5 things you need to know about Tosca

The full season of opera by Opera Australia is well and truly into the swing of things and next cab off the rank is everyone’s favourite, Tosca. The eternal story of war, love and betrayal at a fast pace has carved a reputable name for itself in the annals of history and these are the bits you need to know about it…

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Who wrote the classic?

Giacomo Puccini. Born in Tuscany in 1858, Puccini is an Italian composer who took Verdi’s crown as the most prominent composer of Italian opera in his day. Renowned for his love affairs, Puccini left a trail of broken hearts across Italy, but also left us music-lovers 10 beautiful operas, three of which are regularly in the top 10 operas performed around the world.

MORE: Puccini also wrote everyone’s beloved Turandot

Puccini’s music is sweeping, uplifting, enchanting and always intensely moving. His real genius, however, was to combine that music with stories about ordinary people.

The composer himself once said that his success was due to putting “great sorrows in little souls”.

SEE ALSO: The ultimate story of unrequited love by Puccini, Madama Butterfly

What the story is about

In a beautiful church, the painter Cavaradossi is working. When an escaped prisoner bursts in, Cavaradossi risks his own life to help Angelotti hide from the Fascist police. But Cavaradossi’s lover, Tosca, overhears him talking and becomes jealous. In spite of Cavaradossi’s ardent assurances of love, it is easy for the chief of police, Scarpia to fan the flames of her jealousy. He wants Tosca for himself.

Scarpia arrests Cavaradossi on suspicion of aiding Angelotti, and as he is tortured, Tosca is made to listen to his cries. She has a fateful choice before her: give into the hateful Scarpia’s lascivious demands and save her lover’s life, or save her honour and kill Cavaradossi. In that terrible moment, Tosca makes a choice, and the consequences play out in a heart-rending Act III.

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Who’re the characters?

Floria Tosca: a singer (soprano)

Mario Cavaradossi: a painter, Tosca’s lover (tenor)

Baron Scarpia: Rome’s Chief of Police and the villain of the opera (baritone)

The arias and tunes you’ll know

‘Vissi d’arte’: the classic sung beautifully in Italian by Floria Tosca as she thinks of her fate, how the life of her beloved, Mario Cavaradossi, is at the mercy of Baron Scarpia and why God has seemingly abandoned her.

‘E Lucevan le stelle’: The ultimate song of lamentation sung by Mario Cavaradossi, a painter in love with the singer Tosca, while he waits for his execution on the roof of Castel Sant’Angelo.

Will you know it?

You might have heard both of these arias any time opera’s greatest hits are performed. If you’re a James Bond fan, you saw a whole scene from Tosca in the Daniel Craig film, Quantum of Solace.

Tosca is being performed at the Sydney Opera house from 17 February to 31 Marc. See more and buy tickets here.  

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