Tosca is a war drama that draws you in from the first notes and holds you fast, as a gripping story of love, lust and betrayal that unfolds at breakneck pace.
John Bell's intense production relocates the opera to Nazi-occupied Rome, seeking to recapture the shock Puccini's original audience might have felt seeing a war they remembered, depicted on stage.
Bell doesn't want you to watch a tragedy of fiction.
"This is a true story: it has happened many, many times over throughout history, it happened during the world wars, it's happening now, somewhere in the world," he explains.
"A tyrannical regime, resistance fighters hunted down, women forced to give sexual favours in order to protect a loved one — these things are still happening, and always have been, during war."
It's a reality we all recognise, that we see on the news: the everyday banality of evil.
The sets are truly awe-inspiring, from the perfect recreation of a Roman basilica, to the cold impassive power of Scarpia's fascist headquarters.
In Tosca, some of the most powerful music in opera must be sung by three powerhouse performers, and here, glorious voices led by Spanish soprano Ainhoa Arteta, and conducted by Christian Badea, will make you fall under Tosca's spell.
At last they are alone. The man hunt, the interrogation, the prayers, all forgotten as he leers at his conquest.
Just sign the note of safe passage and she’s his! Where’s that pen? His upper lip sweats as he readies himself for Tosca’s kiss.
He doesn’t see the knife glinting behind her back.
Watch the Tosca trailer
Listen to 'Vissi d'arte' from Tosca
Tosca: A Listening Guide
(until 14 Mar)
|Revival Director||Roger Press|
|Set Designer||Michael Scott-Mitchell|
|Costume Designer||Teresa Negroponte|
|Lighting Designer||Nick Schlieper|
|Fight Choreographer||Nigel Poulton|
(until 14 Mar)
(until 7 Mar)
|Scarpia||Lucio Gallo (until
|Sciarrone||Adrian Tamburini (until
Children's Chorus: Gondwana Choirs
Running time: approximately 3 hours, including two intervals.
Sung in Italian, with English surtitles.
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.
Angelotti, who has just escaped from prison, finds a key left for him in a church by his sister, the Marchesa Attavanti, and hides in the Attavanti chapel. The sacristan enters, grumbling about having to clean the painter Cavaradossi's brushes. Cavaradossi returns to his work and, when Angelotti emerges from hiding, promises to help him but tells him to hide again when they hear Tosca approaching. Although she begins to suspect that he is having an affair with the Marchesa, Cavaradossi reassures her of his love before she leaves.
Angelotti tells Cavaradossi that his sister has left him some female clothing and that he intends to escape in disguise. Cavaradossi mentions a hiding-place down the well in his garden in case of emergency. They hear a shot, indicating that the escape has been discovered, and Cavaradossi rushes Angelotti to his safe house.
The sacristan announces a grand Te Deum to celebrate a report of a victory for the current regime. Excitement at this news is cut short by the arrival of Scarpia, on Angelotti's track. A search of the church reveals a fan with the crest of the Attavanti and, when Tosca returns, looking for Cavaradossi, Scarpia uses it to inflame her jealousy, as a way of winning Tosca for himself.
Scarpia waits for Tosca, who is singing at an official reception to celebrate the victory. Spoletta informs him that Angelotti has still not been found but that Cavaradossi has been arrested. Under interrogation he denies any knowledge of Angelotti. Tosca arrives as Cavaradossi is led off to torture. At first she refuses to tell Scarpia anything, but finally she can bear Cavaradossi’s suffering no longer and reveals Angelotti’s hiding-place. When Cavaradossi is brought in and hears Scarpia ordering the arrest of Angelotti it is obvious that Tosca has betrayed him. At this moment the news of a serious defeat for the current regime arrives. Cavaradossi is triumphant and Scarpia orders his execution.
Tosca begs for the life of her lover and Scarpia names his price: she must have sex with him in exchange for Cavaradossi’s freedom. Seeing no alternative, she agrees, and Scarpia orders Spoletta to perform a mock execution of Cavaradossi, after which he and Tosca will be able to escape. As he claims his reward, however, Tosca kills him.
Cavaradossi awaits execution. He remembers the happiness Tosca had brought him. Tosca then tells him what has happened and prepares him for the mock execution. She realises too late that she has been deceived by Scarpia: the execution was real. Tosca pays for Scarpia’s murder with her own life.