Floria Tosca, the Italian opera diva and title figure in Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Tosca,” is one of the more challenging roles in the soprano repertory. She’s hotblooded, passionate, a little flighty, deeply loving. She commits murder for the man she loves, then plunges to her death when he, too, dies. All the while, she’s singing full throttle.
“I didn’t realize how much fun she was,” Patricia Racette says.
Clearly not everyone has the same idea of fun. But Racette, a 46-year-old American soprano in what she describes as “the meat of her career,” is having a ball.
Opera singers are stereotyped as being overblown, larger than life, divas; and the stereotyped reaction of people outside the opera world, on meeting them in person, is to realize how far many of them veer from the stereotype. Racette, sitting in her subterranean dressing room at the Kennedy Center, preparing for a rehearsal for the Washington National Opera’s production of “Tosca,” which will open the company’s season Saturday night, certainly doesn’t scream “diva” to a casual observer. Onstage, she can project a waiflike, vulnerable quality; off it, she’s down-to-earth, with a big, warm smile and a ready laugh sometimes punctuated by a yelp when something strikes her as particularly funny.