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Seattle Opera to Present Puccini's TOSCA, 1/10/15

Seattle-This January, Seattle Opera heats up the winter with one of the most fiery melodramas of all time: Tosca. In this tale, an opera diva must save the man she loves from the clutches of the lecherous police chief whose lust for the leading lady is as strong as his hunger for power. The ultimate, high-stakes love triangle takes audiences on a full-throttle ride toward a shocking and heartbreaking conclusion.

Written by the composer of La bohème and Madama Butterfly, the Italian opera features some of Puccini's best-known music. Tosca has inspired memorable performances from many of the great sopranos for the past century.

"Despite being firmly set at the beginning of the 19th century, the action of Tosca has a chilling resonance in our world today," said Aidan Lang, General Director of Seattle Opera. "Whenever there is political unrest, there is the inevitable danger that power might be abused in the name of upholding the law. And so it is with Tosca. We watch appalled as the corrupt police chief Baron Scarpia draws Tosca and her lover Cavaradossi into a downward spiral of events that will inevitably lead to the deaths of all three. It is opera at its most gripping."

Beloved artists from the 2013 Ring and 2012 simulcast of Madama Butterfly return to Seattle for Tosca.

In the title role is Lithuanian soprano Ausrine Stundyte, who made her Seattle Opera debut as Cio-Cio-San in 2012. Die Welt, the German newspaper, described Stundyte as an impressive singing actress with "unconditional, relentless, unsettling intensity." The newspaper continued: "[Stundyte] brings us straight back to the bygone days of opera, when incomparable singing personalities such as Maria Callas or Renata Tebaldi so completely understood the dialectic of singing: beauty and truth are not mutually exclusive."

Italian tenor Stefano Secco made his Seattle Opera debut as Pinkerton in Butterfly, and he returns now as Mario Cavaradossi, Tosca's lover. Secco earned overwhelming praise for his take on the often-despised male lead in Butterfly; The Everett Herald noted his "dashing seduction and cruel, wanton abandonment." The News Tribune said he carried his character's wide range with "brilliant ease," and The Seattle Times described his "impressive evenness of tone."

Greer Grimsley returns as the lecherous Baron Scarpia. The Seattle favorite and Artist of the Year Award Winner reprises the role for Seattle audiences. "Seldom has a singer had so much fun with the role of the villainous Scarpia as does Greer Grimsley," wrote The Seattle Times in 2008. "Grimsley's Scarpia is a smiling sadist who clearly enjoys the wielding of power - both political and sexual. Grimsley's big, dark baritone was a perfect fit for the compass and the quality of this role." More recently, the singer earned praise for singing Wotan in the 2013 Ring. Opera News wrote, "Grimsley's black, George London-like bass-baritone again ruled, with acting even more intense than before."

Singing the role of Tosca on Jan. 11 and 23 is another Seattle favorite, American soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams, who won Artist of the Year for her 2011 performance as Serena in Porgy and Bess. The Seattle Times noted, "A poignant funeral scene enhances the new widow Serena's virtuoso mourning aria, for which superb soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams won a thunderous opening night ovation."

Several artists will be making their Seattle Opera debuts in Tosca, including American tenor Adam Diegel, who sings Mario opposite Williams; and American bass-baritone Philip Horst who joins them as Scarpia. Diegel's Mario has been praised by Opera News, who called him, "an impulsive, shaggily handsome Cavaradossi ... his spacious, Italianate tenor delivered a stirring 'Recondita armonia' and built 'E lucevan le stelle' masterfully from hushed intimacy to an unfettered 'cri de coeur.'" Opera News saluted Horst for his "theatricality," "intensity," and "sheer vocal beauty."

Also making their Seattle debuts are American bass-baritone Aubrey Allicock as Cesare Angelotti and Scottish tenor Alasdair Elliott as Spoletta. The cast also includes Peter Strummer, Barry Johnson, Craig Grayson and The Seattle Opera Youth Chorus.

Two celebrated artists return to make magic in the orchestra pit, as well as onstage. Julian Kovatchev, another 2012 Butterfly veteran, is at the podium. For his conducting in Butterfly, The Seattle Times wrote, "[Kovatchev led] the orchestra with a delicacy that meshed perfectly with the director's vision." Jose Maria Condemi returns following Orpheus and Eurydice (2012) to direct. Grand, lavish and highly-detailed wing-and-drop sets designed by Ercole Sormani will transport viewers back to Rome in the 1800s.

Production Sponsors: Ann P. Wyckoff, Lenore M. Hanauer, and Richard R. and Constance M. Albrecht

The 2014/15 Season in honor of Speight Jenkins

Tosca premieres Saturday, Jan. 10 and runs through Saturday, Jan. 24. Tickets are available online at or by calling 206.389.7676 or 800.426.1619. Tickets may also be purchased at the Box Office by visiting 1020 John Street (two blocks west of Fairview), Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Ticket prices start at $25.

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