Tosca is a well-known opera by renowned Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. The libretto for the three-act opera was provided by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, two prominent artists in their own right. Since its debut at the very start of the 20th century, Tosca has gone on to become one of the most important operatic works of all times. It is widely considered a masterpiece and has been produced several times over the past century, with some of the world’s best opera singers. Now, there is another production of the historical show set to tour all over the United States, much to the delight of opera enthusiasts. These fans are sure to be lining up for Tosca tickets for a chance to see the masterwork in person.
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The opera is an adaptation of a play, titled La Tosca, by French dramatist Victorien Sardou. As such, the events of the opera closely reflect those of the play and are set in Rome during the year 1800. They take place during the French Revolutionary Wars. After the victory of Napoleon’s troops against the Austrians during the Battle of Marengo, the King of Naples finds his rule of Rome threatened. What follows is a melodramatic story - set against the backdrop of the looming danger of Napoleon’s conquest of Italy - that unfolds over the course of eighteen hours. The plot concerns a prominent singer named Floria Tosca, Rome's cruel Regent of Police Baron Scarpia and Tosca’s lover, the artist Mario Cavaradossi.
Giacomo Puccini saw Victorien Sardou’s twice while it was touring in Italy during the late 1880s. Puccini took an instant liking to the play and was captivated by its brilliant story, characters and themes. He immediately set out to gain the rights for an operatic adaption. At the time, La Tosca was the most successful play Sardou had ever written, which made him reluctant to give away the rights that Puccini sought. This was because Puccini was not very well known. Nevertheless, Sardou eventually relented and Puccini set out to turn the French play into an opera.
Work on the ambitious project, however, was not without its problems. Puccini was initially only aided by the librettist Luigi Illica, who was convinced that the dialogue-heavy play could not be translated very well into a musical production. And after Puccini discovered that Sardou did not like his music very much, he left the project. Thereon, Illica resumed his work on the opera with Italian composer Alberto Franchetti, who also relinquished himself from the post after a while. It is believed that Franchetti did so because he felt that the play was too violent and did not have any meaningful artistic merit. By now, Puccini had again become interested in the venture and took up the opera once more.
It would be four long years before Tosca would become a fully realized opera. During that time, Puccini and Illica struggled to transform the play into a succinct piece that could stand on its own instead of being merely derivative. It was also during this period that playwright and librettist Giuseppe Giacosa was brought on to help refine the scenario of the opera. Despite the many hardships faced by the production, Tosca finally entered rehearsal in December 1899. The premier was set to take place in Rome and date was set in January 1900. However, it was delayed by a day due to the social and political unrest prevalent in the city at the time.
The finished opera’s debut was met with an indifferent and generally lukewarm reception from critics. The latter criticized the play for its weak plot, which left out much of the exposition in La Tosca as well as many of the source material’s characters. However, Tosca was unanimously praised for Puccini’s music, which was heralded as near-revolutionary at the time. The composition incorporated many disparate musical elements – such as arias and choruses as well as leitmotifs for each character – impeccably into one seamless whole. Furthermore, the opera was met with widespread commercial success and played to sold-out audiences all over Italy. The premier was even attended by my luminaries of the time, including Italy’s Queen Margherita as well as Luigi Pelloux, the Italian Prime Minister of the time.
Tosca has now become a classic and is considered Puccini’s magnum opus. It has been performed countless times over the past hundred years and continues to be popular even today, captivating the hearts of audiences everywhere. The upcoming production shall be no exception and Tosca tickets are sure to sell like hot cakes.
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