Cardiff, Wales – February 8, 2018 – International opera star Mark S. Doss is proud to announce his debut with the Welsh National Opera (WNO) as Scarpia in Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca. The 16-performance run starts February 9, 2018, at the WNO resident opera house, the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, followed by performances in other UK cities.
“The Welsh National Opera has a reputation for staging energetic, adventurous interpretations of classic operas, and Tosca will be no exception,” says Mr. Doss, a Grammy Award winning bass-baritone. “Puccini’s Tosca is as relevant today as ever, with its dynamics of politics and passion, of power and corruption, of selfishness and self-sacrifice. Playing the role of Scarpia, an arrogant, unscrupulous lawman, is a delve into some of the worst traits of the human condition, which I intend to portray without reservation.”
Considered one of opera’s most powerful and iconic works since it was first staged in 1900, Tosca, set in Rome 1800, tells a social-political tale revolving around Floria Tosca, a fast-tempered diva. Mr. Doss takes on Baron Scarpia, a sadistic chief of police, quick to abuse his power and make unwanted sexual advances to Floria when seeking his help and mercy for her lover (Cavaradossi) and a political fugitive (Cesare Angelotti).
Insights from Mr. Doss on Puccini’s Tosca and his upcoming stage work with the WNO can be found in a soon to be released video interview.
Past acclaim for Scarpia performance
Celebrated by critics and audiences alike for his signature performances as Méphistophélès in Faust and the title roles in Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth and The Flying Dutchman, as well as Amonasro in Verdi’s Aida, Mr. Doss reprises Scarpia, building on his past renditions, such as Oper Frankfurt’s staging of Tosca, a five-performance run conducted by Steven Mercurio.
While lesser known to some admirers of Mr. Doss’ career, his interpretation of Scarpia has garnered considerable praise. In a review from Boston Lyric Opera’s production of Tosca (with conductor Stephen Lord and Maria Spacagna in the lead role), critic Richard Dyer wrote in The Boston Globe (excerpts):
“There was one outstanding performance, by Mark S. Doss as Scarpia … Doss has made his career in bass roles – he was Mephisto in last year’s “Faust” – but he commands the top range for Scarpia; with resonant, wide-open tones he sang every note of a part that is often barked. Subtle he wasn’t, but Scarpia isn’t a notably subtle character. Doss also has the physique and imagination to dramatize the element of sexual appetite and danger….”
Subsequently, Mr. Doss took on the role with the Cleveland Opera under the direction of legendary conductor and composer Anton Coppola, cousin of film director Francis Ford Coppola. Recounting work during that production, Mr. Doss said Coppola, the distinguished maestro, then 81, encouraged him to take every opportunity to perform Scarpia.
“The maestro expressed to me at the curtain call of our dress rehearsal: “You should make this YOUR ROLE!,” Mr. Doss says. “Following the ensuing performance, he again commented at the final curtain, saying: “This IS your role!”
Noteworthy mentors, education for role
A number of industry figures have mentored Mr. Doss in playing Scarpia. He studied the role at Indiana University under both Walter Cassel, famed for his Scarpia performance at the MET, and basso opera singer Nicola Rossi-Lemeni in workshop sessions. Both performers had been stage partners with the late Maria Callas, considered by many to be the most famous Tosca.
In preparation for his first career performance in Tosca, Mr. Doss turned to other career supporters for their insights about other Scarpia performers and their techniques, which led him to reach out to Chicago’s Monastero Family. Known for their support of the Windy City’s performing arts scene and its up-and-coming artists, the family and their famed Monastero’s Ristorante initiated the Bel Canto Foundation and its annual competition which ran for many years, with Mr. Doss being one of its Grand Prize winners. Visiting with Salvatore Monastero, he provided Mr. Doss with insights about Tito Gobbi, famous for his stage work as Scarpia, when the two had worked together on another of the foundation’s initiatives.
“Salvy was the videographer of a Bel Canto seminar in Busseto, Italy, where Tito Gobbi was giving instruction, teaching alongside Verdi tenor, the late Carlo Bergonzi, one of my formative instructors, and Renata Tebaldi, another renowned Tosca,” Mr. Doss says. “He showed me the raw recording sessions, which, together with his insights, gave me perspective on the dramatic aspects of Tito’s Scarpia, including posture and bearing.”
Tosca dates, locations
Performance dates announced for the WNO production of Tosca include Cardiff (February 9, 11 (matinee); 16, 21, & 23); Birmingham (March 8); Southampton (March 22 & 23), Plymouth (March 29 & 30), Milton Keynes (April 4 & 6); Bristol (April 11 & 13) and Llandudno (April 18 & 20, 2018).
Recent and upcoming performances
Mr. Doss’ debut with the WNO in Puccini’s Tosca follows on his recent return to London’s prestigious Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) as Alfio in Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana.
During Tosca’s run with the Welsh National Opera, Mr. Doss will also take on the role of Amfortas in Wagner’s Parsifal with Opera Poznan (Poznan, Poland) in March and, following his time with the WNO, he will be on stage in the Drozdoff Society’s Recital Series (Connecticut, New York, New Jersey) in May and as Cadmus in Hans Werner Henze’s Die Bassariden at Sala Sinfonica (Madrid, Spain) in June. In October, he will take to the stage of the Dallas Opera in The Flying Dutchman, an original production by the Canadian Opera Company.
Additional details about the performances can be found at www.marksdoss.com in the upcoming events section.
Media and industry recognition
In recent years, Mr. Doss’ performances and storied career have earned him significant media attention. TV appearances include ABC, NBC, FOX, KPBS, CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, CBC Toronto, Rogers TV, and OMNI, as well as an array of print and radio interviews (The Chicago Sun-Times, The National Post, The Toronto Star, NPR-KUSC Los Angeles, WUSF Tampa, and Radio Canada International, amongst others).
In addition to his Grammy, Mr. Doss is a recipient of the prestigious Entertainment Award from Planet Africa, recognizing his achievements both as an artist and for being a positive role model for youth, both in Canada and in the United States.
You can connect with Mark S. Doss through his Facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Mark-S-Doss/78423203990), watch his YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/marksdoss) and follow him @marksdoss on Twitter (http://twitter.com/marksdoss).
ABOUT MARK S. DOSS:
Mark S. Doss (www.marksdoss.com) is a celebrated bass-baritone whose accomplishments include a Grammy Award for his work on the recording of Semele (Handel), and numerous engagements with the famous Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy. Mr. Doss began his musical studies to aid in his ambitions to become a Catholic priest, but instead found opera to be his true calling. He has since emerged as one of the opera world’s leading singers, performing nearly 100 stage roles to date with more than 60 major opera companies around the globe.