2015–2016 Season Seeking the Human Element


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It’s not enough to live for art when the winds of change threaten to radically reshape the political landscape. Love, lust and loyalty blend with political intrigue and romance in this action-packed opera; one of the Dallas Opera’s most popular productions!

Starring Emily MageeGiancarlo Monsalve • Raymond Aceto • Ryan Kuster

Conductor Emmanuel Villaume • Director Ellen Douglas Schlaefer

Rated PG Intense drama, off-stage-torture, onstage violence

Opera in Brief

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Inside the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle

Cesare Angelotti, former consul of the Roman Republic and now an escaped political prisoner, runs into the church and hides in the Attavanti private chapel – his sister, the Marchesa Attavanti, has left a key to the chapel hidden at the feet of the statue of the Madonna. The elderly Sacristan enters and begins cleaning. The Sacristan kneels in prayer as the Angelus sounds. The painter Mario Cavaradossi arrives to continue work on his picture of Mary Magdalene. The Sacristan identifies a likeness between the portrait and a blonde-haired woman who has been visiting the church recently (unknown to him, it is Angelotti’s sister the Marchesa). Cavaradossi describes the “hidden harmony” (“Recondita armonia”) in the contrast between the blonde beauty of his painting and his dark-haired lover, the singer Floria Tosca. The Sacristan mumbles his disapproval before leaving.

Angelotti emerges and tells Cavaradossi, an old friend who has republican sympathies, that he is being pursued by the Chief of Police, Baron Scarpia. Cavaradossi promises to assist him after nightfall. Tosca’s voice is heard, calling to Cavaradossi. Cavaradossi gives Angelotti his basket of food and Angelotti hurriedly returns to his hiding place. Tosca enters and suspiciously asks Cavaradossi what he has been doing – she thinks that he has been talking to another woman. Cavaradossi reassures her and Tosca tries to persuade him to take her to his villa that evening: “Non la sospiri, la nostra casetta” (“Do you not long for our little cottage”). She then expresses jealousy over the woman in the painting, whom she recognises as the Marchesa Attavanti. Cavaradossi explains the likeness; he has merely observed the Marchesa at prayer in the church. He reassures Tosca of his fidelity and asks her what eyes could be more beautiful than her own: “Qual’occhio al mondo” (“What eyes in the world”). After Tosca has left, Angelotti reappears and discusses with the painter his plan to flee disguised as a woman, using clothes left in the chapel by his sister. Cavaradossi gives Angelotti a key to his villa, suggesting that he hide in a disused well in the garden.

The sound of a cannon signals that Angelotti’s escape has been discovered. He and Cavaradossi hasten out of the church. The Sacristan re-enters with choristers, celebrating the news that Napoleon has apparently been defeated at Marengo. The celebrations cease abruptly with the entry of Scarpia, his henchman Spoletta and several police agents. They have heard that Angelotti has sought refuge in the church. Scarpia orders a search, and the empty food basket and a fan bearing the Attavanti coat of arms are found in the chapel. Scarpia questions the Sacristan, and his suspicions are aroused further when he learns that Cavaradossi has been in the church; Scarpia mistrusts the painter, and believes him complicit in Angelotti’s escape. When Tosca arrives looking for her lover, Scarpia artfully arouses her jealous instincts by implying a relationship between the painter and the Marchesa Attavanti. He draws Tosca’s attention to the fan and suggests that someone must have surprised the lovers in the chapel. Tosca falls for his deceit; enraged, she rushes off to confront Cavaradossi. Scarpia orders Spoletta and his agents to follow her, assuming she will lead them to Cavaradossi and Angelotti. He privately gloats as he reveals his intentions to possess Tosca and execute Cavaradossi. A procession enters the church singing the Te Deum; exclaiming ‘Tosca, you make me forget even God!’, Scarpia joins the chorus in the prayer.


