TVNZ 1 OnDemand

Opera comes to the small screen with New Zealand Opera’s Tosca


A knife to your throat; NZ Opera’s Tosca is visceral and electric. – David Larsen, Metro

New Zealand Opera’s acclaimed 2015 production of Tosca is now on available on free-to-air television on TVNZ OnDemand.

Love, lust and political intrigue fill the world of the passionate singer Tosca (Orla Boylan). When her lover, Cavaradossi (Simon O’Neill), is imprisoned by police chief Scarpia (Phillip Rhodes), Tosca takes matters into her own hands with dramatic consequences. Set in Italy in the 1950s, the visuals lend themselves to life shadowed by the mafia and post WWII politics.

This opera saw New Zealand’s opera superstar Simon O’Neill in his first major role at home in a decade. O’Neill says Tosca features some of the greatest music ever written for a tenor.

“I was able to work with some of the great tenors over the years on developing my voice, and I saw my heroes, Pavarotti and Domingo sing this role,” O’Neill said. “So to actually come back to my home country that I love so much, and hear them ringing in my ear as I sing to New Zealand audiences. I’m proud to be involved.”

“This is the perfect opera for television. It’s around two hours, action filled, it has an operatic score that’s one of the great movie soundtracks of all time. The characters are completely believable – they’re real people.”

“…as Cavaradossi, O’Neill fills the role with power and understanding, running a surfeit of emotions that are real and believable, his opening aria Recondita armonia showcasing a tenor at the top of his game.” – Ewan Coleman, Dominion Post.

If Simon O’Neill is our biggest opera star, Phillip Rhodes (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Kahungunu) is another formidable Kiwi singer whose career has gone from strength to strength since this production, including performances at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. “As Scarpia, Phillip Rhodes has just the right power and charisma to catch the character’s unredeemed villainy.” William Dart, New Zealand Herald.

New Zealand Opera was due to open The Marriage of Figaro in June, but has been forced to postpone the production until 2021 due to COVID-19. The company hopes to stage its next major production Semele at Auckland Holy Trinity Cathedral on schedule in September.

New Zealand Opera General Director Thomas de Mallet Burgess is delighted that TVNZ has come on board to enable opera lovers to experience the art form they are so passionate about while theatres are closed.

“Work of the quality produced by New Zealand Opera deserves to be seen by the widest audience possible. There is an opportunity presented by the current circumstances and the support of TVNZ for the arts to reach out further in the digital space. If our audiences respond to this initiative then we’ll be looking for further ways of connecting through digital platforms in support of our live performances,” de Mallet Burgess said.

“It’s a wonderful chance for people to experience the drama of opera from the safety of their sofas.”

We are delighted to be working with ABLE which has provided audio description for this programme for blind and vision impaired people based upon the 2018 script as prepared by Annabel Keys and Rachel Sears. To find out how to access the audio description click on the link.

Read about the creative team and the cast that brought this production to life.

If you would like more information on Puccini’s Tosca  please view our original programme from the 2015 production.

If you would like to support us in making more New Zealand opera available in the digital format please support us below by making a donation or sending us a message of support. For more details go to our Voice Your Support webpage.

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