The Metropolitan Opera continues its encore series of popular Live in HD transmissions from past seasons. The latest of these, Puccini’s historical melodrama Tosca, will be screened in cinemas in the United States (from August 4th) and the United Kingdom (from August 11th).
Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca – written in 1899 – was based on Victorien Sardou’s 1887 play, La Tosca, which featured the actress Sarah Bernhard in the title role. Set to a libretto by Luigi Illica and Guiseppe Giacosa, this dramatic tale of love, lust, political intrigue and corruption, takes place in 1800, when the control of Rome by the Kingdom of Naples was threatened by Napoleon’s invasion of Italy. It recounts the story of artist Mario Cavaradossi and the woman he loves, singer Floria Tosca, as they try to evade the corruption which was rife in the city of Rome at that time.
(Trailer for original production of Tosca in 2018):
Tosca premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on January 14th, 1900, and although it features some of the composer’s most beautiful and best known arias, it was apparently not particularly well received by the critics. The audiences, however, loved it, and still do.
This production by Sir David McVicar – new in 2018 when it was filmed – stars Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva as the tempestuous Tosca. Ms Yoncheva is currently appearing in a series of concerts and recitals in six different cities across Europe, following which she will appear in the title role of La Traviata at Arena di Verona, in concert at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, and at a Gala Concert at St Alexander Nevsky Square in Sofia, Bulgaria.
(Trailer for original cinema screening of Tosca in 2018):
Charismatic tenor Vittorio Grigolo is Tosca’s lover, the idealistic painter Mario Cavaradossi, whom she fights to save from the wiles of the sinister Baron Scarpia. Earlier this year, Vittorio Grigolo appeared with Ms Yoncheva at Arena di Verona in an evening of song, in which they performed some of the most beautiful love arias and duets written for opera, including Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, Verdi’s La Traviata and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Tosca.
Baritone Željko Lučić is Scarpia, the corrupt chief of police, who uses brutality to capture criminals and entrap his sexual conquests. Regarded as one of today’s foremost Verdi baritones, Mr Lučić has performed for major opera companies around the world, such as the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, l’Opéra National de Paris, Teatro alla Scala and the Wiener Staatsoper.
Leading the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus in one of Puccini’s most glorious scores is Emmanuel Villaume who will be returning to the Met in December to lead performances of Cinderella, the latest in the series of abridged opera adaptations for family audiences presented by the Met.
Tosca will be screened at select cinemas across the United States from August 4th (search for your nearest cinema via this link) and in the United Kingdom as of August 11th (search for your nearest cinema via this link).
All photographs © Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Information sourced from:
Metropolitan Opera program notes
Royal Opera House program notes