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Soprano Natalya Romaniw returns to Eden Court after performing at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen last week to sing in Inverness again with Scottish Opera in Puccini's opera Tosca– this time as tragic, brave heroine Tosca herself

By Margaret Chrystall

Rising opera star Natalya Romaniw will appear at Eden Court in the title role of Puccini’s grand opera Tosca in Scottish Opera’s dramatic 1980 revival production, set in 1940s Rome, when Tosca has an impossible choice to save her lover. Natalya, who is getting rave reviews as Tosca, answers Margaret Chrystall’s questions ...

Q What – to you, Natalya – makes Tosca a must-see opera for anyone who hasn’t seen or heard it before?

A I think Tosca is a must-see for its full, red-blooded music and its exciting plot! People who have yet to experience it are in for one huge emotional rollercoaster.

Scottish Opera's Tosca (Natalya Romaniw). Picture: James Glossop
Scottish Opera's Tosca (Natalya Romaniw). Picture: James Glossop

Q What are the most exciting elements for you as someone who will sing from the heart of the production?

A For me, Tosca is one of my most favourite heroines. As a singing actress, you have the luxury of exploring a lot of Tosca’s characteristics, which are hugely fun and rewarding to play. She has a feisty temperament and yet she can be so vulnerable. I love her and I love singing her journey to our audiences!

Q What are the challenges of singing and dramatising the role of Tosca?

A I think, initially – you have to be aware of the pacing of the role. It’s a big sing and along with the huge, soaring vocals over the orchestra, you also have the drama added, which can be tempting to give in to. I’ve worked extremely hard on finding the right balance of how to handle these moments but ultimately, in this role, there are lots of challenges for the soprano. You need to be a good technician.

Roland Wood as police chief Scarpia with the cast of Tosca. Picture: James Glossop
Roland Wood as police chief Scarpia with the cast of Tosca. Picture: James Glossop

Q We saw you here in Inverness last year in Eugene Onegin, a stunning production that got under the skin, with its sense of melancholy and tragedy. There were great reviews for you in your performance as Tatyana. Looking back, what has performing as part of that production brought to your suitcase of experience (dramatic, vocal, life)?

A I think playing Tatyana for me is much like coming home to a comfy pair of slippers! I’ve never felt more at home in a role and so connected to the character.

These roles need to exist in your repertoire because these are the roles where you learn so much from them each time you come back to them.

Q You have been called “Wales’s greatest operatic export since Bryn Terfel” – and lots of other lovely things! But whose opinion do you really value for a judgment that matters most when it comes to doing the best for your voice and making yourself the best singer you can be?

A Reviews can be lovely and I’ve certainly had some very nice things said about me, which do inspire confidence when everyone appears to be singing from the same hymn sheet! However, it’s not always like that – it can change at any moment.

The people you need to listen to whole-heartedly are your ‘team’. I have my very little empire of a small selection of teachers, coaches and colleagues that I trust implicitly. And that means I trust them to tell me the truth always, the good and the bad!

You have to keep learning in this business, there’s always so much more you can do. You have to keep on your game and how you do that is to keep working fiercely hard to provide the best you can offer.

Q Slightly random question now – if someone went to a grand international sale of items of interest to opera-goers, professionals and fans, planning to pick up something wonderful as a gift for you, what sort of thing would thrill you as the ultimate memento/ prize on your mantelpiece?!

A Ha – a little random! I wouldn’t expect anything from anyone really but I guess anything that would inspire me, would be a thoughtful gift!

Natalya Romaniw as Tosca. Picture: James Glossop
Natalya Romaniw as Tosca. Picture: James Glossop

Q What is your favourite moment just now at this early point in the production for your character in the opera?

A My favourite moment is when Tosca goes head to head with Scarpia in Act Two. It’s exhilarating music! I love it.

Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca comes to Eden Court on Tuesday, November 5, Thursday, November 7 and Saturday, November 9. It is sung in Italian with English supertitles (subtitles, but above the stage!). You can see an unwrapped performance on Friday at 6pm (£5); a pre-performance talk on Saturday at 6pm and a touch tour, also at 6pm on Saturday.

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