Tosca, West Australian Opera’s lasted show to grace His Majesty’s Theatre, is a whirlwind of romance, jealousy, and grief. To briefly explain: Floria Tosca (Antoinette Halloran) finds herself in danger’s way after her lover Maria Cavaradossi (Paul O’Neill) helps Cesare Angelotti (Wade Kernot) hide from the police, lead by the evil Baron Scarpia (Teddy Tahu Rhodes). This fast-paced show is full of action and held my attention through every vibrato, evil laugh, and plot twist.
My first praise ought to be for the set design. When the curtain rose it wasn’t a stage that stood before us but the inside of a church; perfectly styled walls framed the scene to the roof and candles framed the altar to create the ultimate parish setting. This was only for act one, the second and third were just as captivating and gave the audience the perception we were transported into the story and it’s setting.
I found myself also captivated by the use of shadows throughout the show. It is mostly present in the second act with Scarpia opening and shutting the door to the torture room, the opening of the main door which illuminated the dark room, and in the silhouettes of Tosca and Scarpia tossed across the room during their scene together. Scarpia’s looming presence a shadow over Tosca’s beauty.
Antoinette Halloran was a gift to this show, starring as Floria Tosca, and demonstrated an array of talent. Not only is Halloran exceptionally beautiful, her vocals sent goosebumps up my arms in delight. Her portrayal of Tosca was well-rounded, not just a jealous damsel-in-distress but witty and passionate. The costuming department also played up the colour red in her outfits, a colour suited to the passion of Tosca’s character.
On the other hand, it took a while for me to warm up to Paul O’Niell’s portrayal of Mario Cavaradossi. While his vocals were smooth his body movements seemed wooden at times. Teddy Tahu Rhodes (Baron Scarpia) in contrast seemed well versed and relaxed in his role. Rhodes’ rendition of Scarpia was malevolent and his many years of opera experience was made clear by his seamless character. His velvety baritone a companion to the dark character of Scarpia.
I’m also compelled to gush over the ultimate cuteness of the Tosca Children’s Choir. Their excitement in performing was evident in their scenes on stage. The choir was a great addition to the usual West Australian Opera Chorus, adding depth to their ensemble pieces. It is also satisfying to see a new generation fall in love with performing and with Opera.
The West Australian Opera’s Tosca was a thoroughly enjoyable show and highlights the talent across the entire cast and crew that contributed to the memorable performance. I must admit my favourite operas always seem to have Teddy Tahu Rhodes playing the antagonist and that alone speaks for his stage presence. For more information on the show and other upcoming events, and how to book tickets, visit the West Australian Opera website.