Tosca by Puccini @Metropolitan Opera, New York
October 25, 2018 - April 6, 2019
Met favorite Sondra Radvanovsky and rising star Jennifer Rowley share the title role of the volatile diva at the heart of Puccini’s operatic thriller. Joseph Calleja brings his stylish tenor to the role of Cavaradossi, Wolfgang Koch is the nefarious police chief Scarpia, and Carlo Rizzi conducts Sir David McVicar’s resplendent production.
Puccini’s melodrama about a volatile diva, a sadistic police chief, and an idealistic artist has offended and thrilled audiences for more than a century. Critics, for their part, have often had problems with Tosca’s rather grungy subject matter, the directness and intensity of its score, and the crowd-pleasing dramatic opportunities it provides for its lead roles. But these same aspects have made Tosca one of a handful of iconic works that seem to represent opera in the public imagination. Tosca’s popularity is further secured by a superb and exhilarating dramatic sweep, a driving score of abundant melody and theatrical shrewdness, and a career-defining title role.
No opera is more tied to its setting than Tosca, which takes place in Rome on the morning of June 17, 1800, through dawn the following day. The specified settings for each of the three acts—the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, Palazzo Farnese, and Castel Sant’Angelo—are familiar monuments in the city and can still be visited today. While the libretto takes some liberties with the facts, historical issues form a basis for the opera: the people of Rome are awaiting news of the Battle of Marengo in northern Italy, which will decide the fate of their symbolically powerful city.
The score of Tosca (if not the drama) itself is considered a prime example of the style of verismo, an elusive term usually translated as “realism.” The typical musical features of the verismo tradition are prominent in Tosca: short arias with an uninhibited flood of raw melody, ambient sounds that blur the distinctions between life and art, and the use of parlato—words spoken instead of sung—at moments of tension.
PRODUCTION – Sir David McVicar
SET & COSTUME DESIGNER – John Macfarlane
LIGHTING DESIGNER – David Finn
MOVEMENT DIRECTOR – Leah Hausman
REVIVAL STAGE DIRECTOR – Jonathon Loy
CONDUCTOR – Carlo Rizzi
TOSCA – Sondra Radvanovsky / Jennifer Rowley
CAVARADOSSI – Joseph Calleja
SCARPIA – Wolfgang Koch
SACRISTAN – Patrick Carfizzi / Philip Cokorino