Wed | Sep 27, 2023

Tosca opens summer encore season

Published:Thursday | June 23, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Patricia Racette as the title character, Tosca, and George Gagnidze as Scarpia in a scene from act one of Puccini's 'Tosca'.

Tosca, Puccini's deeply moving melodrama about a volatile diva, a sadistic police chief and an idealistic artist, opens the Met summer encores. It screens at Palace Cineplex only, this Sunday, at 11:30 a.m.

Other operas in the line-up are L'elisir d'amore (July 10), La BohËme (July 24) and CosÏ Fan Tutte (August 21), playing at Palace Cineplex only.

Although Tosca is essentially historical fiction, knowledge of the period is advantageous. The drama unfolds in Rome from the morning of June 17, 1800, through dawn the following day. The specified settings for each of the three acts the Church of Sant'Andrea della Valle, Palazzo

Farnese and Castel Sant'Angelo are familiar monuments in the city and can still be visited today.

While creative liberty is taken with the facts, historical issues form the opera's basis. The people of Rome are awaiting news of the Battle of Marengo in Northern Italy, which will decide the fate of their symbolically powerful city.

Tosca premiered in 1900 at the Teatro Costanzi (now the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma) in Rome and has thrilled and offended audiences for more than a century.

The grungy subject matter, directness and intensity of its score and crowd-pleasing dramatic moments it provides for its lead roles are some of reasons why Tosca is one of a handful of iconic works that seem to represent opera in the public imagination.

It is also popular because of its dramatic sweep, driving score, abundant melody, theatrical shrewdness and a career-defining title role.

Giacomo Puccini's popularity has survived his lifetime (1858-1924) and his mature works are still celebrated today. Among them are his most enduringly successful operas, La Boheme and Madama Butterfly.


Plot unfolds


Rome, June 1800. Cesare Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner, rushes into a church to hide. Once he has disappeared, the painter Mario Cavaradossi enters to resume work on his portrait of Mary Magdalene, commissioned by the Church.

He compares the dark-haired beauty of his lover, the singer Floria Tosca, to that of the blonde Marchesa Attavanti, whom he has seen in the church and who has inspired the painting.

Angelotti, a member of the former Bonapartiste government, ventures out and is recognised by his friend, Cavaradossi. The painter hurries him back into hiding as Tosca is heard from outside. She jealously questions Cavaradossi, then reminds him of their rendezvous that evening.

Recognising the Marchesa in the painting, Tosca accuses Cavaradossi of being unfaithful, but he assures her of his love. After Tosca leaves Angelotti emerges and he and Cavaradossi flee to the painter's villa.

The sacristan enters with choirboys who are to sing in a Te Deum that day, celebrating a victory against Napoleon. Their excitement is silenced by the arrival of Scarpia, chief of the secret police, who is searching for Angelotti. When Tosca comes back Scarpia shows her a fan with the Attavanti crest he has found. Seemingly finding her suspicions confirmed, Tosca vows vengeance and leaves.

Scarpia sends his men to follow her. While the gathered congregation sings the Te Deum, he swears he will bend Tosca to his will.

The cast includes Roberto Alagna as Cavaradossi, Patricia Racette as Tosca and George Gagnidze as Scarpia. Renee Fleming hosts and Riccardo Frizza conducts.

Tickets are on sale for the Met summer encores 2016 at the Palace Cineplex box office and via the web at with a Palace card or any major credit card.