August 19 –February 28

Tosca

Brutal reality in intimate chamber theatre

Intro

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The first sharp chords of Puccini’s popular opera Tosca take us into a world of political unrest, torture and merciless power games. At the centre of the action is the Chief of Police, Scarpia – one of the true bad boys of the operatic world. For him, cruelty goes hand in hand with his erotic appetite – particularly for the singer Floria Tosca. While her lover, the painter Mario Cavaradossi, is tortured, Scarpia explains that the price for Cavaradossi’s release from political imprisonment is Tosca herself. 

Puccini presents Scarpia’s dark disharmonies in crass contrast to the loving pair’s beautiful arias and duets, such as Cavaradossi’s well-known tower aria and Tosca’s ‘Vissi d’arte’.

In his new production, our first permanent Guest Director Calixto Bieito focuses on the intense and intimate chamber play that is spun around these three characters, in addition to the brutal reality that the opera actually depicts.

Tosca first premiered in Rome in 1900, and is set during Napoleon’s siege of Italy a hundred years earlier. The opera’s themes, however, are timeless. Scarpias can be found everywhere in the form of individuals in positions of power with a seemingly friendly demeanour, but whose friendliness is simply a means of gaining control and ascendancy.

For the 2016/17 season we present three works that constitute clear protests against war, torture and political persecution, but from different times and in a variety of musical styles: Beethoven’s Fidelio, Puccini’s Tosca and Britten’s War Requiem.

  • Premiere discussion
  • Free introduction one hour before the performance

 

 

  • Music Giacomo Puccini
  • Libretto Luigi Illica og Giuseppe Giacosa
  • Conductor Karl-Heinz Steffens
  • Director Calixto Bieito
  • Set designer Susanne Gschwender
  • Costume designer Anja Rabes
  • Lighting Designer Michael Bauer
  • Dramaturg Bettina Auer

    Roles

    Main roles

    • Baron Scarpia, politisjef

      Claudio Sgura
      Playing the following days
      • 11. Jun 2017
      • 14. Jun 2017
      • 17. Jun 2017
      • 20. Jun 2017
      • 24. Jun 2017
    • Mario Cavaradossi, kunstner

      Daniel Johansson
      Playing the following days
      • 11. Jun 2017
      • 14. Jun 2017
      • 17. Jun 2017
      • 20. Jun 2017
      • 24. Jun 2017
    • Floria Tosca, sanger

      Svetlana Ignatovich
      Playing the following days
      • 11. Jun 2017
      • 14. Jun 2017
      • 17. Jun 2017
      • 20. Jun 2017
      • 24. Jun 2017

    Other roles

    Akt 1

    Angelotti, en politisk fange, har flyktet fra fengselet og gjemmer seg i kirken. Kunstneren Cavaradossi vender tilbake for å jobbe med en installasjon der jomfru Maria utgjør midtpunktet. Cavaradossi feirer kunstens frihet, mens "Il Sagrestano" oppfatter denne kritisk tenkende kunstneren som ytterst suspekt. Idet Angelotti våger seg ut fra gjemmestedet sitt, gjenkjenner Cavaradossi sin revolusjonære venn og vil hjelpe ham. Da kommer plutselig Cavaradossis kjæreste, sangeren Tosca. Hun blir straks glødende sjalu på kvinnen som framstiller Maria, men Cavaradossi beroliger Tosca og lover å møte henne samme kveld. Straks hun har gått, tilbyr Cavaradossi Angelotti et skjulested i villaen sin og tar ham med dit. "Il Sagrestano" forkynner nyheten om at de reaksjonære skal ha seiret over republikanerne, og nå skal seieren få en offisiell feiring. På jakt etter den flyktede Angelotti finner politisjef Scarpia flere ledetråder. Da Tosca vender tilbake, utnytter Scarpia hennes sjalusi for å komme på sporet av rømlingen. Scarpia lar seg beruse av sin egen plan om å erobre Tosca og sørge for at Cavaradossi blir drept, mens etablissementet feirer.

    Akt 2

    Scarpias agenter Spoletta og Sciarrone kunne ikke finne Angelotti, men de har arrestert Cavaradossi. Da han blir forhørt av Scarpia samme natt, nekter han for alt. Tosca har sunget for dronningen, og nå kommer hun inn. Også hun besvarer Scarpias spørsmål med taushet. Men når kjæresten blir torturert og hun ikke holder ut skrikene hans mer, avslører hun hvor Angelotti skjuler seg. Sciarrone provoserer Cavaradossi med falske nyheter om republikanernes endelige seier over de reaksjonære rojalistene. Kunstneren jubler, og Scarpia viser ham bort etter å ha gitt ordre om at han skal henrettes. Så lar han Tosca forstå at hvis hun gir seg over til ham, kan hun redde sin elskede. Men idet han krever sin pris, dolker Tosca ham.

