OKLAHOMA CITY, October 7 – The Painted Sky Orchestra’s production of Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca” concludes its run at the Civic Center tonight (8 p.m.) and tomorrow (2 p.m.).
Arts and entertainment critic Patrick B. McGuigan, writing for The City Sentinel, praised the current production, saying, “The orchestra under Jan McDaniel provides robust sound and the memorable melodies of the great composer, offering a delight to the ears of attendees in the intimate space of the Freede Theatre at Civic Center.”
Painted Sky Opera is opening a second season with “Tosca” by Giacomo Puccini at 8 p.m. tonight (Saturday, Oct. 7 and at 2 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday, Oct. 8) at the Freede Little Theatre at Civic Center Music Hall. The opera is a favorite of operatic audiences throughout the world for its intense, fast-moving story and its powerful music. Painted Sky Opera’s production marks the first time “Tosca” has been performed in Oklahoma City in 40 years.
The plot of the opera focuses on Tosca, a celebrated opera singer whose resolve is tested when her lover is arrested for treason after helping a political prisoner escape from captivity. The man who puts him in jail, the sadistic Baron Scarpia, is enamored with Tosca and offers to spare her lover’s life in exchange for submitting to his advances.
“’Tosca’ abounds with intrigue, romance, and betrayal,” said director Rob Glaubitz. “It plays more like a blockbuster movie than anything else, albeit one with some of the most riveting music ever written.”
Based on a play of the same name, “Tosca” has enjoyed immense popularity since it premiered in 1899 and now stands as the fourth-most performed opera in the world. In particular, the character of Tosca has become a signature role for many of opera’s leading ladies from the last 100 years.
“She is the quintessential fiery diva,” said soprano Nicole Van Every who appears as Tosca in the Saturday evening performance of the opera. “Tosca is extremely satisfying for me to play on a stage because, in many ways, I cannot relate to her in everyday life. I get to explore jealousy, rage, murder, and death.”
Van Every is one of a group of Oklahoma City based professional singers who appear in Painted Sky Opera’s production.
Other local performers include tenors Joel Burcham and J Warren Mitchell, both of whom appear as Tosca’s lover, Cavaradossi, on alternating performances. Both singers have successful performing careers outside of Oklahoma but relish performing for hometown audiences.
“I’ve spent many a day and night on the road performing opera,” said Burcham who appears on the Saturday evening performance with Van Every. “As much as I’ve loved the art and memories I’ve made, and the people with whom I’ve collaborated, my family isn’t there with me.” Burcham’s local fans (and family) share the joy of all opera lovers at the new production.
Sharing duties as the title character is Wisconsin native Saira Frank, who soared in Friday evening’s opening night and will return for Sunday’s performance.
McGuigan reflected, “It’s a shame most fans of great music will only be able to see only one of the two stellar sopranos in this show, not to mention the magnificent male leads (Burcham shares the part of Cavaradossi with Mitchell; the sinister role of Scarpia is divided between Tom Sitzler and Thomas Cannon). These are six great singers and performers.”
Rounding out the named cast are Kevin Eckard as the Sacristan, Justin Kroll as Spoletta, Jin Yu as Sciarrone and Jordan Andrew as the Jailer. “There is nary a false note or gesture in the work of the supporting cast,” McGuigan observed.
He added, “This opera, and this cast, is as good as any you’ll encounter in the U.S. this year.”
“Tosca” begins the sophomore season for Painted Sky Opera. The young opera company found success in its first season of opera, culminating in two sold-out performances of “La Traviata” last February. As a result of that success, the Civic Center asked Painted Sky Opera to become their newest resident company.
“The reception for opera in Oklahoma City has been incredible,” said Glaubitz. “I’m excited to see what the future brings.”
“Tosca” is performed with orchestra in Italian with English supertitles. Rob Glaubitz directs the show for the stage with music direction by Jan McDaniel. Tickets are $35 for adults, with discounts for students, military, and seniors available in-person at the box office.
Tickets are $35 for adults, with discounts for students, military, and seniors available in-person at the box office. For late deciders, check about tickets online at the Civic Center website at http://www.okcciviccenter.com — or visit or call the box office at 405.297.2264.
For more information about the new professional opera company, go to www.paintedskyopera.org.