The Israeli Opera Puccini: Tosca The Opera House Tel Aviv April 22 There probably are people who like films screened on the back of the stage, as was done in Puccini's Tosca, directed and designed by Hugo de Ana, at the Israeli Opera. Others find this practice irritating and annoying. When one had eventually become accustomed to the nuisance, the performance was over. To really enjoy a good murder scene, the audience would prefer something less simplistically obvious than that of Scarpia and Tosca that would leave at least something to the imagination. And a credible suicide, such as Tosca's, should be less theatrical, without pathetically outstretched arms, as in the not-so-good old days. Best in this performance were the singers and the orchestra. In the title role, Hui He's clear, bright soprano was a pure joy to hear. Her aria in Act Two was the opera's highlight. Her genuine emotional expression was profoundly moving in her piano passages, soft and caressing even on the highest notes, perhaps even more than in her strong, dramatic ones. As Cavaradossi, Pierro Giuliacci was a worthy partner. His appealing lyric tenor made him a convincing lover, and his prolonged dwelling on long notes until their natural diminuendo, without pushing onward and without clipping prematurely, was an accomplishment of real vocal artistry. Alberto Mastromarino, as Scarpia, sounded intense in his demands of Tosca, but his baritone was not dark and forceful enough for impersonating the ultimate Evil. His brutal harassing of Tosca brought to mind a Sicilian macho man rather than a Roman Machiavellian aristocrat. Conducted by Daniel Oren, the Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion sounded exceptionally well-phrased and dramatic, yet also extremely delicate in passages that required it.