Tosca in Chicago!

Having taken Puccini’s La Bohème round the Graves Gallery a couple of years ago, Opera on Location is turning its attention to the composer’s next big hit in 1900, Tosca, at a different location!

The newly renovated Abbeydale Picture House on Abbeydale Road, to be precise, where it will be played out on three nights, the 25th, 26th and 27th of August.

For the production, the opera’s director Louise Pymer has taken the work out of its Rome setting and transplanted it in prohibition-era America with Tosca and her beloved Mario caught up in the middle of gang warfare and Scarpia is a corrupt detective.

Opera on Location describe the Abbeydale cinema, which first opened its doors in 1920 and has taken on numerous guises since closing them in 1975, as the “perfect setting” for the opera’s production, one the reasons clearly being its original use, showing films!

The performance will be using visual images created by filmmaker Dave Alexander Smith of various Sheffield localities, an exercise supported by the Sheffield Town Trust.

Although set in 1920s America, the intention is to draw on aspects of the notorious Sheffield gang wars during the same decade, causing the city to be dubbed ‘little Chicago’ at the time.

How a number of aspects of the ‘original’ Tosca will be handled remains to be seen!

Andrea Tweedale plays the jealous prima donna and gets to sing the famous Love and Music, the usual English translation of Vissi d’Arte, and OoL joint founder Gareth Lloyd is Mario Cavaradossi who has a couple of celebrated arias of his own.

Scarpia is taken by Phil Wilcox, involved in the Sheffield Bach Choir’s recent performance of Merrie England and, even more recently, was a member of the Buxton Festival opera chorus.

He also covered one the roles, Juliet’s father in Bellini’s Romeo and Juliet opera, portrayed in the production as a cold, murderous individual which means the evil Scarpia should right up his street if his services were called on!


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