Welsh Baritone Jones Realises His Dream of Playing 'The Most Evil Villain in All of Opera' after Playing Pop Art's Leading Figure Andy Warhol, Baritone Paul Carey Jones Is Moving on to Someone Completely Different - Puccini's Villain Scarpia. He Tells Karen Price How He's Been Preparing to Tackle Such an Evil Role

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FOR the past 10 years Paul Carey Jones has been waiting to play the bad man of opera. Now the Welsh baritone is finally about to sing the role of Scarpia in a production of Tosca with a brand new opera company.

And he's relishing the chance to play the debauched police chief in the Puccini classic with Londonderry-based Northern Ireland Opera.

"It's something I've been thinking about for a couple of years," says Jones, 37, of the role.

"It's very much a case of finding the right time to go back into the practice room and work on things technically.

"In a sense it's almost like taking a step backwards to take two or three forward.

"I had become aware it was reaching a point where my voice was heading off in a slightly more grown-up and heavier direction."

When he first seriously started considering the role of Scarpia, Northern Ireland Opera didn't exist.

"It was all about finding the right opportunity to do it and then the new company got in touch with me about singing the part. It was one of those magical coincidences.

"He (Scarpia) is probably the most evil villain in all of opera. He has absolutely no redeeming features."

Jones, who now lives in London but regularly visits his family in Cardiff, studied totalitarian regimes of the 20th century while researching the role and among the figures he looked at was Lavrentiy Beria, who was Stalin's head of secret police during the '40s.

"The important thing to realise about playing someone who's that evil is that these people did exist - and still exist," he says.

"If you take them in the narrow context of opera they can seem fictional but you don't need to look too far to find examples of these people who do exactly that in real life.

"It's an uncomfortable place to take yourself from an acting point of view but as soon as you start taking the character seriously as a real person and look at the exact nature of villainy you enter the dark world of the human psyche.

"It's one thing being able to sing it but another thing being able to perform it with the intensity that the role, and the piece itself, demands from you."

Jones and the rest of the cast have spent a month in rehearsals for the performances, which will be staged in Londonderry from Thursday until Saturday. …