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Free Showings of HGO's Tosca at Miller Outdoor Theatre

Puccini's classic opera Tosca, celebrated and by some adored for all the death it contains — well, besides the great music — will be presented in Houston with an added punch, according to baritone Weston Hurt, who'll sing the Scarpia role. 

"When Tosca kills me in the second act, she doesn't just stab me once," Hurt says. "She stabs me in the neck, the kidneys, and then she slits my throat."

All this taking place, of course, in the pastoral setting that is Miller Outdoor Theatre courtesy of Houston Grand Opera. 

This version of Tosca retains all the love, lust and revolutionary intrigue of the original but has been moved to a 1920s Rome, and the Scarpia character becomes a mob boss, rather than the police officer he was as Puccini wrote it.  There's also an added twist at the end involving Tosca herself, one Hurt wouldn't reveal. 

There will be free performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre in a two-night free offering from Houston Grand Opera to the Houston area community and one night the following week at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, where there will be some paid and some free seating.

Scarpia lusts after the diva Tosca (soprano Kelly Kaduce), she of the enchanting voice and unfortunate jealousy of her lover, the painter Cavaradossi (tenor Chad Shelton).

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“Scarpia is a calculated evil person, intelligent and brutal,” says Hurt, who grew up in Spring, sang in the Klein Oak High School choir (while also playing football and lacrosse) and went on to study music at Juilliard. Scarpia has a team of henchmen doing his bidding. Despite this, there are certain attractive qualities about the mob boss, or his scenes with Tosca just won't work, says Hurt.

This will be the first time Hurt performs on the Miller stage, although he remembers going  to the Fourth of July program there as a kid. 

The same cast will perform at all three shows; they were one of two casts when the opera was produced at the Wortham Theater Center last October, and Hurt says this is doable if they pace themselves. 

Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. May 20 and 21 at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information call 281-373-3386 or visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  And 8 p.m. Friday May 27 at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. For information, call 281-364-3010 or visit woodlandscenter.org. $20 orchestra, Free mezzanine and lawn seating.

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