Scarpia’s apartment in the Palazzo Farnese, that evening

Scarpia, at supper, sends a note to Tosca asking her to come to his apartment. He has been unable to find Angelotti, but has arrested Cavaradossi. As Cavaradossi is brought in and questioned, the voice of Tosca, singing a celebratory cantata in another room in the Palace, can be heard. Cavaradossi denies knowing anything about the escape of Angelotti. Tosca arrives, just in time to see her lover taken to an antechamber to be tortured. He is able to speak briefly with her, telling her to say nothing. Tosca is told by Scarpia that she can save her lover from indescribable pain if she reveals Angelotti’s hiding place. She resists, but hearing Cavaradossi’s cries of pain, eventually tells Scarpia that Angelotti is in the well in the garden of Cavaradossi’s villa.

Scarpia orders the torture of Cavaradossi to cease and the wounded painter is brought back in. He recovers consciousness and, learning of Tosca’s betrayal, is furious with her. Sciarrone, a police agent, enters with news of Napoleon’s victory at Marengo; Cavaradossi gloats, telling Scarpia that his rule of terror will soon be at an end, before being dragged away by Scarpia’s men. Scarpia, left with Tosca, proposes a bargain: if she gives herself to him, Cavaradossi will be freed. She is revolted, and repeatedly rejects his advances. Outside she hears the drums that announce an execution; as Scarpia awaits her decision, she prays to God for help, asking why He has abandoned her: “Vissi d’arte” (“I lived for art”). Scarpia remains adamant despite her pleas. When Spoletta brings news that Angelotti has killed himself, and that everything is in place for Cavaradossi’s execution, Tosca, in despair, agrees to submit to Scarpia in return for Cavaradossi’s freedom. Scarpia tells his deputy Spoletta to arrange a mock execution, both recalling that it will be “as we did with Count Palmieri”.

Following Spoletta’s departure, Tosca imposes the further condition that Scarpia provide a safe-conduct out of Rome for herself and her lover. While he is signing the document, Tosca quietly takes a knife from the supper table. As Scarpia triumphantly embraces her, she stabs him, crying “this is Tosca’s kiss!”. As Scarpia falls dead, she declares that she now forgives him. She removes the safe-conduct from his pocket, lights candles in a gesture of piety and places a crucifix on the body before leaving.


The upper parts of the Castel Sant’Angelo, early the following morning

A shepherd boy sings (in Romanesco dialect) “Io de’ sospiri” (“I give you sighs”) as church bells sound for matins. Cavaradossi is led in by guards and informed that he has one hour to live. He refuses to see a priest, but asks permission to write a letter to Tosca. He begins to write, but is soon overwhelmed by memories: “E lucevan le stelle” (“And the stars shone”). Tosca enters and shows him the safe-conduct. She tells him that she has killed Scarpia and that the imminent execution is a sham: Cavaradossi must feign death, but afterwards they can leave Rome together, before Scarpia’s body is discovered. Cavaradossi is amazed at the courage shown by one so gentle and tender: “O dolci mani” (“Oh sweet hands”). The pair ecstatically plan the life they will live away from Rome. Tosca then anxiously instructs Cavaradossi on how to play his part in the mock execution convincingly. She tells him that he will be shot with blanks by the firing squad and instructs him to fall down as if dead. He agrees to act “like Tosca in the theatre”.

Cavaradossi is led away, and Tosca watches with increasing impatience as the execution is prepared. The men fire, Cavaradossi falls, and Tosca exclaims “Ecco un artista!” (“What an actor!”). When the soldiers have all left, she hurries towards Cavaradossi, only to find that he is really dead; Scarpia has betrayed her. Heartbroken, she clasps his lifeless body and weeps. The voices of Spoletta, Sciarrone and soldiers are heard, indicating that Scarpia’s body has been found, and that Tosca is known to have killed him. As Spoletta, Sciarrone and the soldiers rush in, Tosca rises, evades their clutches, and runs to the parapet. Crying “O Scarpia, Avanti a Dio!” (“O Scarpia, we meet before God!”), she hurls herself over the edge to her death.

