29 Facts About Tosca


Tosca is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa.

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The work, based on Victorien Sardou's 1887 French-language dramatic play, La Tosca, is a melodramatic piece set in Rome in June 1800, with the Kingdom of Naples's control of Rome threatened by Napoleon's invasion of Italy.

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Tosca premiered at a time of unrest in Rome, and its first performance was delayed for a day for fear of disturbances.

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Musically, Tosca is structured as a through-composed work, with arias, recitative, choruses and other elements musically woven into a seamless whole.

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Tosca complained about the reception La Tosca had received in Italy, particularly in Milan, and warned that other composers were interested in the piece.

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Tosca withdrew from the agreement, which Ricordi then assigned to the composer Alberto Franchetti.

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When Puccini became interested in Tosca, Ricordi was able to get Franchetti to surrender the rights so he could recommission Puccini.

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Tosca enters and suspiciously asks Cavaradossi what he has been doing – she thinks that he has been talking to another woman.

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Tosca reassures Tosca of his fidelity and asks her what eyes could be more beautiful than her own: "Qual'occhio al mondo" .

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Tosca falls for his deceit; enraged, she rushes off to confront Cavaradossi.

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Scarpia, at supper, sends a note to Tosca asking her to come to his apartment, anticipating that two of his goals will soon be fulfilled at once.

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Tosca's enters the apartment in time to see Cavaradossi being escorted to an antechamber.

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Tosca's resists, but the sound of screams coming through the door eventually breaks her down, and she tells Scarpia to search the well in the garden of Cavaradossi's villa.

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Tosca is devastated to discover that Tosca has betrayed his friend.

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Scarpia, now alone with Tosca, proposes a bargain: if she gives herself to him, Cavaradossi will be freed.

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Tosca's is revolted, and repeatedly rejects his advances, but she hears the drums outside announcing an execution.

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Tosca's tries to offer money, but Scarpia is not interested in that kind of bribe: he wants Tosca herself.

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Tosca tells Spoletta to arrange a mock execution, both men repeating that it will be "as we did with Count Palmieri", and Spoletta exits.

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Tosca insists that Scarpia must provide safe-conduct out of Rome for herself and Cavaradossi.

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Tosca begins to write, but is soon overwhelmed by memories: "E lucevan le stelle" .

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Tosca enters and shows him the safe-conduct pass she has obtained, adding that she has killed Scarpia and that the imminent execution is a sham.

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Sardou's five-act play La Tosca contains a large amount of dialogue and exposition.

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The opening page of the autograph Tosca score, containing the motif that would be associated with Scarpia, is dated January 1898.

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Tosca adapted the music to the exact pitch of the great bell of St Peter's Basilica, and was equally diligent when writing the music that opens act 3, in which Rome awakens to the sounds of church bells.

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Tosca journeyed to Rome and went to the Castel Sant'Angelo to measure the sound of matins bells there, as they would be heard from its ramparts.

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Nevertheless, any public doubts about Tosca soon vanished; the premiere was followed by twenty performances, all given to packed houses.

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Puccini wrote that Tosca was "[a] complete triumph", and Ricordi's London representative quickly signed a contract to take Tosca to New York.

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Tosca joins with the chorus in the final statement "Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur", before the act ends with a thunderous restatement of the Scarpia motif.

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Tosca is scored for three flutes ; two oboes; one English horn; two clarinets in B-flat; one bass clarinet in B-flat; two bassoons; one contrabassoon; four French horns in F; three trumpets in F; three tenor trombones; one bass trombone; a percussion section with timpani, cymbals, cannon, one triangle, one bass drum, one glockenspiel, and six church bells; one celesta, one pipe organ; one harp; and strings.

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