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NZ Opera's Tosca Comes to the Small Screen

Clare Martin

New Zealand Opera’s acclaimed 2015 production of Puccini’s Tosca is set to make its free-to-air television debut this Queen’s Birthday weekend. Filmed for cinema release, the production will air on TVNZ 1 on Sunday 31 May at 10am. Following the screening, the film will be added to TVNZ OnDemand for a three month period.
 
Love, lust and political intrigue fill the world of the passionate singer Tosca (Orla Boylan). When her lover, Cavaradossi (Simon O’Neill), is imprisoned by police chief Scarpia (Phillip Rhodes), Tosca takes matters into her own hands with dramatic consequences. Set in Italy in the 1950s, the visuals lend themselves to life shadowed by the mafia and post WWII politics.

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Image by: Neil McKenzie

This opera saw New Zealand’s opera superstar Simon O’Neill in his first major role at home in a decade. O’Neill says Tosca features some of the greatest music ever written for a tenor. 

I was able to work with some of the great tenors over the years on developing my voice, and I saw my heroes, Pavarotti and Domingo sing this role,” O’Neill said. “So to actually come back to my home country that I love so much, and hear them ringing in my ear as I sing to New Zealand audiences. I’m proud to be involved.”

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Image by: Neil McKenzie

This is the perfect opera for television. It’s around two hours, action filled, it has an operatic score that’s one of the great movie soundtracks of all time. The characters are completely believable – they’re real people.”

If Simon O’Neill is our biggest opera star, Phillip Rhodes (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Kahungunu) is another formidable Kiwi singer whose career has gone from strength to strength since this production, including performances at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

"As Scarpia, Phillip Rhodes has just the right power and charisma to catch the character's unredeemed villainy."
William Dart, New Zealand Herald

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Image by: Neil McKenzie

New Zealand Opera was due to open The Marriage of Figaro in June, but has been forced to postpone the production until 2021 due to COVID-19. The company hopes to stage its next major production Semele at Auckland Holy Trinity Cathedral on schedule in September.
 
New Zealand Opera General Director Thomas de Mallet Burgess is delighted that TVNZ has come on board to enable opera lovers to experience the art form they are so passionate about while theatres are closed - It’s a wonderful chance for people to experience the drama of opera from the safety of their sofas.”

Accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Featuring the Freemasons NZ Opera Chorus
Sung in Italian with English surtitles
A New Zealand Opera production

Tosca was performed in Auckland and Wellington in 2015 and in Christchurch in 2018.

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Image by: Neil McKenzie 

Written By: Clare Martin Clare has performed as an opera, recital and oratorio artist in UK most notably the Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank, London. In NZ she has performed with NZ Opera and with the NZ Symphony Orchestra but more recently she has moved into a wider range of contemporary genres including jazz and even Leonard Cohen. Since 2008 Clare has been teaching from her own music studio working with professional and beginner singers. In 2017 she was a mentor on TVNZ’s The Naked Choir working with a cappella choirs and she currently coaches barbershop and a woman’s ensemble.