April 04, 2022

Talking with Tosca

It's safe to say that Chicago has welcomed Michelle Bradley with open arms. "Bradley in her Lyric debut is every bit Thomas' equal, hitting every high note and compellingly conveying Tosca's tragic poignancy and unflinching mettle," said the Chicago Sun Times following opening night of Puccini's Tosca. "She is completely convincing when she stabs Scarpia and spits the words, 'Die and be damned.'"

We sat down with the Kentucky-born soprano to talk about how it feels to make her Lyric and role debut, her take on Puccini's tempestuous diva, and the inspiring team making this production happen.

How does it feel to be making your Lyric debut?

Surreal. This has been one of the greatest opportunities of my career thus far. I have also felt so welcomed here. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is such a warm house. I am really enjoying my time here.

Michelle Bradley as Floria Tosca and Fabián Veloz as Baron Scarpia

How do you prepare, vocally but also dramatically, for a role like Tosca?

Tosca requires all of me. During rehearsals I sang full out in order to make sure that I had the stamina to perform this wonderful role. I also make sure to get plenty of rest. I have to keep my energy high for Tosca. I also read through the libretto like a script. The words tell me what to do on stage, but I also mentally relive some of my life experiences in order to bring the emotions I need to convey.

This production has some serious girl-power behind it. What has that experience been like for you?

Working with director Louisa Muller and Maestro Eun Sun Kim has been very inspiring for me. I have enjoyed working with such dedicated, intelligent women who are superb in their respective fields. I am learning so much about attention to details. Both of them are very meticulous in their work and I have really enjoyed dissecting the music and character of Tosca. They have given me a great foundation to work from.

Michelle Bradley as Floria Tosca and tenor Russell Thomas as Mario Cavaradossi

What has been your favorite thing about working with Russell Thomas?

I like colleagues that I can play and joke with. Russell is serious and professional, but I also like that we can be lighthearted together. I find that quality so helpful and it relieves a lot of stress.

What do you want people to know about your Tosca? Who is she? What is her defining characteristic?

My Tosca is passionate. I think that's what defines her. She loves life and she is a fighter. She is determined and lives on her terms. She does everything with her whole being; whether she loves or hates. There is no gray area with her. I love that about her!

Bradley's voice is extraordinary, a rich, creamy soprano, evenly and seemingly effortlessly produced across her range. Her resplendent singing enlivened every moment...

Chicago Classical Review

March 12 – April 10, 2022



A diva who has all of Rome at her feet. A woman who takes charge of her life and fights for what she wants. A heroine who is brave and loving, extravagantly emotional, yet utterly irresistible. Floria Tosca is all these things. She’s loved by Mario Cavaradossi, the revolutionary, and lusted after by Baron Scarpia, Rome’s vicious police chief. Puccini’s lushly grand-scale music illuminates these characters, and the entire opera bursts with a theatricality that makes Tosca a favorite of audiences everywhere.

Header photo: Michelle Bradley in the final scene of Puccini's Tosca. Credit: Cory Weaver

All other photos: Todd Rosenberg, Cory Weaver