Lyric Opera Presents TOSCA Review — A – Z Impeccable

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At the very front tip of the enormous Civic Opera House stage, and folded over from the cruelty of this moment, Michelle Bradley as Floria Tosca sings out to her God to ask why he has so abandoned her. “Vissi d’arte…” she sings “…I lived for art...” She is hearing her life’s love, Mario Cavaradossi, played by Russell Thomas, get tortured. Always innocent and faithful, she is now trying to comprehend how God has allowed the evil Scarpia, played by Fabián Veloz, to get his way with her.  

This reviewer doubts that anyone in the grand opera hall is not feeling her pain. It's not only one of the most transporting Puccini melodies in this opera—of which there is no shortage—but sung so emotive exponential. How astounding to read in the program book that this is the very first time Diva Bradley has portrayed this role! From start to finish, Bradley inhabits Tosca—in gesture, expression and, most of all, voice.  

You too may think that Bradley has found her equal in tenor Russell Thomas, and especially in the last Act when he sings the most famous of arias from this opera—or perhaps the entire Puccini repertoire—E lucevan le stelle. Bloodstained and fresh from the torture chamber, Thomas thinks and sings only of how sweet his love for Tosca was and is. That he is dying pales compared to losing this love, the thing that matters most.

These are opera-scale emotions. In this reviewer’s opinion, feeling the heart-stirring perfection of the performance rightfully starts with Puccini’s score, which is so exquisitely in lockstep with the emotional landscape painted by the libretto. It’s a story of good vs. evil that we can bring today’s headlines to, seeing Scarpia as a Putin of his day. It’s a love story—a tragic one—perhaps because a happy ending of everyday domestic bliss doesn’t make for a story large enough for an opera hall. 

Lyric Opera Shows How It Takes an Army to Make the Magic

Perhaps taking a tip from the Met Opera’s HD broadcasts or the film Becoming Traviata recently reviewed on these pages, Lyric Opera is inviting its loyal patrons to stay seated during the first intermission to watch the Lyric Army break down the set and assemble the scenery for Act II.  Speaking with the cadence of a fast-talking auctioneer, stage manager Rachel Tobias and assistant technical director Benji McCormack give us the blow by blow—as we watch the many dozens of electricians and carpenters swarming the stage like an army of ants. Meanwhile, canvas walls held by ropes fall, ceilings enter from above, only to be flipped once they are near the floor and then raised and fitted into place. Teams of carpenters heave the heavy set pieces of church altars off stage, clearly exerting as they grab a corner and then take on a runner’s stance. An avalanche of statistics fills the hall—the number of wigmakers on hand, the thousands of artifacts in the Lyric’s warehouse on Chicago’s South Side, the size of containers for wardrobes that are poised to ship overseas, and more.  

It’s a story of perfection from A – Z.  No jazz improv here— every aspect of the production has been as thought out and perfected as Puccini’s score and the divo and diva training that goes into making the music happen.  
This intermission demonstration in itself might be a good reason to bring an opera newbie to this performance. More seasoned opera fans only need to hear the word Tosca— it’s as good as opera gets.


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March 26, 2022 7:30 PM

April 3, 7, and 10, 2022 2 PM

2 hours and 50 minutes (including two intermissions)



Civic Opera House

20 North Wacker





For tickets and information, call 312.827.5600 or go to the Lyric Opera Tosca webpages.

Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago.



Music by Giacomo Puccini | Opera in three acts in Italian

Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa



Rivers Hawkins; Alan Higgs; Russell Thomas; Michelle Bradley; Fabián Veloz; Rodell Rosel;;Anthony Reed. 

Chicago Children’s Choir with Chorus Master Josephine Lee; Liam Brandfonbrener; Leroy Davis 



Conductor- Eun Sun Kim+

Director - Louisa Muller

Set Designer - Jean-Pierre Ponnelle

Costume Designer -Marcel Escoffier

Lighting Designer - Duane Schuler

Chorus Master - Michael Black

Wigmaster and Makeup Designer - Sarah Hatten

Assistant Director - Jordan Lee Braun

Stage Manager -  Rachel A.Tobias


Photos: Todd Rosenberg and Cory Weaver


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Amy Munice

About the Author: Amy Munice

Amy Munice is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Picture This Post. She covers books, dance, film, theater, music, museums and travel. Prior to founding Picture This Post, Amy was a freelance writer and global PR specialist for decades—writing and ghostwriting thousands of articles and promotional communications on a wide range of technical and not-so-technical topics.

Amy hopes the magazine’s click-a-picture-to-read-a-vivid-account format will nourish those ever hunting for under-discovered cultural treasures. She especially loves writing articles about travel finds, showcasing works by cultural warriors of a progressive bent, and shining a light on bold, creative strokes by fledgling artists in all genres.


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