WA Opera presents murder, passion and intrigue in Puccini’s Tosca


Antoinette Halloran and Paul O’Neill. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Antoinette Halloran and Paul O’Neill. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

IF Italian opera composer Giacomo Puccini lived in today’s world he would be writing film scores and making bucket-loads of money, according to Melbourne soprano Antoinette Halloran and Perth tenor Paul O’Neill.

The pair, who will star in WA Opera’s presentation of New Zealand Opera production Tosca, said although opera was more complex, Puccini’s music provided audiences with similar emotion to movies from start to finish.

And they both agreed Tosca was the best initiation for those new to opera.

Tosca, La Boheme and Madama Butterfly are the three greatest but this one (Tosca) is so operatic in its storyline,” Halloran, who is making her WA Opera debut, said.

“It’s got murder, passion and intrigue; what more could you want?”

WAAPA graduate O’Neill recently moved back to Perth from Berlin with his family, following 13 years in Europe performing at a hectic pace.

“The craziest time was when I was rehearsing and performing between three operas at once, each in a different language: Czech, French and Italian,” he said.

“It was a lot of work and it was time to come back to paradise. It takes its toll, especially when you have young children.”

Like Halloran, who will play the title role, the father of four has performed his heroic character, artist Cavarodossi, many times before.

However, unlike Halloran, O’Neill is not so ‘method’ in his preparation.

“I get right into what I’m playing, so when I’m Butterfly, I wear a kimono, end up crying a lot and I hug my two children,” Halloran said.

“So this will be a passionate and fiery month for me during Tosca.

“She’s an opera singer so it’s a role I was born to play. She’s very jealous and tempestuous and these are things I can attest to being.”

O’Neill and Halloran will be joined onstage by Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the villainous Baron Scarpia, Wade Kernot, Andrew Foote, Matthew Lester and Paull-Anthony Keightley.

Set in Rome, the opera has deadly consequences when Baron Scarpia, the head of secret police, becomes consumed with desire for Cavarodossi’s lover Tosca.

Stuart Maunder is directing and WA Opera artistic director Brad Cohen will conduct WASO in the production that features WA Opera Chorus and is sung in Italian with English surtitles.

Vissi d’arte is one of the songs you would want to take with you if stuck on a desert island,” O’Neill said.

“Especially if sung by Antoinette.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Tosca

Where: His Majesty’s Theatre

When: March 28 to April 8

Tickets: www.ticketek.com.au