Bath Opera has completed its tour of ‘Tosca’ at 7 different venues with 9 performances, overcoming a Covid crisis midway through the run! Over 750 people bought tickets and the reception of the audience was amazing.
The venues were incredibly diverse, from staged theatres in the Bath Rondo, Strode (Street), Prior Park College and Wincanton, to severely reduced acting areas in Rook Lane Chapel (Frome), Malmesbury Abbey and Great Chalfield Manor. The set was expandable, particularly with the three-sided ‘Periaktos’ appearing in 2.5m and 3.5m high versions – or not at all where space did not allow!
The cast was led by our amazing international guest Ghiulnara Raileanu, alongside Bath Opera regulars Niall Hoskin who surpassed himself as the evil Scarpia, and Rob Felstead whose beautiful tenor tones did credit to Puccini’s wonderful arias. Ed Harper, Robert Marson and Dave Key Pugh provided quality support to the main singers. Peter Blackwood and Jane Clark reprised their roles as Musical and Stage Directors respectively from the previous tour of ‘Barber of Seville’.
Backstage we had an exciting talent in Emily Braganza who moved seamlessly from stage manager to lighting operator to sound operator. Emily has won a job with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and we wish her the very best of luck.We were in constant fear of Covid leading to cancelled performances, and indeed one such crisis occurred when Rob reported a positive test mid-run.
After frantic research, Jonathan Cooke stood in at 36 hours’ notice and sang the role in English for the first time. Luckily we had taken a film of the Malmesbury Abbey performance, so he could learn the cuts and the moves from the film on the afternoon before coming down from London!
There were some terrific unsolicited emails after the performances, and a few are included here –
‘We were bowled over by the bravura performance of Ghiulnara as well as by the very high standard of singing and acting amongst the other performers. With the very assured piano playing by Peter, this really brought the drama and pathos of “Tosca” to light.’ – NE
‘We were quite taken aback given the limitations of the venue what a wonderful and innovative production it was. Every one of the company – and the one-man orchestra!! – was stupendous…. It was a great delight to me that my 12-year-old grandson, going to his first-ever performance of an opera, was enthralled – and can’t wait to see another opera ..hopefully you have “sold” him a source of joy for many years to come!’- JD
‘The performance of Tosca which we saw last night was absolutely terrific! All three principals were in wonderful voice, and the drama was compelling.’ – LM
‘I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed Tosca last night. Ghiulnara was breathtaking and it was an all-round great performance! – JC
‘It was brilliant! Thank you so much to you and the cast for such an enjoyable evening, albeit, I had to wipe away a tear or two. Superb performances by all!’ – SC