rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 04/30/2008
RSO announces dramatic opera TOSCA
by Press Release

The Rockford Symphony Orchestra is pleased to present the fully staged opera production of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 17 in the beautiful Coronado Performing Arts Center.  The production, featuring internationally acclaimed vocalists, a chorus comprised of regional singers, and a children’s chorus, will be conducted by Music Director Steven Larsen and directed by Vernon Hartman.  The performance is generously sponsored by the Smith Charitable Trust and Ms. Janet Kjellstrom, with additional support from Bergstrom Inc. Charitable Foundation and Farrell & Associates CPAs.
Tickets for the performance are available now through the RSO Box Office at (815) 965-0049, or through the website at Tickets are $35-$65. Group sale rates are also available.

Puccini's masterpiece tells the story of Floria Tosca, the legendary diva, who fights to save her lover in a gripping tale of political turmoil and human passion. Originally set in 1800 Napoleonic Rome, the RSO production is being given a more modern interpretation set in 1930’s fascist Italy. 

“Tosca is arguably the most violent of all the standard operas, depicting an attempted rape, torture, an execution, two suicides, and one of the most famous murders in all of opera,” said Director Vernon Hartman.  “The RSO’s production focuses on the essence of the drama and the characters themselves, and will provide a different, yet penetrating look at this timeless masterpiece.”

This production of Tosca is unique because we are presenting an opera produced entirely by the RSO. From casting, to costumes and staging, preparatory rehearsals, and the final performance, the RSO will bring Tosca to life right here in Rockford. In addition, the RSO is offering an extensive educational component to illuminate aspects of Tosca and the art of opera for students as well as adult patrons.  The RSO’s website features Opera 101 with behind-the-scenes information on this incredible, one-of-a-kind production. 

As a community leader in the arts, the RSO has a successful track record of making momentous artistic strides. This production of Tosca is truly world-class entertainment and highly unique to a community the size of Rockford. It will be an experience appreciated not only by area residents, but audiences from surrounding areas as well. The RSO is able to confidently take on this challenge in part because Music Director Steven Larsen has extensive experience in opera, working with Opera Theater of San Antonio, the Chicago Opera Theater, Lyric Opera Cleveland, the Minnesota Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, and Light Opera of Chicago. In addition, Rockford’s own Coronado Theatre is a perfect facility to stage an opera.

The RSO has assembled a remarkable group of guest artists for the production. The cast is headed by world-renowned soprano, Amy Johnson as Floria Tosca. Ms. Johnson has performed the title role of Tosca with New York City Opera (also broadcast on PBS’ Live from Lincoln Center), and returns to the stage of the Coronado Theatre after starring in the RSO’s 2006 production of La Bohème.  Randolph Locke, one of America’s finest tenors and a recently featured singer with the San Francisco Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago, will star in the role of Tosca’s lover Mario Cavaradossi.  Bass-baritone George Cordes, who has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, will sing the role of the opera’s villain Baron Scarpia. The dual roles of the sacristan and jailor will be sung by Tony Dillon.  Mexico City native Álvaro Ramírez will play the role of Cesare Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner.  The role of the spy, Spoletta, will be sung by tenor Dean Anthony.  Bass John Sikora will play the role Sciarrone.

The adult chorus members include twenty regional singers led by chorus master Martha Bein. Ms. Bein also conducts the Mendelssohn Chorale, as well as serving as music director at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Rockford. The eighteen-member children’s chorus will be led by Joel Ross, director of Kantorei, the Singing Boys of Rockford.

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