Puccini's Tosca Embraces Human Spirit With Opera Queensland

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Opera Queensland presents Puccini's 'Tosca' at QPAC. Opera Queensland presents Puccini's 'Tosca' at QPAC.

'Tosca' will transport Brisbane to 1970s Italy.

Political and religious tensions are at breaking point. Lust, betrayal, cold-blooded murder ensue. All the workings of a gripping night at the theatre.

Here, bass-baritone Sam Hartley (playing the role of Angelotti in this Opera Queensland production) breaks down four myths about being an opera singer in 2019.

Isn’t opera singing just being loud and mimicking those that have made their mark on the art form?
Mimicking tenors and others is something a lot of people try to do, but ultimately fail at. Take the three most famous tenors for example, Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras. Three men with completely different sounds, yet all classed as tenors. If they all tried to mimic each other why would you need three individual voices, wouldn’t one be enough? Every singer has their own voice and that is what makes not only opera, but every form of singing, so exciting to listen to! Opera is also an unamplified art form with a number of hurdles to overcome. As a singer, you are usually in a very large auditorium and being accompanied by an orchestra made up of anywhere from 30 to 100 instruments all determined to render your voice inaudible. It takes a certain level of volume and projection to overcome this hurdle like that. So, yes, you have to sing loud.

Tosca Sam Hartley 05 19
Sam Hartley

Why don’t we see many young opera singers in lead roles?
Unfortunately, for me this was painfully true. As a young bass voice it took a long time for my voice to mature. I was 36 years old before I first performed in principal roles for major opera companies. But just like that kid in school who had to shave years before everyone else, there are always singers who develop much earlier than others. I have many friends who found success in their early 20s singing in the great opera houses of the world.

Why doesn’t opera have many ‘new works’ or stories?
While opera might not be being written as prolifically as it was in years past, that doesn’t mean there are not new stories and amazing music being created. I recently worked on an opera by a local composer Peter Rankine set in the canefields of North Queensland, and an old university buddy of mine, Kate Miller-Heidke, had great success with her opera 'The Rabbits' performed by Opera Australia. New opera works are out there, so get out and see them!

'Tosca' was written so long ago, it can’t possibly still be relevant today?
While 'Tosca' was written way back in 1899, it is still a story about love, lust, and power. Given the popularity of 'Game Of Thrones', those themes are at least as enthralling to a modern audience as they were over 100 years ago. As a main character, Tosca is willing to do whatever it takes to protect the one she loves, and she doesn’t need any dragons or magic to get the job done!

'Tosca' plays Queensland Performing Arts Centre (Brisbane) 13-22 June.



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