Media Release

Abu Dhabi Festival Stages Puccini’s Iconic Tosca in a Magnificent Evening of Grand Opera

 Spectacular concert production features Grammy Award-winning Sir Bryn Terfel’s return to the Abu Dhabi Festival, sharing the stage with Kristine Opolais and Vittorio Grigolo


(Abu Dhabi, UAE: 16 March 2019): The Abu Dhabi Festival 2019 welcomed audiences to a spectacular, sell-out performance of the classic Puccini opera, Tosca, an epic tale of love, corruption, intrigue and murder, featuring an array of the world’s finest talent.


In the role of Scarpia, Grammy award-winning Welsh bass-baritone, Sir Bryn Terfel, made a triumphant return to the Abu Dhabi Festival, having previously performed in 2013. He was joined by Kristine Opolais singing Tosca and Vittorio Grigolo singing Cavaradossi in a dynamic collaboration that encapsulated the passion and drama of this classic tale. Performing the powerful and moving score, and sharing the stage with the singers, was Welsh orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru and C.Ô.R., the Welsh choir, conducted by the hugely respected Gareth Jones.


Adding to the visual drama of the performance, vivid and descriptive video projection around the auditorium at Emirates Palace placed the action firmly in Rome during 1800, accurately portraying the paranoia and political upheaval that forms the backdrop of Puccini’s masterpiece.


H.E. Huda Ibrahim Alkhamis, Founder of ADMAF and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival said: “To be able to welcome Sir Bryn Terfel back to the Abu Dhabi Festival is both an honour and a significant achievement, considering the enormous demands constantly placed upon him and his co-performers worldwide. This production of a legendary tale served to showcase the unrelenting passion and talent for opera, classical music and the arts that thrives in Wales, with an ensemble cast that brought the best of the country to Abu Dhabi.


“Sir Bryn’s vocal talents and stage presence are unquestionable, and his warmth of character never fails to shine through with humour and a genuine love for what we do at the Festival. The Sinfonia Cymru Orchestra and C.Ô.R. Choir shone just as brightly, demonstrating the unmistakable Welsh passion for culture and creativity, and I hope that soon we will see their return to the UAE, where they will always be welcomed with our own unique hospitality. Those of us fortunate to witness this production of Tosca will never forget it – something Abu Dhabi Festival always strives to achieve. We ensure that world-class artists can be enjoyed by audiences here in the UAE, and the rapturous reception these ambassadors for their own countries receive is testament to our efforts.”


H.E. Astra Kurme, Latvian Ambassador to the UAE said: “Musical tradition is in our nation’s genes. This is the reason why so many musical talents – very well known on international stages – are coming from Latvian National Opera. Kristīne Opolais is a typical Latvian girl – beautiful and talented, strong and emotional. She radiates true emotions in every performance, in every role she interprets. We are happy and honoured to welcome Kristīne Opolais in Abu Dhabi.”


H.E. Liborio Stellino, Italian Ambassador to the UAE said: “According to Giacomo Puccini, “Art is a kind of illness”, and we have been exposed to the contagious passion and drama of his most iconic opera in Abu Dhabi. We have been delighted to admire – thanks to the tireless enthusiasm of H.E. Huda Ibrahim Alkhamis – the always beloved experience of Tosca and the talent of one of our most gifted tenors, Vittorio Grigolo and we are proud, as the Embassy of Italy, to co-host this magic season of the Abu Dhabi Festival!”


H.E. Patrick Moody, UK Ambassador to the UAE said: “Having recently seen the Welsh National Opera artists perform at our St David’s Day Event in Dubai, I am delighted that Sir Bryn Terfel, CBE, the Welsh bass-baritone has returned to the Abu Dhabi Festival to perform in TOSCA. This is another demonstration of how the UK and UAE collaborate in a celebration of the arts.”


Running until 30 March 2019, Abu Dhabi Festival will continue to bring a line-up of globally renowned artists to the capital, including a special collaboration with the Special Olympics World Games and Special Olympics Korea for a special concert entitled Stand Up For Inclusion on 16 March, featuring eclectic performances by a specially selected group of people of determination from Korea and joined by famed soprano and Grammy Award-winner, Sumi Jo. The headline programme will continue with an astonishing performance of Sombras by Sara Baras, the world’s most famous flamenco artist on 21 March, and will conclude with two exceptional renditions of George Balanchine’s masterpiece, Jewels, by The Paris Opera Ballet on 29 and 30 March.


The Abu Dhabi Festival is presented and organised by Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation. ADMAF is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that seeks to nurture the arts, education, culture and creativity for the benefit of society and advancement of Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision.