Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: Tosca
Radio Broadcast of Saturday, January 28, 1:00 P.M.
Scarpia (Falk Struckmann) in the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle
© Beatriz Schiller 2012
The 2011–12 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored by
Toll Brothers, America's luxury home builder®,
with generous long-term support from
The Annenberg Foundation and
the Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media,
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.
Music by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, after the play by Victorien Sardou
THE CAST (in order of vocal appearance)
Angelotti bass-bar., RICHARD
Sacristan bass, PAUL PLISHKA
tenor, ALEKSANDRS ANTONENKO
Floria Tosca soprano, PATRICIA RACETTE
Baron Scarpia bass, JAMES MORRIS
Spoletta tenor, JOEL SORENSEN
Sciarrone bass-bar., JAMES COURTNEY
Shepherd treble, NEEL RAM
Jailer bass, JEREMY GALYON
Conducted by MIKKO FRANCK
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Production: Luc Bondy
Set designer: Richard Peduzzi
Costume designer: Milena Canonero
Lighting designer: Max Keller
Stage director: Tomer Zvulun
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Musical preparation: Joan Dornemann,
Paul Nadler, Robert Morrison,
Assistant stage director: Jonathon Loy
Children's chorus director: Anthony Piccolo
Stage band conductor: Gregory Buchalter
Italian coach: Hemdi Kfir
Prompter: Joan Dornemann
||(Rome, June 1800)
||Sant'Andrea della Valle
Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel,
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,
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This performance is also being broadcast
live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on
SiriusXM channel 74.
Production a gift of
The Annenberg Foundation
Coproduction of the Metropolitan Opera;
Teatro alla Scala, Milan; and
Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich
ACT I. Cesare Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner, runs into the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle to hide in the family chapel. The Sacristan enters to pray and is interrupted by the painter Mario Cavaradossi, who has come to work on his portrait of Mary Magdalene — inspired by the Marchesa Attavanti, Angelotti's sister. Cavaradossi contrasts the beauty of the blond marchesa with that of his lover, the raven-haired singer Floria Tosca. When the Sacristan leaves, Angelotti ventures out and is recognized by the painter, who gives him food and hurries him back into the chapel as Tosca is heard outside. She jealously questions Cavaradossi, then prays and reminds him of their rendezvous that evening. When she recognizes the marchesa's likeness, her suspicions are renewed, but he reassures her. When she has left, Cavaradossi summons Angelotti, as a cannon signals that the police have discovered the escape; the two flee to Cavaradossi's villa. The Sacristan returns with choirboys who are about to sing a Te Deum. Their excitement is silenced by the entrance of Baron Scarpia, chief of the secret police, in search of Angelotti. When Tosca returns looking for her lover, Scarpia shows her the Attavanti crest on a fan he has found. Thinking Cavaradossi faithless, Tosca tearfully vows vengeance and leaves, as the church resounds with the Te Deum. Scarpia has the diva trailed, scheming to get her in his power.
Tosca (Racette) stands over the dying Scarpia
© Cory Weaver/Metropolitan Opera 2012
ACT II. In the Farnese Palace, Scarpia anticipates the pleasure of bending Tosca to his will. The spy Spoletta arrives; having failed to find Angelotti, he placates the baron by bringing in Cavaradossi, who is interrogated while Tosca is heard singing at a royal gala downstairs. She enters as her lover is led away to be tortured. Unnerved by his screams, she reveals Angelotti's hiding place. Cavaradossi is carried in; realizing what has happened, he rages at Tosca. When the gendarme Sciarrone rushes in to announce that Napoleon has won the Battle of Marengo, a defeat for Scarpia's side, Cavaradossi shouts his defiance and is dragged to prison. Scarpia suggests Tosca yield to him in exchange for her lover's life. Fighting him off, she protests her fate to God, saying she has dedicated her life to art and love. Spoletta interrupts: faced with capture, Angelotti has killed himself. Tosca accepts Scarpia's proposition. The baron orders a mock execution, and Spoletta leaves. Scarpia prepares a document of safe-conduct for the lovers. When he embraces her, Tosca stabs him with a knife from the table and slips out.