    Akt 3

    Tidlig om morgenen blir Cavaradossi ført bort for å henrettes. Lenket og mishandlet blir han overmannet av minnene om sin elskede. Da Tosca kommer, prøver hun å berolige ham: Henrettelsen er bare et spill, og et leidebrev fra Scarpia skal gjøre det mulig for dem å flykte. Spoletta og Sciarrone ydmyker kunstneren på det groveste. Tosca og Cavaradossi er fullstendig ødelagt, men må leve videre, mens «system Scarpia» hylles av tilhengerne.

    Bettina Auer

     

    Interview with Bieito

    Introduksjonsforedrag Tosca ved Ragnhild Kristina Motzfeldt
    Premieresamtale

    The art of setting ourselves free

    Calixto Bieito has laughed heartily at Tosca, but refuses to allow the opera to descend into pure entertainment. He now wants to free Puccini’s popular work from operatic clichés.

    “As a little boy, I listened to Tosca on a cassette with my brother, over and over again. And we cried, my brother and I.”

    What was it that made you cry?
    “The music – the music in the final scene. Oh, how we cried! But when I was older, perhaps around 17, and saw Tosca performed on stage, I had to laugh when it came to the final scene.”

    You laughed at the suicide scene?
    “I’d heard the story of the stage crew who’d replaced the mattress Tosca was supposed to land on when she jumps from Castel Sant’Angelo with a trampoline, and the idea of a bouncing soprano at the moment of death was incredibly comical. But the music has always touched me deeply, and continues to do so.”

    What’s special about the music in Tosca?
    “Puccini’s musical dramaturgy is highly conventional. The music follows the action and characters’ emotions very closely. It’s verismo – opera in a realistic style – intended to reflect a given reality. But I like the opportunity to move away from this – to remove the historical-realistic plot and focus on the people and what happens between them. I want to release the characters from operatic clichés, but without ruining the opera and the power still inherent within it.

    Dream and reality

    Tosca is set in specific locations in Rome, during a specific period in European history. Together with detailed stage directions, this has created a clear idea of how the work should be staged, with the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle and its altarpiece, Scarpia’s desk, the candles which Floria Tosca ritualistically lights around the body, the starry night and the infamous jump from the castle walls. Bieito wishes to open up the work by making it more abstract – more dream-like. But this is also a portrayal of the reality the director observes around himself today.

    “This is a story about our time, with its oppressive power-seekers who control the world. It’s grotesque.”

    Calixto Bieito refers to Spanish writer Javier Marías, who on 21 May 2017 published the article ‘La peligrosa parodia’ – ‘The dangerous parody’ – in El País. Here, Marías describes how international politicians seen in the news on a daily basis appear as grotesque characters we are able to parody, which helps us to keep them at a distance.

    “And for many, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were also grotesque parodies. But in retrospect, we know what happened. Many of today’s politicians don’t care about the people. Like Scarpia in Tosca – he doesn’t give a damn about anyone or anything, as long as his own needs are satisfied. Scarpia consumes women, he wants to have sex with Tosca, to then just throw her away and replace her with someone else. And unfortunately, the world is full of such people,” says Bieito, and refers to the recording of Donald Trump stating ‘I'm automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.’

    Do you think there are more of these types of people now than when Puccini created the work?
    “Yes, I think the tendency is stronger now. Ethics within our society are being eroded.”

    Provocation and entertainment

    In Bieito’s version of the opera, Mario Cavaradossi is still an artist, but his paint brushes are replaced with an installation that provokes Scarpia.

    Is Cavaradossi seeking to provoke?
    “No, he wants to be free and experiment. I imagined the artistic partnership between Tosca and Cavaradossi like that of Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely. They collaborated on projects and installations for several decades. And I thought that the work Cavaradossi creates using tape and the Virgin Mary in the first act could have happened in a Metro station in Paris or in Manhattan. He just wants to create something crazy, there and then. They’re young, happy people who just want to be free, both when creating and when loving.

    ‘Vissi d’arte’, sings Tosca in the second act – ‘I lived for art’. For Bieito, this is the work’s most important sentence.
    “The young artists are being suffocated by the system that surrounds them, which wants to force them into a simplified, kitschy image of what an artist is or what art can and should do.”

