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Florentine Opera Presents ‘Tosca’: Puccini’s Superb Shocker

Classical Preview

Nov. 18, 2009
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Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) first came across Victorien Sardou’s play La Tosca while it swept Europe’s theaters in the late 1880s, featuring Sarah Bernhardt in the title role. He immediately thought it most apropos for opera. With a larger-than-life villain, distressed heroine and doomed romantic hero, indeed he was right, but it would take years before he set about this task. Finally, with the significant triumphs of Manon Lescaut and La Bohme under his belt, he took on Tosca.

Premiered in Rome in 1900, Tosca was an instant hit with the opera-going public, but the press was largely scandalized by its raw emotionalism (the most infamous jab, penned by musicologist Joseph Kerman, called Tosca a “shabby little shocker”). That it assuredly is not. People have flocked to Tosca for more than a century now, thanks to its emotive power and glorious arias (“Vissi d’arte,” “Recondita armonia,” “E lucevan le stele”)—a deserved devotion showing no sign of slack.

The Florentine Opera presents Puccini’s Tosca as the first production of its season. Performances take place at Uihlein Hall on Nov. 20-22.


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