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VIRGINIA OPERA PERFORMS GIACOMO PUCCINI'S "TOSCA" AT GMU'S CENTER FOR THE ARTS

January 27, 2009
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE ARTS

PRESENTS

THE VIRGINIA OPERA’S PRODUCTION OF

GIACOMO PUCCINI’S "TOSCA"

Friday, Feb. 13, 2009 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009 at 2 p.m.

·   One of the most popular operas since its 1900 premiere in Rome, Italy

·   Newest soprano sensation debut of Mary Elizabeth Williams as Floria Tosca

·   Powerful tenor Michael Hayes, "Turandot" (2004), returns as Mario Cavaradossi

·   One of America’s most exciting young stage directors, Marc Astafan, debuts

 

FAIRFAX, Va., Jan. 14, 2009 - George Mason University’s Center for the Arts invites audiences to the Virginia Opera’s brilliant production of Giacomo Puccini’s beloved opera, "Tosca." This supremely melodic masterpiece is a tautly suspenseful thriller set in Rome. "Tosca" comes to the Concert Hall stage on Friday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. A pre-performance discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III.

This tragedy will not shock you as much as it will move you with its powerful music and unforgettable characters. Floria Tosca, a headstrong and celebrated operatic soprano, loves the handsome painter Mario Cavaradossi, whose political activism places him the crosshairs of the evil Baron Scarpia. As the chief of police, Scarpia wields his power to set in motion a plan that forces Tosca to satisfy his carnal desires, and rid him of Cavaradossi once and for all. Betrayal, vengeance, seduction and murder, all marinate in Puccini’s most compelling score. However, in the end, does love have the final say in this passionate triangle? Come face the heat of Tosca’s kiss!

Soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams makes her Virginia Opera debut in the title role as the fiery soprano Floria Tosca. Williams is a major discovery with a lush voice and sensitivity to the character and music. Baritone Stephen Kechulius, also making his Virginia Opera debut, as unscrupulous chief of police Baron Scarpia. Kechulius commands the stage with his voice and his mere presence. Returning tenor Michael Hayes completes this passionate triangle as Mario Cavaradossi, a painter, Republican sympathizer and Tosca’s lover. Hayes singing “Nessun Dorma” as Calaf in "Turandot" (2004) captivated audiences.

Marc Astafan makes his Virginia Opera debut as Stage Director for this production of "Tosca." He is one of America’s most exciting young directors bringing his most beloved opera to Virginia’s stages.

Virginia Opera Artistic Director Peter Mark conducts the Feb. 13 performance. Mark conducted his 100th Virginia Opera production, "Il Trovatore," this season, totaling 700 successful performances led by him on the company’s stage during his career. Associate Conductor and Associate Artistic Director Joseph Walsh conducts the performance on Feb. 15, after having conducted the "The Elixir of Love" to critical acclaim.

Stage Director Marc Astafan notes, "'Tosca' is especially exciting and fulfilling because I am directing a passionate love story and a thriller at the same time.” Astafan continues,This time I want to find the emotional quality of the piece. I want audiences to be moved by the tragedy of Tosca, not merely be shocked.” Astafan explains, "'Tosca' really is my favorite because the characters are so human. They are flawed just like you and me. This is not a criticism of the characters. It is actually a compliment. We all say and do things we wish we could take back. Tosca, Cavaradossi and Scarpia are no different. Developing characters to this level is powerful.” Peter Mark, Artistic Director for Virginia Opera explains, “Puccini really loved his women. But unlike his other heroines, Floria Tosca is a professional woman; actually a celebrated opera singer! She has the strength and confidence to open herself to love. She does not shut it out or close it down. Puccini developed a brilliant, passionate and wonderful woman in Tosca.” Mark adds, “This 'Tosca' will be unforgettable!”

The Virginia Symphony provides the orchestra for the production, which will be sung in Italian with Digitext Supertitles projected above the stage and an estimated running time of two hours and twenty-eight minutes, including two intermissions. Virginia Opera may also be found on the web at myspace.com/vaopera and youtube.com/vaopera.

 

The Center for the Arts is pleased to recognize the generous support of PNC and the PNC Foundation as sponsor of the 2008-09 Great Performances at Mason Season. 

Tickets for VIRGINIA OPERA’S "TOSCA" are $86, $72, $44 (Friday) and $98, $80, $48 (Sunday). Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit www.tickets.com. The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K.  Visit www.gmu.edu/cfa

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT MASON is a program of George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, the professional presenting arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music and Theater.

About George Mason University

George Mason University, located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with national distinction in a range of academic fields. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care, Mason prepares its students to succeed in the work force and meet the needs of the region and the world. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason’s Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Its School of Law is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 35 law schools in the United States.