Cast Biographies

Emily Magee (Floria Tosca) an American soprano, is a frequent guest of all of the world’s most important opera houses and concert halls.   In 2014-15, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut, and also sang leading roles at the Royal Opera House, The Netherlands Opera, Zurich Opera, the Vienna State Opera, as well as the opera houses of Hamburg and Berlin. Her most recent portrayals include Minnie in La Fanciulla del West, the Empress in Die Frau ohne Schatten, and Chrysothemis in Elektra.   In the coming year, she will make her role debut as Isolde in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde in Paris, and will return to the role of Ariadne auf Naxos at the Berlin State Opera. She can be seen in numerous filmed performances, including her debut as Tosca with Jonas Kaufmann from the Zurich Opera House.   

Giancarlo Monsalve (Mario Cavaradossi) tenor, has been internationally acclaimed as one of the leading heroic tenors of his generation, being invited to such major opera houses as the Arena di Verona, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Zurich Opera House, the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, the Washington National Opera, Teatro Regio of Turin and many others. Engagements from the 2014/2015 season included Carmen at the Arena of Avenches Opera Festival, his Prince Calaf debut in Turandot at the Michigan Opera Theater, and his debut as Radames in Aida at the Tenerife Opera Festival in March of 2015. He will also perform in Tosca in house debuts at the Budapest Summer Festival and The Dallas Opera. 2016 will include a house and role debut as Polione in Norma at The Florida Grand Opera, Miami. 

Raymond Aceto (Baron Scarpia) American Bass Raymond Aceto career highlights include Scarpia (Tosca), Fiesco (Simon Boccanegra), Seneca (L’Incoronazione di Poppea), Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte) at Houston Grand Opera; the title role of Nabucco at the Arena di Verona; Daland (Der Fliegende Holländer) at New Orleans Opera; Zaccaria (Nabucco) at the Metropolitan Opera and San Diego Opera; and Escamillo (Carmen) at Los Angeles Opera. He has also appeared as the Commendatore (Don Giovanni) with the Metropolitan Opera and Houston Grand Opera; as well as Walter (Luisa Miller), Leporello (Don Giovanni), Sparafucile (Rigoletto), and Fafner and Fasolt (Das Rheingold) with The Dallas Opera. His international career highlights have included appereances at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Arena di Verona, Teatro Real de Madrid, Royal Opera House and Vienna Staatsoper. 

Ryan Kuster (Angelotti) Bass-baritone Ryan Kuster gained vast attention on the west coast for his accolades in San Francisco, where he recently completed a two-year residency and over 80 performances with the prestigious Adler Fellowship at San Francisco Opera. The Classical Voice said of his performance as Masetto in Don Giovanni, “Handsome Ryan Kuster sang beautifully, and acted so convincingly that it was hard to believe he’s an Adler Fellow.”  Mr. Kuster made his symphonic début with the Los Angeles Philharmonic singing the role of Masetto in its highly acclaimed production of Don Giovanni, directed by Christopher Alden, with costumes by Rodarte, and led by Maestro Dudamel.  He also returned to Wolf Trap Opera to début the title role of Don Giovanni and made his National Symphony début performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Dale Travis (A Scaristan) Mr. Travis boasts a repertoire encompassing 50 roles over 25 years in a wide variety of styles from Mozart, Donizetti and Rossini to Strauss, Puccini and Wagner. Mr. Travis has been a frequent guest artist at Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington Opera, Los Angeles, Santa Fe Opera, Spoleto Festival USA, Teatro Regio in Torino, Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa and the Berlin Komische Oper. Recently Mr. Travis returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for Tosca and The Merry Widow, Santa Fe Opera for Arabella, and the San Francisco Opera for The Marriage of Figaro and Makrpolous Case, A View from the Bridge in Rome and the Doctor in Vec Makropolous at the Metropolitan Opera. 

William Ferguson (Spoletta) Acclaimed for his versatility, Mr. Ferguson has become an artist in demand all over the world. Highlights include debuts with the Santa Fe Opera, Opera Australia, The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, The Aspen Music Festival, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Virginia Opera, Opera Omaha, Gotham Chamber Opera, Music Academy of the West, Tanglewood Music Center and the Chautauqua Institution. Mr. Ferguson has also performed with Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall on several occasions.  A compelling interpreter of new music and concert performer, Ferguson has appeared with BBC Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. He holds both a Bachelor’s and Masters of Music degrees from The Juilliard School and is a native of Richmond, Virginia.

