Tulsa Opera opens its 2007-2008 season this weekend with one of the world's masterworks, Giacomo Puccini's tragedy, Tosca, Sat., Oct. 6.
Tosca, written in 1899 and based on Victorien Sardou's dramatic play, is one of the standard operas in TO's repertoire and, according to Artistic Director Carol I. Crawford, due for another production.
Perhaps one of Puccini's most sensual operas, Tosca is a tragic tale of love and death. Floria Tosca is an opera singer who is in love with Mario Cavaradossi, a painter. His friend, Cesare Angelotti, has recently escaped prison for political offenses and sought refuge in Rome, where Cavaradossi is helping him hide.
Tosca is at first suspicious of what Cavaradossi may be hiding, thinking him to have taken another lover. Cavaradossi assuages her suspicions and helps Angelotti sneak out of the church where they have met and go into hiding by donning the clothing of his sister, Marchesa Attavanti.
Soon, Scarpia (police chief and the villain of the tale) arrives in search of the escaped prisoner. Scarpia finds evidence that suggests Angelotti may have been there and believes Cavaradossi to be involved with his escape. To ignite Tosca's jealousy, he shows her Marchesa's fan, which she believes is evidence of another woman.
Scarpia invites Tosca to dine with him, and she sees he is torturing Cavaradossi, who refuses to divulge Angelotti's whereabouts. Tosca cannot take hearing her lover in pain, though, and gives up his hiding place. Angelotti is found, and Cavaradossi denounces Tosca for her betrayal.
Tosca begs a price for her lover's life, and Scarpia says she must give him her body and her virtue. She concedes, and the end becomes a we of lust, murder, suicide, betrayal--all the makings of one of opera's best tragedies.
This will be Tulsa Opera's eighth performance in 60 years of this passionate, sensual and harrowing opera. Hungarian soprano Isabella Mederi and Icelandic tenor Johann Valdimarsson will make their Tulsa Opera debuts as Tosca and Cavaradossi, respectively, and baritone Peter Lindskoog returns to Tulsa Opera as Scarpia.
Bassbaritone Richard Sutliff provides an element of comic relief as the Sacristan, an officer of the church. The former general director of Orlando Opera Robert Swedberg directs.
The music of Tosca is deeply powerful and, at times, dark and obscure, the music echoing the events on stage, sometimes fast and nervous and others, slow and melodic.
Though the opera is a classic, it is one TO has not performed for many years, and Crawford said, in a previous interview, she was ready to produce this opera again for a new generation of audiences. And, she had heard Mederi sing previously and wanted to do the opera when the soprano would be available.
"Tosca is an opera singer, so you want somebody who is gorgeous and beautiful and sings the bejeezus out of it. And she does," Crawford said.
She also praised Lindskoog, who has covered the role of Scarpia for the famous Samuel Ramey at the Los Angeles Opera. Ramey has also performed with TO in the past, so Crawford said she believes this production of Tosca will be a sort of passing of the torch between the two singers.
Tosca opens this Saturday at 7:30pm in the Chapman Music Hall of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 110 E. 2nd St. The show continues next Friday and Sunday, Oct. 12 and 14 at 7:30pm.
For tickets and other information, visit www.tulsaopera.com or www.tulsapac.com.
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