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Red-Blooded Opera Gets Even Hotter


Red-Blooded Opera Gets Even Hotter

The promise of red-blooded Italian opera just got better this week with The NBR New Zealand Opera's announcement that its Genesis Spring Season of Tosca will feature an esteemed British creative duo - conductor, Alexander Ingram, and director Jonathan Cocker - in an original production from Scottish Opera. One of the all-time favourite operas, Puccini's red-hot drama comes to the stage in Wellington and Auckland during September-October.

The production will star renowned New Zealand diva, Margaret Medlyn, in the great title role, and Australian tenor, Gregory Tomlinson as her lover, Cavaradossi. Another confirmation to the leading roles is well-known Wellington baritone, Rodney Macann as Baron Scarpia - the police chief who looms as a threat to both Cavaradossi and Tosca.

Scottish Opera's production was originally directed by Anthony Beusch and designed by Peter Rice and first performed in 1980s. Over the years it has continued to be a popular production in that company's seasonal repertoire.

Director Jonathan Cocker's speciality is opera, though he has worked across many performance fields. He has directed productions for Opera North, Pimlico Opera, Northern Opera (Newcastle), Jerusalem Opera Studio and New Israeli Opera, and many productions for the English Bach Festival including 2001's The Fairy Queen.

London-born conductor, Alexander Ingram originally joined Welsh National Opera but went on to work with English National Opera, the State Opera of South Australia, Kiel Opera (Germany), other major English opera companies and festivals, and during the mid-1990s was appointed Resident Conductor with ENO conducting a wide variety of operas for that company. By this September Puccini's thrilling music for Tosca will be fresh in his mind, as he is conducting Opera Queensland's Tosca in May this year.

A gripping drama of piety, patriotism and passion, Tosca is red-blooded Italian opera at its best. At its core is a personal tale - a triangle of love, lust and betrayal formed by three unforgettable characters whose lives are hurled into Rome's political turmoil amid attempts at conquest. The revolutionary young painter, Cavaradossi, lover of the fiery prima donna, Tosca, gets drawn into a conflict after shielding an escaped patriot. The sinister police chief Scarpia aims to ravish one and liquidate the other, as Tosca fights to save Cavaradossi's life.

One of the most famous female title roles in opera, Tosca has been performed and recorded by many of the world-renowned divas including Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Leontyne Price and Montserrat Caballe.

"Tosca is a woman who experiences powerful emotions so that both dramatically and musically it is a gift of a role for a soprano to sing," says Medlyn. "She's a woman after my own heart and fits my personality like a glove. When I sing the role, I am her."

The Genesis Spring Season of Tosca season is in at Wellington's Westpac St James Theatre 25 September - 4 October; and Auckland's Aotea Centre 16-25 October. In a new endeavour, opening nights in both centres will be charity performances. Tickets to these performances will be subject to a $10 donation with all proceeds going directly to the Genesis Oncology Trust. This unique partnership triangle between one of New Zealand's largest energy retailers - Genesis - a major arts organization, The NBR New Zealand Opera and a significant health charity, the Genesis Oncology Trust, provides the opportunity for a holistic approach to corporate arts sponsorship for the well-being of all New Zealanders on a cultural and physical level.


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