In the midst of current events that revolve around societal changes, a loss of interest in classical music, and dissonance in the classical music industry, one organization has managed to ring above the drama like a soprano mid-chorus. The Manhattan Opera Repertory Ensemble (MORE Opera), led by soprano Cheryl Warfield, will premiere its production of Puccini’s Tosca featuring an all-black principal cast at Dicapo Opera Theatre this fall.
Turbulent economic times and a lack of ticket purchasers in the arts community may have caused turmoil and controversy, but hasn’t prevented MORE Opera from coordinating a two-night special event with one of the classical world’s most renowned conductors: Anton Coppola. The non-traditional principal casting of Tosca is the eminent conductor’s vision, who at age 97 is coming out of retirement to conduct the performances. While Coppola has spent some years envisioning a Tosca with non-traditional casting, it was not until he attended a MORE Opera concert performance of Aida with a diverse cast and a 50-voiced multi-cultural and inter-generational community chorus last fall that he knew it was a possibility. “When I heard Cheryl sing Aida, I knew it was her. She was the one to take the lead of Floria Tosca and bring my unique vision to life,” states Coppola.
Serendipitously, in Act II of Tosca, Baron Scarpia bellows “finalmente mia” which translates to "finally mine." Tosca is quite the dream come true for Scarpia and Coppola, an interesting twist on life imitating art. With tickets starting at $40, this is an opportunity to witness a breath of true passion in the operatic world. A limited number of complimentary tickets will be distributed to community members and organizations who are interested in experiencing opera for the first time. Experiencing opera can only induce ecstasy if the passion behind the project is exemplary. Perhaps Tosca -- "Finalmente mia” -- is what New York audiences finally need to devote time to the classical arts again.
Warfield, also the producer of this concert and founder of MORE Opera, has converted non-opera listeners to aficionados and even singers since 2002. “In a time when the mundane and ordinary are glorified through reality TV shows and unabashed texting, where much ado about nothing is extolled, the thought of sitting still and listening to voices with such control, power and projection may seem tedious. That's where I come in. I envision a world where everyone, rich or poor, young or old, artist or audience, can witness the transformative power of opera at least once. All we ask is that New Yorkers have open minds,” states Warfield.
MORE Opera’s Tosca premieres Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 3:00 PM with an encore performance on Wednesday, October 15 at 8:00 PM at Dicapo Opera Theatre, 184 East 76th Street at Lexington Avenue. The concert production stars Cheryl Warfield as Tosca, Walker Jackson as Cavaradossi, Richard Hobson as Scarpia, Steven Herring as the Sacristan, Waundell Saavedra as Angelotti, and features the MORE Opera chorus and orchestra. Manhattan Opera Repertory Ensemble (MORE Opera) provides professional level and artistically satisfying opera performances to the public at affordable prices, setting new standards in musical programming and arts education in New York City. MORE Opera's Tosca is made possible in part with public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. For more information, visit www.moreopera.com. MORE Opera is not affiliated with Dicapo Theatre.
Cheryl Warfield is the founder of MORE Opera.