    Does this relate to the world we’re currently living in?
    “We’re living in a time in which free art is constantly under threat, reduced to pure entertainment, something that simply satisfies – which people want and consume.”

    So you’re criticising art as entertainment using one of the greatest commercial successes in opera history?
    “Yes, it’s fun, I like it.”

    But in your production, it’s Scarpa who triumphs in the end. Is this a kind of warning?
    “No, it’s a portrayal of what I see – an economic system which is suppressing artistic freedom. Have you noticed how in a number of magazines, the section that was previously entitled ‘Art’ is now called ‘Entertainment’ or ‘Art & Leisure’?”

    What’s wrong with art entertaining?
    “I'm not against having fun, but it can’t only be about having fun. Art should make us think and awaken our entire spectrum of emotions. That’s how it can set us free.”

    In what way?
    “It gives us the opportunity to test and experiment with our feelings, which I think makes us all better people. Art challenges us by not providing clear answers, and thereby forces us to think, while entertainment simply points us in a single direction and says, ‘forget everything’. It’s like a numbing drug.”

    The operatic punch

    The Catalan director has a long-standing relationship with Norway, and with Oslo in particular. He directed Peer Gynt (2006), The Abduction from the Seraglio (2007) and Brand (2008) at the Bergen International Festival. The latter was also performed at the National Theatre, where he was also responsible for A Dream Play (2014) and Mysteries (2016). In recent years he has been the Norwegian National Opera’s principle guest director, and produced The Tales of Hoffmann (2013), Carmen (2015) and War Requiem (2016). Opera is a genre that he has great belief in:

    “Opera shows art’s unrelenting ability to move us, including purely physically. To experience music is a bodily experience. The percussion instruments hit you right in the stomach, the music punches you in the chest – ‘boom!’ It’s fantastic.”

    In what ways does this experience influence your way of working with opera?
    “I don’t say very much to the singers. I don’t give them thoughts – I give them images. It’s also important for me to create a nice, relaxed atmosphere during rehearsals, where everything is possible and the performers’ bodies are not full of tension and stress, but freed by the music. When this happens, the unconscious flows to the surface, bringing with it thoughts and mental bodily expressions. Creating this freedom and initiating this flow – that’s my job.

    Do you feel free as an artist?
    “I’m free in rehearsals. Honestly, I don’t know whether I would have survived if I hadn’t been able to do what I do – without the opportunity to express myself I think I’d have been destroyed.

    Is that what happens to Floria Tosca in the final scene?
    “Yes, I think she goes mad. At the same time, she’s trying to calm her lover, in the same way many mothers tried to calm their sons and husbands who were arrested after the Spanish Civil War – ‘Don’t worry, nothing is going to happen,’ they said, ‘I’ve spoken to the captain.’ They said this to protect the men in their final moments – to protect their hope. But in actual fact everything is ruined, including for Tosca and Cavaradossi. The free artist ends up like a clown, a Ronald McDonald, a nothing.

    But they don’t die?
    “Actually, Puccini didn’t want Tosca to die. Allowing her to die is a more commercial ending, where things are resolved – she’s freed from suffering and we get to grieve. But it is possible to disappear or become nothing without dying physically – when you’re without human rights, work, freedom of expression and dignity. There are so many people who fall outside the societal system, even in a country like Norway. I’ve seen this myself when walking from Oslo Central Station to the Oslo Opera House.”

    He’s walked that route many times, but Tosca will be Calixto Bieito’s last production as principal guest director at The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet.

    “I’ve started to say farewell to many people here in Oslo, where I’ve spent some of the best years of my life. I’ll remember powerful rehearsals, the faces of fantastic singers, and the children of the Norwegian National Opera Children’s Chorus. You have an iconic opera house, but it’s what’s inside that has the potential to free us. I hope that performances here will continue to leave just as strong an impression as the opera house itself.”

     

     

     

     

    Av Mosco Carner
    Oversatt av Tor Tveite

    Tosca er ikke et musikkdrama i egentlig forstand, men snarere en forløper for det moderne musikkteateret. Selv om man her har forsøkt å legge betoningen på ordet «teater» – musikken slynger og bukter seg rundt handlingen med en slanges smidighet – viser det seg ved nærmere ettersyn at det er Puccinis musikk som gjør dramaet så levende. Sardou og hans drama har derimot gått i glemmeboka. I en tid der Salome, Wozzeck, Lulu og Elektra tilhører standardrepertoaret, er det vanskelig å forestille seg at Tosca framsto som en dristig nyvinning da verket ble oppført første gang (i Roma, 14. januar 1900).

