John Bell’s critically acclaimed 20th century retelling of Puccini’s Tosca has returned to Arts Centre Melbourne with a stellar cast – featuring some of the best performers in the world in a production that calls for three exceptional singers to take on the challenging roles of Tosca, Cavaradossi and Scarpia.
African American soprano Latonia Moore returns to Australia to make her Melbourne debut as Tosca, an opera singer of incredible voice and beauty. Originally planning to study jazz, Latonia was convinced by one of her teachers to study classical music. It was a move that paid off, with Latonia receiving multiple international awards and making her highly acclaimed debut at the Met in 2012.
Australia’s favourite tenor, Diego Torre, reprises the demanding role of Cavaradossi, a painter and Tosca’s lover, is set to be a standout of the season. Baritone Marco Vratogna will make his highly anticipated Australian debut as Scarpia, Rome’s Chief of Police. The Italian superstar’s portrayal of the villain in Puccini’s Tosca has fast become one of his signature roles, receiving praise around the world.
The all-star cast will be joined by the impressive Opera Australia Chorus, and Orchestra Victoria will be under the impressive baton of one of the world’s rising young talents in the international music scene, Andrea Battistoni.
In this production, Bell keeps the opera’s original setting in Rome, but moves the date from 1800 to 1943. Instead of Napoleon’s army occupying the city, it is the Nazis. The transition brings the story forward to an era that resonates with today’s audiences.
“Tosca is not a melodrama, it is a heart-wrenching story of oppression, resistance and a woman blackmailed to save the life of a loved one,” says Bell. “The era I have chosen is a time close enough for its history and images to stir our memory and our emotions. Tosca is a dark story, but one alleviated by Puccini’s glorious music, which celebrates the heroism of those who choose death over loss of liberty.”
The curtain rises on a breathtaking recreation of the Sant’Andrea della Valle by award-winning set designer Michael Scott-Mitchell, whose designs propel the story, from the sheer magnificence of the church, to the austerity of Scarpia’s quarters, and finally to the stark oppression of the prison. Bell’s vision and Scott-Mitchell’s designs are complemented by the incredible work of costume designer Teresa Negroponte, including a stunning evening gown for Tosca.
State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season continues to 10 May 2018.
For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.
Image: Opera Australia’s 2018 production of Tosca at Arts Centre Melbourne – photo by Jeff Busby