Torture, Extortion and Violence

by C. I. Roman. 0 Comments

This is not a headline from todays newspapers but rather about Tosca an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini. Based on Victorien Sardous French language dramatic play, La Tosca, a melodramatic work set in Rome in June 1800 when Napoleon threatened invasion.

Giacomo Puccinis Tosca is a good example of its lurid reputation which includes overt passion, graphic violence, gruesome torture, sexual extortion, attempted rape, suicide and bloody murder.

So what is Toscas redeeming value? The music -- passionate and openly beautiful, it is structured with arias, choruses and other elements that are woven seamlessly as only Puccini can. The power of its score and the inventiveness of its orchestration, featuring the renowned tenor anthem E lucevan le stelle, plus one of the most famed soprano arias, Vissi darte that have been widely acknowledged and continue to fascinate audiences around the world. There is nothing like Puccini to bring us mountains of soul and leave you with a guilty grin as it masterfully pokes at the darker side of our desires.

Giacomo Puccini is famous for the grace and strength of his glorious heroines, and in Floria Tosca (Patricia Racette) he has created a diva with flashing eyes and a jealous heart who loves only one man, Mario Cavaradossi (Frank Porretta). When he is taken as a political prisoner, his captor Baron Scarpia, Romes feared Chief of Police (Alan Held), meets his match with the faithful Tosca. Needless to say this doesnt stop Scarpia from the thought of ravishing her and murdering her lover all while he is at mass.

The opening production of The Washington National Opera dazzles with the vocal charisma and shimmering power of the performance by American soprano Patricia Racette in the title role. Among opera characters Tosca is an enigma, part diva, playful and light in act one, scornful in act two, and liberated in act three. Racette turns Vissi darte with high Cs and attitude in true diva fashion-applause seeking.

Maestro Domingo was in the orchestra pit to conduct and lead the transition as he leaves the position of general director of the Kennedy Center.

The enraptured audience broke into applause at every opportunity, adding to the excitement of the evening. But dont take my word for it, see for yourself.

Carmen Ileana Romn writes a regular column for

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