Puccini’s fieriest heroine lights up the opera stage in Tosca

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Puccini’s fieriest heroine lights up the opera stage in ToscaMarch roars in like a lion and Puccini’s epic Tosca roars onto the Florida Grand Opera (FGO) stage with it, bringing lavish sets and costumes, some of South Florida’s favorite opera stars, and beloved tunes like E lucevan le stelle and Vissi d’arte.

Tosca has been a staple of the repertoire since its 1900 premiere at Rome’s Teatro Constanzi, winning an enduring popularity among opera fans for its dramatic storyline and sweeping, romantic melodies.

Based on the 1887 play La Tosca by Victorien Sardou, with a libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, Tosca is set in the Rome of 1800, where the Bonapartist government has been overthrown by the Kingdom of Naples. The cruel chief of police, Baron Scarpia, persecutes enemies of the state with impunity.

Suspecting the painter Mario Cavaradossi of hiding escaped political prisoner Angelotti, Scarpia loses no time in hauling him in for interrogation. However, he underestimates the strength and passion of Floria Tosca, renowned opera diva and Cavaradossi’s lover. She agrees to Scarpia’s lecherous advances in order to save Cavaradossi from the firing squad, then stabs him before the ink is dry on the papers of safe passage.

Discovering too late that Scarpia has double-crossed her and Cavaradossi is truly dead, Tosca escapes arrest. As Scarpia’s henchmen approach, the diva leaps from the walls of the Castel Sant’Angelo, declaring that she will meet Scarpia before God.

Metropolitan Opera soprano, Toni Marie Palmertree, makes her FGO debut in the title role, having recently debuted as the Voice of Heaven in Don Carlo, and at Palm Beach Opera in the role of Madama Butterfly. The rising star has appeared at Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Syracuse Opera, and many others.

She is joined by South Florida resident, the immensely popular Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz as Cavaradossi. Chacón-Cruz has previously appeared at FGO as Rodolfo in La bohème, and is frequently heard on international stages as The Duke in Rigoletto (Houston, Verona, Mexico City, Napoli, Budapest, Hamburg, Strasbourg, Aix en Provence, San Francisco, Verona, Brussels, Los Angeles, Florence), Alfredo in La traviata, (Seville, Munich, Valencia, Moscow, Rome, Barcelona, Padova, Mexico City, Washington DC, Detroit, Los Angeles, Verona, Oman,) Don José in Carmen (Tel Aviv, Parma, Lyon, Tampere, Palermo, Zurich,) and many other roles.

Returning after last season’s triumphant turn as Rigoletto is seminal baritone Todd Thomas in one of his signature roles as Baron Scarpia. This South Florida favorite has appeared on the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, Arizona Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Birmingham, Manitoba Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Atlanta Opera, Austin Lyric Opera; New York City Opera, Opera Lyra Ottawa, and many others. Recent performances include the title roles in Nabucco at Oper Erfurt, Germany, and The Flying Dutchman at Opera Shanghai, China.

Rounding out the cast are FGO favorite and newly appointed Studio Artist manager, bass-baritone Neil Nelson as the Sacristan, second-year Studio Artist Charles Calotta as Scarpia’s chief henchman Spoletta, and first-year Studio Artist bass-baritone Phillip Lopez as the Jailer and Angelotti.

Maestro Gregory Buchalter returns to conduct after last season’s A Streetcar Named Desire, teaming once again with Streetcar’s stage director Jeffery Marc Buchman. Both Buchalter and Buchman are FGO stalwarts, acclaimed for their work on the FGO stage and many others.

The production comes from Sarasota Opera, with costumes by Howard Tsvi Kaplan, sets by David P. Gordon, wigs and makeup by Sue Sitko-Schaefer, and lighting by Rick Fisher in his FGO debut. Tosca was last produced at FGO in 2014.

The opera is in three acts and will be performed in Italian with English and Spanish supertitles. Performances take place at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on Mar. 18 at 6 p.m., Mar. 19 at 2 p.m., and Mar. 21 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $21 to $230 and may be purchased at fgo.org or by calling 800-741-1010.




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