Tosca on stage

The Vancouver Opera will launch its 2013-2014 season with Puccini’s exhilarating masterpiece, Tosca. An opera cherished for its heart-wrenching melodies and filled with indestructible love, treachery, and murder, Tosca captures the events of a mere 17 hours in the year 1800—a time of political turmoil in Rome.

As the story goes, the cruel chief of police, Baron Scarpia, is consumed with desire for Floria Tosca, the city’s most celebrated singer. Using terror, extortion, and fraud, Scarpia threatens Tosca and imprisons her revolutionary lover, Mario Cavaradossi. Before Scarpia can have his way with Tosca, she plunges a knife into his heart. In the opera’s harrowing climax, the lovers are reunited, only to be betrayed, from the grave, by the evil Scarpia.

Set in a time of political and religious upheaval, Puccini’s masterful drama paints three unforgettable portraits: the fiery, pure-hearted Tosca; the passionate political idealist Mario; and the deeply depraved Scarpia. Puccini’s score is filled with soaring melody, authentic Roman atmosphere, and spellbinding tension.

Tosca on stage

Puccini’s Tosca was the last great 19th century opera. When Tosca was first produced in 1900, Puccini already had La bohème and Manon Lescaut under his belt and was being widely hailed as the heir to Verdi’s mantle. With Tosca, Puccini was on fire!

Tosca contains all the right elements for a great melodrama: sex, politics, and religion—a jealous diva; an artist willing to die to oppose tyranny; a depraved baron hiding a lust for dominance behind a mask of piety; love, jealousy, subterfuge, spies, violence, attempted rape, murder and betrayal. Add to that several of Puccini’s greatest arias and the luscious orchestration and it’s easy to see why Tosca has been one of the most frequently staged works in the operatic repertoire.

The character of Tosca is considered to be one of the composer’s most varied and interesting heroines, fit for great operatic actresses. The role was first performed by Sarah Bernhardt; singers of Maria Callas’ stature have created their own indelible interpretations of the operatic version.

Puccini said of Sardou’s play, upon which the opera is based, “in this Tosca I see the opera which exactly suits me, one without excessive proportions, one which is a decorative spectacle and one which gives opportunity for an abundance of music…”

With his uncanny sense of drama and his astonishing musical genius, Puccini delivered an abundance of thrilling music rarely equaled in intensity or effectiveness in his other operas.

Sopranos Michele Capalbo and Tamara Mancini will share the role of Floria Tosca, the celebrated and fiery singer. Michele Capalbo will be onstage for the October 26, 31, and November 2 performances while Tamara Mancini will sing the November 1 and 3 performances. Tosca will be both Ms. Capalbo’s and Ms. Mancini’s Vancouver Opera debuts.

Vancouver Opera Presents Tosca
Dates: October 26, 31, November 1 and 2; 7:30 pm; Sunday, November 3, 2 pm
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Georgia and Hamilton Streets, Vancouver
Tickets: $70 and up; available online, at the Vancouver Opera Ticket Office, or via phoning 604.683.0222

Photos courtesy of Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

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