Opera’s most tempestuous tale of love, deception and political intrigue—“Tosca”—comes alive in Westfield on Saturday, Feb. 23, and in Madison on Sunday, Feb. 24, as the New Jersey Festival Orchestra and award-winning soloists perform Giacomo Puccini’s music in its full glory.
 
Puccini’s irresistible lyric genius has long made Tosca one of opera’s most breathtaking masterpieces. A cast of internationally acclaimed guest performers assembled from Maestro Wroe’s extensive contacts in European and American opera houses joins NJFO to present, acted and in costume, this gripping tale of love, lust, corruption and ultimate struggle for survival.
 
Set amid the chaos of revolution during the Napoleonic wars of 1800 Rome, the story follows a glamorous singer, a victim of her own jealousy, in a willful battle with the cunning chief of police to save her lover, a painter, who is captured and sentenced to death for hiding his rebel friend.
 
 
Singing the title role of fiery prima donna Floria Tosca is award-winning soprano Jenny Schuler who has earned praise in recent seasons for her powerful vocals and compelling stage artistry. Schuler recently joined Indiana University as a guest artist in the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos as well as debuting the comic role of Berta in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Sugar Creek Opera, both to rapturous reviews.
 
Lauded for his distinctive timbre and magnetic stage presence tenor Kirk Dougherty makes his NJFO debut in the role of revolutionary artist Mario Cavaradossi. With a sound combining clarity, strength, and integrity, Dougherty is one of the most exciting voices entering the opera circuit today.
 
He performed the role of Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto with Opera Las Vegas, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Bob Jones University, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Glacier Symphony as part of their Festival Amadeus and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Wichita Grand Opera.
 
The role of the menacing police chief Scarpia, determined to possess Tosca and thwart Cavaradossi, is performed by Todd Thomas. Recognized by opera companies and critics alike as one of the true baritones gracing stages today, Thomas recently made his Opera Shanghai debut as the title role in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer, and returned to Opera Omaha as Tonio/Alvio in I Pagliacci/Cavalleria Rusticana. Other recent engagements have included returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago as Monterone in Rigoletto, the title role of Verdi’s Falstaff and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Manitoba Opera.

 
"Tosca has long been one of the most popular operas in the entire repertoire," said NJFO Music Director David Wroe. "Puccini's powerful score illuminates the tense drama at every step, giving numerous opportunities for the three principals to shine.”
 
"We are thrilled to be joined by these fabulous singers,” Wroe said. “Each of them is a star who has already graced the stages of concert halls and opera houses across the world. With their outstanding technique and artistic interpretation of this, Puccini’s most loved and most poignant work, I predict that there will not be a dry eye in the house.”
 
Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the opera is brought to life with costumes, sophisticated staging and colorful design by Artistic Director Maria Todaro. A free pre-concert lecture will be presented at 6 p.m. in Westfield prior to the performance there.
 
NJFO’s Tosca, The Joseph T. DeAlessandro Memorial Opera Concert, has been made possible through additional generous support of Ray Catena of Union, Atlantic Health Systems, Marty Jeiven, the NJ State Council on the Arts and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
 
TICKETS and INFORMATION
 
Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.
Free pre-concert lecture by Michael Rosin at 6 p.m.  
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield
140 Mountain Ave.
Westfield, NJ
 
Sunday, Feb. 24 at 3 p.m.
The Concert Hall
Drew University
36 Madison Ave.
Madison, NJ
 
Tickets for both concerts cost $30-$76. Students under 18 get in for $15. Tickets are available at www.njfestivalorchestra.org. Tickets may also be purchased by calling the box office 908-232-9400.