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Meeting Tosca and The Merry Widow

Our new Autumn season isn’t far away, and we’ve been shooting the stars…

We caught up with leading ladies Giselle Allen (Floria Tosca*, Tosca) and Máire Flavin (Hanna Glawari**, The Merry Widow) on our recent promotional photoshoot to find out a little about their characters, and what they are most looking forward to about starting rehearsals.

Tell us a bit about your character. 

Giselle: Tosca is the Grand Diva of the time. She is hugely celebrated for her singing and is very famous. As with most divas, she is very passionate, very talented and knows her worth. She is very loving but also gets extremely jealous of her lover Cavaradossi having anything to do with other women and she can be quite insecure because she loves him so much. She is fiery and loyal and very religious also, going to pray every day and laying flowers for the virgin. She is a ‘high maintenance’ kind of girl!

Máire: Hanna is a rich widow but was not in love in her first marriage and in fact has always been in love with the same man but his family felt she was not of his class, perhaps now is her chance to be with her true love. She is made of strong stuff and though happy to flirt and play the beautiful rich woman, she is no one’s fool and knows what she wants. She also has a great sense of fun and is extremely loyal and caring.

Giselle Allen backstage on Tosca photoshoot © Opera North

Do you have a favourite moment in the score and why? 

Giselle: My favourite part is probably most of Act II and the confrontation with Scarpia. The music builds to such a climax and is very intense and demanding of both singers. The energy between these two characters is huge and Tosca goes through so many emotions in this Act. The final confrontation where she kills Scarpia is fantastic and very empowering – you have to push yourself to extremes and I love that.

Máire: As this is a role debut for me I am still finding new moments to fall in love with each time I open the score. ‘Vilja Lied’, one of Hanna’s main arias where she recounts a love story to her party guests always pulls at my heartstrings.

Máire Flavin backstage on The Merry Widow photoshoot © Opera North

What are you most looking forward to about starting rehearsals? 

Giselle: I am looking forward to singing this fabulous score and finding the relationships and dynamics between the characters. I love developing Tosca further, each time I play her I discover another layer. I’m also looking forward to working with the director (Edward Dick) – seeing his take on her will be exciting, and being on stage again with Rob (Hayward, singing Scarpia) and Rafael (Rojas, singing Cavaradossi) is going to be fun!

Máire: As a lyric soprano I often play tragic or troubled lead females so I am looking forward to getting stuck into something more FUN! I also can’t wait to dance!! This really is a full on show with dance routines, witty dialogue and great tunes – so never a dull moment!

Look out for our final images by photographer Guy Farrow coming soon, and find out more about Tosca and The Merry Widow.

*Giselle Allen sings Tosca in Leeds, Newcastle ex 23 Oct, Salford
**Máire Flavin sings Hanna Glawari in Leeds


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