Tosca 2010


  • / 1 intermission
  • / Main House / Opera

Puccini's classic opera maintains its position of one of the world's most popular operas. Perhaps because Tosca has just about everything to offer: love, jealousy, lust, hate and intrigue. The background for the story is the Napoleonic entry into Northern Italy. The story takes place during one day, 17 June 1800. Central to the story is the painter Cavaradossi. After hiding political refugee Angelotti in the church where Cavaradossi is working on a portrait of Maria Magdalene, he is drawn into an intricate and brutal political intrigue dominated by Rome's powerful chief of police, baron Scarpia. Tosca gives us three of the most beautiful arias Puccini wrote: Cavaradossi's Recondita armonia, E lucevan le stelle and Tosca’s Vissi d’arte. The production is a co-production with the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, where Opera Director Paul Curran staged it in 2008. The production was made possible by a generous donation from Delia M. Moog.



Act I

The church of Sant’Andrea della Valle

The escaped political prisoner Cesare Angelottihides in the chapel of the Attavantifamily. A sacristan enters, and a little laterMario Cavaradossi, who sets to work on apainting of Mary Magdalene, in the likenessof a beautiful, blue-eyed, blonde woman hehad seen in the church earlier. The sacristanleaves, and Angelotti comes out and greetshis friend Cavaradossi, who asks him to goback into hiding, since his lover, the singerFloria Tosca, is coming.The locked door makes Tosca suspicious;she thinks Cavaradossi has another woman.He reassures her, and they arrange a trystthat evening. As she leaves, Tosca recognizesthe features of the marquise Attavanti inMary Magdalene, and becomes jealous. Cavaradossiagain calms her, and agrees to giveMary Magdalene dark eyes, like Tosca’s. Angelottirejoins Cavaradossi and tells him thatthe marquise is his sister. She had hidden akey and women’s clothes in the church so hecould hide and disguise himself. Cavaradossidirects him to a hiding place in the gardenwell of his villa. A cannon announces thatAngelotti’s escape has been discovered, andthe two men leave.The church is filling up with people celebratingthe news of Napoleon’s defeat atMarengo. The chief of police, Scarpia, arrivesin pursuit of Angelotti, and sees that the Attavantichapel is open. He understands how themarquise Attavanti helped her brother whenhe finds a fan with her crest and recognizesher in the painting. The sacristan identifiesthe artist as Cavaradossi, whom Scarpiaknows as a free thinker and Tosca’s lover.Tosca returns to cancel her tryst with Cavaradossi.Scarpia shows her the fan, insinuatingthat her lover is unfaithful. Tosca recognizesthe Attavanti crest, and is distraught ather lover’s apparent infidelity. She rushes offto confront him, and Scarpia orders his mento follow her. He has his eye on two prizes:hanging Angelotti and Cavaradossi, and winningTosca’s passionate embrace for himself.

Act II

Scarpia’s chambers in the Farnese Palace

Scarpia is dining. He gives Sciarrone a letterfor Tosca, asking her to come after herperformance. Spoletta enters to report thatAngelotti was not found at Cavaradossi’svilla. Cavaradossi is brought in, but refuses totalk. Tosca enters and rushes to embrace herlover, who tells her not to reveal anything toScarpia, before he is dragged to the adjoiningtorture chamber. Scarpia questions Tosca,but she gives no answers. Scarpia threatensto torture her lover until he confesses, oruntil she says what she knows. Cries of painare heard from the next room, and Tosca begsfor mercy. After another anguished cry fromher lover, Tosca tells Scarpia to look in thegarden well.As Cavaradossi is brought out of the torturechamber, Tosca assures him she hassaid nothing. When Scarpia orders his mento search the well in the garden, Cavaradossiunderstands what has happened, and cursesTosca for betraying him, but his angerturns to joy as Sciarrone enters with news ofNapoleon’s defeat of the reactionary forcesat Marengo. Scarpia sends Cavaradossi backto his cell to await execution, and returns tohis meal. Tosca asks the price for her lover’sfreedom, and is told that she herself is theprice. Her repulsion at this proposition fuelshis lust, and she sings the desperate prayer“Vissi d’arte.” She has lived for art, why doesGod repay her with misery?Spoletta brings the news that Angelotticommitted suicide when he was found. Thedisappointed Scarpia orders that the deadbody be hung from the gallows. Overcome byher sense of guilt, Tosca agrees to Scarpia’sdemands, on the condition that Cavaradossibe released at once. Scarpia tells her shemust wait, and pretends to arrange for a“fake” execution. Tosca also demands a safeconductfor herself and Cavaradossi. WhenScarpia, after writing the safe-conduct, risesto embrace Tosca, she stabs him with a knifefrom his table, saying: “This is Tosca’s kiss.”


Castel Sant’ Angelo

Cavaradossi is brought out to await the execution.He offers his jailer his ring – his lastworldly possession – to deliver a farewell letterto Tosca. As he writes, Cavaradossi is lostin nostalgic love for Tosca. To his surpriseand joy, she is brought in. She shows him thesafe-conduct, and tells him what happenedin Scarpia’s chamber, and how he should pretendto fall dead when the shots are fired.The firing squad enters and leads Cavaradossito the place of execution. He declinesa blindfold. Shots are fired and Cavaradossifalls. Tosca thinks he is play-acting, waits untileveryone has left, and calls him. He doesn’tget up, and Tosca understands that Scarpiadeceived her. Spoletta and Sciarrone cometo arrest Tosca. On seeing them, she runs tothe parapet and jumps to her death, shouting,“Scarpia, we shall meet before God!”

Giacomo Puccini

ble født i Toscana i Italia. Med sine mest berømte operaer La bohème, Tosca og Madama Butterfly ble han av mange regnet som Giuseppe Verdis etterfølger. I 1889 så Puccini det femaktersdramaet La Tosca, med Sarah Bernhardt i hovedrollen. Han skjønte riktignok ikke språket, men stykket gjorde likevel så inntrykk på ham at han raskt begynte å planlegge en opera basert på dette. Det viste seg at rettighetene først var solgt til komponisten Alberto Franchetti, så han kom ikke i gang med arbeidet før nesten ti år senere. Premieren fant sted i Roma i 1900. På samme måte som Wagner, brukte Puccini musikalske ledemotiver som knyttet oppmot personer og følelser. De tre akkordene som signaliserer åpningen på operaen blir brukt gjennomgående for å annonsere Scarpia på scenen, det fallende motivet i messingblåserne er knyttet til det undertrykkende regimet som regjerte i Roma i begynnelsen av operaen, og særlig til Angelotti, som et av regimets ofre. Den brutte harpeakkorden som høres når Tosca kommer og ved arien Vissi d’arte symboliserer kanskje Toscas religiøseinderlighet, mens klarinettens stigende og synkende skala indikerer Marios lidelse og hans skjebnesvangre kjærlighet til Tosca.

Fiore Lecture Show - Tosca