Production Biographies

Emmanuel Villaume (Conductor) (Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director in honor of Graeme Jenkins). Emmanuel Villaume is in his third year as Music Director of The Dallas Opera after conducting Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Iolanta this past season. He made his debut with the company in 1998 conducting Faust. He is a frequent guest conductor at the world’s leading opera companies, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, the Washington National Opera, Santa Fe Opera, London’s Royal Opera, the Paris Opera, Monte Carlo Opera,Venice’s La Fenice, the Munich Staatsoper, Berlin’s Deutsche Oper, the Hamburg Staatsoper, Madrid’s Teatro Real, and Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colón. He has led the Montreal Symphony in Montreal and at Carnegie Hall, the Chicago Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the orchestras of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, St. Louis, Detroit, Minnesota, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Beethovenhalle Orchestra of Bonn, and the China National Opera Orchestra for the 2008 Olympic Games. He is also Chief Conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra. He served from 2001-2010 as the Spoleto Festival USA’s Music Director for Opera and Orchestra. Maestro Villaume has conducted award-winning recordings for Deutsche Grammophon (including Iolanta featuring Anna Netrebko), Warner Classics (Heroique with Bryan Hymel), Decca and EMI. In September, he will assume a new post as Music Director and Chief Conductor of the PKF--Prague Philharmonia, in addition to his work in Dallas.

Ellen Douglas Schlaefer (Stage Director) Ms. Schlaefer has staged Faust for The Washington National Opera; La bohème and Don Giovanni (Lyric Opera of Kansas City); La bohème and Romeo et Juliette with the National Symphony Orchestra and Wolf Trap Opera; The Little Prince (Houston Grand Opera);  La bohème (Michigan Opera Theatre). Schlaefer worked regularly with The Santa Fe Opera from 1987 until 2000 and for the Washington Opera 1986 to 1994. Early in her career, Schlaefer assisted directors Francesca Zambello, Gian Carlo Menotti, Julius Rudel and others on productions with The Washington Opera, Houston Grand Opera, The Dallas Opera, Opera Colorado, Central City Opera, Charleston Symphony, The Israel Festival (Jerusalem, Israel) and Teatro Comunale di Modena (Italy). Upcoming engagements for 2015 include: Tosca for The Dallas Opera and The Little Prince for Houston Grand Opera.

David Zimmerman (Wig and Make-up Designer) has worked with The Dallas Opera and other opera companies around the world. These include the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Santa Fe Opera, Paris National Opera, and Opera Santa Barbara. Mr. Zimmerman’s career extends to Broadway as well, where he has worked on shows including Wicked, Rocky Horror, Show Boat, South Pacific and Evita. His personal clients include Deborah Voigt, Joyce DiDonato, Patricia Racette, Martha Stewart, Olympia Dukakis, and Ricky Martin. He has also done the make-up for the DIFFA Fashion Runway, Dallas Fashion and Art Charity, and the Yelp.com fashion event. His print credits include two features in Opera News plus features in both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Television and film credits include Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year and a feature film.

Alexander Rom (Chorus Master) is a native of Kharkov, Ukraine, and holds a Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting from Leningrad Conservatory of Music. Since immigrating to the U.S., he has worked as a performer, conductor, educator, voice teacher, opera coach, and composer. He has been the chorus master for The Dallas Opera since 1990 and an opera coach with the Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Savonlinna Opera Festival, Cincinnati Festival, and Ravinia Festival. He has worked with world renowned singers including Paul Plishka, Mirella Freni, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Jorma Hynninen, Helga Dernesch, Martti Talvela, Joyce DiDonato, and Jerry Hadley. Maestro Rom is an honorary Visiting Professor at Sibelius Academy Helsinki Conservatory and was a Visiting Professor at Savonlinna Opera Festival Music Institute.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles

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The season's performances of this production have concluded.