Tosca is my very favorite opera. I’m a junkie. Let’s be honest here, the greatest Scarpia ever is Sherrill Milnes, then again he’s also now finally considered one of the greatest Giovanni’s ever. Years ago, he did a recording of Tosca with Placido Domingo and Leontyne Price. I love her Tosca. I think she may be the best Tosca.
I don’t like today’s productions of Tosca. It is a no brainer. It is based on historical fact, basically an eighteen hour period on June 17 & 18, 1800. Because we know the date and the location, costumes should be quite simple.
“…In May 1800 Napoleon, by then the undisputed leader of France, brought his troops across the Alps to Italy once again. On 14 June his army met the Austrian forces at the Battle of Marengo (near Alessandria). Austrian troops were initially successful; by mid-morning they were in control of the field of battle. Their commander, Michael von Melas, sent this news south towards Rome. However, fresh French troops arrived in late afternoon, and Napoleon attacked the tired Austrians. As Melas retreated in disarray with the remains of his army, he sent a second courier south with the revised message. The Neapolitans abandoned Rome, and the city spent the next fourteen years under French domination…”
This 1976 film version is considered one of the best versions, ever. If you want to have some fun, watch the Met’s recent version of Il Trovatore right after Tosca. I love the way the new version places the story during the war in Portugal during the same time frame. Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s de Luna is the perfect sequel, especially the meltdown, and costuming to reflect the meltdown. And – please keep him in your prayers. There are some positive rumors, but they are just that – rumors.