Tosca top notch

by Joanna on October 12, 2015

Tosca. Fabulous lipstick

When I invited my friend Keith to Tosca and he told me he’d seen it before, I asked for no spoilers. He sent me a text saying “Psh. It’s an opera. There is singing. People die. From a feminist view it is problematic. That’s about all there is to it”. His text was true, but also at the same time kind of not true. That’s not all there is to Tosca – at least not the current NZ Opera’s production of it. It’s a bloody great show.

For starters, Tosca the character probably has the most agency out of any woman in any opera I’ve seen (which admittedly I can count on both hands). Perhaps some of this is due to the staging – this production is set in the Italian 1950s, rather than the 1800. Floria Tosca as played by Orla Boylan wears the most fabulous New Look Dior version of a Carmen San Diego coat ever (and then a dress in which I couldn’t help but see a #redpeak  agenda), marking her as a certified badass.

The sets are not as elaborate and magical as they were for La Cenerentolabut they make fantastic use of the height of the St James Theatre. Philip Rhodes as the baddie Scarpia is a particular standout with swagger and sex appeal galore. In fact, this is one of the things I love the most about opera – despite the high drama of it all, the fact that the actors are generally older and have more heft than movie stars makes the relationships more believable (people who look somewhat like me albeit with more fabulous clothes actually fall in love? Woah!).

I don’t think Tosca would be the best gateway opera for someone who’d never been before, but I do think it’s a glorious production that makes me want to see more and more. It’s on for the rest of the week in Wellington – get to it.

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