By Claritza Basabe
The first line in an aria sung by Floria Tosca “I lived for my art; I lived for love” truly reflects the passion for her craft of Irena Sylya. who will star as Tosca in its upcoming Panama debut.
Sylya a dramatic soprano and founder and director of the Opera Panama Foundation promises a regal production, spiced with international performers at the Teatro Nacional, as a benefit for the Foundation’s scholarship program.
For Sylya, who has performed around the world, it will be a first time role and she will be joined by a cast of world celebrated singers. Andre Zese, a native-Italian baritone will be Baron Scarpia, a role he has played numerous times with public and critical acclaim, and Leonardo Garmegna, a celebrated Italian Tenor, will play Mario Cavaradossi, to complete the quintessential love triangle that carries this opera through all the twists and turns of love, passion and lust, juxtaposed by the political-social aspects that preoccupy the characters.
Widely acclaimed and versatile Welsh tenor Steve Mullanand accomplished American soprano Laura Pedersen, will fill the roles of Cavaradossi and Tosca on alternate nights.
The dramatic, passionate tale of Tosca, takes place in June of 1800, around the time of Napoleon´s invasion of Italy. Mario Cavaradossi, is a local painter romantically involved with singer Floria Tosca. Tosca´s jealousy and the attentions of Baron Scarpia. set in motion a series of tragic events that send the singer into a spiraling emotional state with a tragic culmination.
Puccini´s melodious score, including several of his most famous arias - Vissi d’Arte and E lucevan le stele, sets the mood for the passionate tale of lust and deceit, coupled with murder and suicide, which guarantees an unforgettable experience for both the opera connoisseur and the newly-novitiate.
The National Sympny Orchestra will be conducted by Pennsylvania native Martin Yazdzik, a long-time friend of Sylya. Although these talented artists have known each other for close to 23 years, this will be their first collaboration in an operatic production. Bringing Tosca to the Panamanian stage, which will surely satisfy the cultural palates of a wide range of tastes for, as Sylya says: “anyone can relate to the love triangle between these characters, in which Tosca becomes a relatable character through her passion and emotional commitment. Asked how this tale would compare to modern issues and situations she said: “This timeless story besides portraying political turmoil and making statements relates to the passion and emotional longing for romance that young women feel today,.”
Sylya goes even further to say that it is her deepest hope that opera audiences "will hopefully be cleansed through catharsis...and leave (the theater) in a lighter mood.”
Sylya will be travelling in the near future to Bratislava, Slovakia, to add the role of Kaiserin Maria Theresia to her already large resume, as she continues in her efforts to support and further develop the arts and culture in Panama.
Tosca will be peformed May 22,24 and 26 at the Teatro Nacional, Tickets range from $25 to $125.