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It’s been a decade since the Dayton Opera presented the masterpiece; it returns in April with serious star power, breathtaking new sets, and, of course, Puccini’s dazzling score

DAYTON, OH (April 2, 2024) – The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance continues its ‘23–24 Opera Season with Puccini’s timeless masterpiece, Tosca. Produced and directed by Kathleen Clawson, DPAA’s Opera Artistic Director and Dr. Ron Anderson and Robb Sloan-Anderson Chair, the production features true-to-life, Italian-made sets with bespoke costuming. Neal Gittleman leads the Dayton Philharmonic through Puccini’s iconic score, and chorus master Jeffrey Powell directs the Dayton Opera Chorus. Tosca takes place on April 20 at 7:30pm and April 21 at 2:30pm in the Mead Theatre of the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center. Tickets start at just $5 and can be purchased by phone at (937) 228-3630; in person at the Dayton Live Box Office in the Schuster Center; or online at daytonperformingarts.org.

Premiered in 1900, Puccini’s Tosca was an instant success and subsequent stagings were met with packed houses. Since then, Puccini’s tale of love and jealousy has endured due to its majestic score and timeless themes of political unrest and abuse of power. Set in 19th-century Rome, the story centers on the prima donna Floria Tosca; her lover Mario Cavaradossi (a painter and republican); and the sadistic police chief, Baron Scarpia. Scarpia lusts after Tosca, and once he learns of Cavaradossi’s political ties, he seizes the opportunity. He manipulates Tosca with an unthinkable proposition; can the diva escape his clutches and save her lover? Thrilling from the very first note—and with a runtime akin to the average Hollywood movie—Tosca places audiences on the edge of their seats!

For such a grand opera, Artistic Director Clawson assembled a star-studded cast—all three of which are making their Dayton Opera debut. Soprano Caitlin Gotimer is “Tosca,” a role she recently performed at Palm Beach Opera. Gotimer was recently named a Finalist and Encouragement Award-winner of the 2023 World Opera Competition Operalia, and has been praised for her dynamic range: “Caitlin Gotimer, in the title role, delivered an object lesson on the art of classical singing … she seemed undaunted by the demands of the role, negotiating the most intricate ornamentations and sustained, high-flung passages with equal agility … displaying a voice of truly heroic proportions” (PGH in the Round).

Fresh from his appearance as “Amonasro” in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Aida, GRAMMY and Emmy Award-winning baritone Reginald Smith Jr. is the corrupt police chief “Scarpia.” Among his many credentials—the 2021 US representative at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition; Grand Finals winner of the 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions; a graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio—Smith has garnered praise from top publications. The New York Times lauded him as a “passionate performer”; The Baltimore Sun characterized his voice as “electric, hall-filling”; and Opera News proclaimed Smith to be “one of the most exciting baritone sounds to come along in years. His voice is ample and thrillingly dramatic.”

Tenor Zach Borichevsky is “Cavaradossi.” Among his recent appearances at the Aspen Music Festival, Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, Finnish National Opera, and the Glyndebourne Festival, OperaWire wrote “Borichevsky revealed himself to be a masterful tenor with an innate cut and ring … [he] delighted and captivated the audience with his presence.”

Clawson remarks: “These three spectacular singers, all making Dayton Opera debuts, have everything it takes to draw you in to Puccini’s exciting story. Adding to that, the costumes are sumptuous, and the sets are so realistically painted, you feel as though you are there. It’s all the spectacle one hopes for when going to see an opera.”

Tosca’s awe-inspiring sets place audiences directly in 19th-century Rome. Designed by Ercole Sormani—the former head of the famous scenic design studio in Milan—and restored by the Seattle Opera, the sets are exquisite depictions of Roman landmarks: the church Sant’Andrea della Valle, Palazzo Farnese (the Farnese palace), and Castel Sant’Angelo. The costumes are by Susan Memmott Alred from the Utah Opera, who designed them specifically to complement the Sormani sets. Together with Puccini’s powerhouse score, Tosca is a feast for the senses.

Audiences can get a special preview of Tosca during DPAA’s Coffee with Kathleen, which takes place on Wednesday, April 10 at 10am at Val’s Bakery (25 S St Clair St, Dayton). This event is free and open to the public. Guests are invited to grab a pastry and join Clawson for a casual discussion about the upcoming production. Learn more at daytonperformingarts.org.

The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance’s 23-24 Opera Series closes on Sunday, June 2 at 2:30pm with opera star—and Metropolitan Opera favorite—Will Liverman. Called “one of the most versatile singing artists performing today” (Bachtrack), the GRAMMY Award-winning baritone comes to Dayton fresh from his Metropolitan Opera premiere of Anthony Davis’s X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X. Liverman opened the Met’s 2021 season as the lead in Terence Blanchard’s acclaimed Fire Shut Up in My Bones, and recently co-created The Factotum (inspired by Rossini’s The Barber of Seville) for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In this recital, Liverman performs works from Black composers alongside other pieces from the classical music canon. Tickets and information are available at daytonperformingarts.org.