Patrick B. McGuigan
Oklahoma City – Painted Sky Opera, a troupe based in the state capital and the first professional opera company in Oklahoma, launches its second season with Giacomo Puccini’s acclaimed “Tosca.” The powerful tale has enthralled audiences around the world for 110 years.
With performances on October 6 (8 p.m.), October 7 (8 p.m.) and October 8 (2 p.m.) at the Freede Little Theatre in the downtown Civic Center Music Hall, a stellar cast of rising stars will perform the lead roles.
In an interview with The City Sentinel, artistic director Rob Glaubitz said, “Like many great works, Tosca connects with universal themes that will always be relevant. Tosca touches both the bright and dark aspects of humanity in its exploration of love and freedom and how the forces of evil conspire to oppress and destroy both.
“Although the show was originally set in the early Nineteenth Century during the time of Napoleon, we have chosen to move it forward into the chaos of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s to highlight how the battle between freedom and oppression always continues regardless of time period.”
Saira Frank and Nicole Van Every, accomplished performers with stunning vocal range, will divide duties as the title character. Tosca’s lover, the painter Cavaradossi, will be played by J. Warren Mitchell and Joel Burcham, while Thomas Cannon and Tom Sitzler will alternate as Scarpia.
“While the themes of Tosca will help today’s audiences immediately connect to the show, it’s also true that it’s an exciting and fast-paced show with incredible music. There’s a reason that it is the fourth-most popular opera in the world,” Glaubitz reflected.
“The dramatic storyline seems more like a blockbuster movie than a typical complex operatic plot. Puccini’s music soars above it all and drives every moment with tension and emotion. All in all, it’s one of the most intense two hour rides in opera and a great introduction for first-time opera-goers.”
The authenic presentation comes in Italian with English super-titles.
Concerning the young company’s recent elevation to a new home in the Civic Center Music Hall, Glabitz told The City Sentinel, “It’s a honor to be chosen as a one of the resident companies. … The other companies that are residents there – Philharmonic, Ballet, Lyric Theatre, CityRep, Canterbury Voices, and the Oklahoma City Theatre Company – are core members of the vibrant Oklahoma City arts community.
“One of our primary goals in starting Painted Sky Opera was to make professional opera a part of Oklahoma City’s arts culture. Sharing the city’s premiere performing space with some of the city’s premiere arts organizations is a huge step in the right direction.”
Rounding out the named performers are, as Jin Yu (Sciarrone) Jordan Andrews (the Jailer0 and Megan Billings (Shepherd). Ticket information for Painted Sky’s performances is available at https://www.paintedskyopera.org/tickets/ – or from the Civic Center Music Hall box office, 201 North Walker Avenue in Oklahoma City, telephone 405-297-2264. Office hours are Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Season tickets cannot be purchased online.)
Season options are the most economical: $80 for season ticket, with reserved seating at all three Painted Sky shows. Details on various special offers can be found at the opera’s home website.
Taking a broad look at the new season (featured in the last edition of this newspaper), Glaubitz said he was excited, “in part because we get to share these three fantastic shows with Oklahoma City. To our knowledge, none of them have been performed in Oklahoma City before and two of them – Souvenir and Three Decembers – have never been performed in Oklahoma.
“Souvenir is ridiculously funny and, since it only involves two people, is a great show for the small CitySpace Theatre. Three Decembers will really appeal to both opera and musical theatre lovers with the lyrical musical theatre inspired score by Jake Heggie, who is one of the leading lights of 21st century American opera. Overall, our second season will challenge traditional assumptions of what “opera” is and reveal that opera is an exciting and evolving art form that looks towards the future as well as the past.”
On the artistic staff, Glaubitz is joined by Jan McDaniel (music director), Scott Hynes (technical director), Becky Mcguigan (costume designer) and Megan Perdue (stage manager).
Acclaimed soprano Barbara DeMaio is executive director for Painted Sky Opera.