Tosca (Sondra Radvanovsky) after she murders Scarpia
© Beth Bergman 2012
ACT III. A Shepherd is heard singing as church bells toll the dawn. Cavaradossi is led to the roof of Castel Sant'Angelo to await execution; he bribes the jailer to convey a farewell note to Tosca. Writing it, overcome with memories of love, he gives way to despair. Suddenly Tosca runs in with the story of her encounter with Scarpia. Cavaradossi caresses the hands that committed murder for his sake, and the two hail the future. As the firing squad appears, the diva coaches her lover on how to fake his death convincingly; the soldiers fire and depart. Tosca urges Cavaradossi to hurry, but when he doesn't respond, she discovers Scarpia's treachery: the bullets were real. Spoletta rushes in to arrest Tosca. She climbs the battlements and, crying that she will meet Scarpia before God, leaps to her death.
Patricia Racette as Tosca in Luc
Bondy's Metropolitan Opera staging
© Cory Weaver/Metropolitan Opera 2012
Giacomo Puccini, the only Italian composer after Verdi to achieve lasting success with opera after opera, was born into a musical family in Lucca, near Florence. It was mainly at his mother's urging that he studied music as a young man. When he heard Aida — then still a novelty — he recognized the lyric theater as his calling and got a scholarship to study at the Milan Conservatory with Antonio Bazzini and Amilcare Ponchielli.
After the lyricism of Le Villi and La Bohème and the romance of Edgar and Manon Lescaut, Puccini felt ready for a full-blooded melodrama. In Tosca he succeeded so vividly that the score remains a prototype of its kind. As with Manon Lescaut and Bohème, Puccini lighted on a text already chosen by a rival composer, in this case Alberto Franchetti.
Puccini had to face a temperamental playwright, Victorien Sardou, sixty-five-year-old dean of the French theater and author of La Tosca. Sardou not only exacted an exorbitant fee but inundated Puccini with unsolicited advice. The composer had even more trouble with his librettists, Illica and Giacosa; the former had written on the lengthy side and refused to cut, while the latter found the melodrama lacking in poetry. Puccini had his way, eliminating two of Sardou's five acts.
A restless atmosphere preceded Tosca's world premiere, in Rome on January 14, 1900. The public was skeptical of a local subject set by an out-of-towner. Despite a bomb scare and a near-riot instigated by disgruntled latecomers trying to get seated, Tosca was performed — by Romanian diva Hariclea Darclée, tenor Emilio de Marchi and baritone Eugenio Giraldoni, with Leopoldo Mugnone conducting. The reception was mixed, but the opera soon established itself. The U.S. premiere, at the Met (Feb. 4, 1901), starred Milka Ternina, Giuseppe Cremonini and Antonio Scotti, with Luigi Mancinelli on the podium.
The Met's present production, by Luc Bondy, was unveiled on September 21, 2009, with James Levine pacing Karita Mattila, Marcelo Álvarez and George Gagnidze.
WHAT TO READ AND HEAR
Susan Vandiver Nicassio's Tosca's Rome: The Play and the Opera in Historical Perspective (University of Chicago) offers an insightful comparison between the worlds of Puccini, playwright Victorien Sardou and Napoleonic-era history. Also eminently useful are Mary Jane Phillips-Matz's Puccini: A Biography (Northeastern) and Julian Budden's Puccini: His Life and Works (Oxford).
Jonas Kaufmann offers "E lucevan le stelle" on his Romantic Arias recital (Decca); Bryn Terfel includes Scarpia among the villains on his new Bad Boys disc (DG). Victor de Sabata's 1953 recording, with Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano and Tito Gobbi in magnificent form, is one of the glories of the EMI catalogue. Leontyne Price is a glowing, vulnerable Tosca in Herbert von Karajan's 1963 recording with the Vienna Philharmonic (Decca). Of recorded Scarpias, Sherrill Milnes is the most convincingly virile (Decca), notably in his Act II confrontation with Mirella Freni's womanly Tosca, who at times seems ready to forsake Luciano Pavarotti's bright Mario.
The tight-focus drama of Tosca has made it a near-ideal opera for television and video. On DVD, Terfel is Scarpia in an unconventional Netherlands Opera staging (DG). In the 1985 broadcast of the Met's Franco Zeffirelli production, conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli, Plácido Domingo's superb Cavaradossi woos the energetic Tosca of Hildegard Behrens (DG).
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