he can count ("I lost track around 250"), re-creating the part for the Michigan Opera Theatre production that opens Saturday only fans a passion that has never stopped burning.
"Every time that music gets inside you, even in rehearsals, you feel its power again," he says during a break in preparations at the Detroit Opera House. "In rehearsal, I can mark (understate) the voice, but not the intensity, the emotion."
"Jose Ferrer, a wonderful actor and great opera fan who was also from Puerto Rico, once told me, You get to do the perfect role. I would kill to be able to sing Scarpia." It is indeed a juicy role, and it's a lot of fun to do".
Even, he insists, after doing it a few hundred times.
"The part of Scarpia is so well written dramatically," Diaz explains. "He's a true villain, but the music and the character give you opportunity to be subtle, and that's the challenge." "Tito Gobbi (another great Scarpia) used to say it takes a good guy to play a villain, because you have to be able to create a facade of goodness to put it across."
Despite its unflagging popularity, Tosca has occasionally been discounted by opera scholars and critics as a cheap and ponderous melodrama. But Diaz comes quickly to its defense.
"This opera is a true work of genius," he says." Puccini uses leitmotifs (thematic reference points) with great skill, and he colors the characters brilliantly. In the original play, Tosca was a much wilder character, more in-your-face. Puccini made her softer, so there's really a greater shock when she murders Scarpia"
Diaz also expresses deep enthusiasm for the Michigan Opera Theatre staging concept of director Mario Corradi, noting that Puccini's lurid murder scene gets a twist in the present production.
"Mario departs from the printed stage directions," he says. "But in this case the departure is just as valid musically as the original."