Sunday Morning Opera: Tosca, I Need Tosca


Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 1.41.51 PMTosca 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.


5 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Opera: Tosca, I Need Tosca

  1. Always keeping dear Dima in my prayers! God bless him and his lovely family.
    Can you imagine what a glorious Scarpia Dima would make? His di Luna is breath-taking- a powerhouse charge of passion, fury and authority.

    Also, have you seen the Zurich 2011 version with Kauffman, Magee and Hampson? I must say, compared to Milnes’s awesome Scarpia, Hampson’s colder, rigid Scarpia falls a bit short of Milnes’s vocal and drama power and allure.

    By the way, please pardon this irrelevant deviation from the subject, but I wanted your thoughts on a certain issue I’ve noticed with the Met’s Live in HD Transmissions series.

    Recently, I browsed through the Met’s Live in HD series- why are they are repeating already recorded operas again?
    To be sure, these newer installments have different casts, but why record the same opera with a different cast?
    And I don’t wish to stir any controversy here, but I am saddened some wonderful productions were replaced with newer, “experimental” productions- such as replacing Robert Carsen’s exquisite production of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” with Deborah Warner’s “gloomy” production? (Kwiecen, I imagine, is a great artist, but his Onegin comes nowhere Hvorostovsky’s classic signature role! Fleming will always be my ideal Tatiana…)

    So far, the transmissions repeated the same operas- Il Barbiere di Siviglia (’06/’07 season First version, ’14/’15 season, second version) Les Contes d’ Hoffman,(’09/’10 season first version, ’14/’15 season, second version) Lucia di Lammermoor… the list goes on, and I fear this post has rambled long enough.

    The only consolation for these repetitive recordings of same operas with different is that at least the 2015 “Il Trovatore” will be featuring the dashing Yonghoo Lee as Manrico. <3 The 2011 version with Marcelo Alvarez struck me as somewhat stilted. I am ecstatic Dmitri Hvorostovsky​ will reprising his powerfully elegant di Luna! :D
    Still, given his health issues, should he be taking on this taxing role again? I hope the dear man rests enough. He certainly needs a respite from his health issues and demanding schedule.

  2. They say Scarpia is what helped to cut Milnes’ career short. I think it was MacBeth. There is a certain broadcast they sometimes do on Sirius XM where you can hear something happen to his voice. Right after that, the problems began.

    Reports today is that DH is doing better.

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