    Scarpia

    Scarpia fortjener spesiell oppmerksomhet, ikke minst fordi Puccini her for første gang har skrevet en hovedrolle for baryton. Som den eneste av de tre hovedrollene blir Scarpia gjennomgående karakterisert med et eget musikalsk motiv. I motsetning til Wagner forandrer ikke Puccini ledemotivene etter skiftninger i stemningsleie. Han bruker dem ikke som psykologisk kunstgrep, men snarere som et kjennetegn for én eller flere personer. Behandlingen av Scarpia-motivet er et typisk eksempel på dette.

    Scarpias motiv

    Det forandrer aldri sin melodiske, harmoniske eller rytmiske struktur. Instrumenteringen er derimot vekslende. Motivet har strengt tatt ikke noe melodisk «ansikt», det er «umenneskelig» og gjenspeiler dermed Scarpias vesen på en fullkommen måte. Scarpia-motivet blir satt inn i operaen med en statisk strenghet som symboliserer denne skikkelsens ubønnhørlige, uforanderlige ondskap.

    Tosca

    Toscas fromme, religiøse vesen har Puccini fanget i en lang linje med vakker melodisk bue, som gjentar seg i arien i andre akt.

    Toscas motiv

    For den unge jenta i henne som drømmer om et elskovsrede på landet, «Non la sospiri la nostra casetta», har komponisten skapt et tema som kjennetegnes av en lett og yndig melodi.. Toscas ekstreme sjalusi bryter ut i det hektiske, opphakkete resitativet i scenen der hun gjør sin entré hos Cavaradossi, og i det første oppgjøret med Scarpia, der duetten «Ed io venivo» lar de første tragiske undertonene komme til uttrykk. I motsetning til Scarpia og Cavaradossi har Tosca bare fått tildelt én arie i hele operaen – «Vissi d’arte», der hun i sin fortvilelse bebreider Gud.

    Cavaradossi

    I et følelsesladd, utstrakt parti, «Quale occhio al mondo puo», blir kunstneren Cavaradossi direkte forførerisk framstilt; musikken ser ut til å springe ut av samme tematiske røtter som Toscas motiv. Til slutt blir de to forent i en inderlig, øm melodi som må regnes blant de vakreste eksemplene på Puccinis kjærlighetsmusikk.

    Cavaradossis motiv

    Forspillet til begge strofene av Cavaradossis første arie, «Recondita armonia», tegner et musikalsk bilde av den malende kunstneren med mykt flytende kvart- og kvintparalleller i treblåsere og harpe. Sin kjærlighet til Tosca uttrykker han i en myk musikk, der tankene går til Rodolfos «Nei cieli bigi» fra første akt av La bohème. De to ariene har den vuggende 6/8-takten og B-tonearten til felles. En ytterst sterk kontrast utgjør den andre tenorarien, «E lucevan le stelle». Dette er en typisk Puccinisk klagesang som karakteriseres av langsomt tempo, molltoneart og brudd i melodien i form av sørgmodige, fortvilte fall.

    Instrumentering

    I tillegg til temaene og motivene bidrar også Puccinis instrumentering til karaktertegningen. For eksempel følges Scarpia av dype strykere og treblåsere i de rolige avsnittene, og messingblåsere i full besetning kombinert med slagverk i dramatiske passasjer. Spesielt slående er komponistens bruk av kontrabassen etter at Scarpia blir myrdet av Tosca. Her har komponisten sannsynligvis studert den dystre effekten Verdi oppnådde med samme instrument i sluttscenen i Othello.

    Cavaradossi blir derimot i hovedsak ledsaget av varme, mykt klingende instrumenter som klarinett, horn og cello. Celloen blir i høy grad brukt for å skape en kammermusikalsk virkning, som i partiet for to solobratsjer og fire solocelloer i tredje akt der Cavaradossi skriver avskjedsbrevet sitt. Når Tosca skildres, er det høye strykere og lyse treblåsere (fløyte, obo og klarinett) som gjør seg gjeldende.

    Disse bemerkningene kan bare antyde generelle trekk i instrumenteringen, for Puccini blander de rike fargene på sin instrumentale palett med stor frihet og fantasi.

     

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    • Scene
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      Main House
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    August 2017

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    September 2017

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    February 2018

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