Opera Explained – Tosca
- Thomson Smillie
Tosca is Puccini at the peak of his theatrical power. The story of the jealous, impassioned opera singer Floria Tosca and her doomed love for the painter Mario Cavaradossi is played out against backgrounds both historically and geographically overwhelming. It is set in three great and historical locations of Rome during the Napoleonic era. Spectacle, sensuality and cruelty battle for our attention in one of the most truly ‘action-packed’ works of theatre. Enticing us with just a couple of the ‘great tunes’ from this deeply affecting opera, David Timson then begins setting the biographical and operatic scene. The enduring popularity of Tosca is quickly understood – its appeal generated largely from exactly the same elements which once caused academics to brand it a ‘shabby little shocker’. The master of melody is at his finest, as David Timson illustrates with characteristic enthusiasm.