MET Opera: Puccini's Tosca (delayed in HD)

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Sir David McVicar's "smashing new production" is "a grand triumph" (Huffington Post), featuring an exciting cast led by soprano Sonya Yoncheva in the title role of the fiery diva and Vittorio Grigolo as her passionate lover, Cavaradossi. The pair are "youthful, ardent, and innocent … their duets electric, their kisses hot and numerous" (Wall Street Journal). Yoncheva's sound is "richly textured and shimmering," and "Grigolo's Mario is a true hothead … complete with thrilling top notes" (New York Times). Željko Lučić is "an imposing figure with a voice to match" (Wall Street Journal) as the villainous police chief, Scarpia, and Emmanuel Villaume conducts.

Puccini’s thrilling Tosca is a story of love, terror, the abuse of power, and the unquenchable longing for freedom. When an escaped political prisoner takes refuge in a church, an opera singer and a painter are drawn into a twisting plot that puts them at the mercy of the secret police and its network of torturers and spies. Rivalling the splendour of Franco Zeffirelli’s Napoleonic-era sets and costumes, Sir David McVicar’s ravishing new production offers a splendid backdrop for extraordinary singing. Sonya Yoncheva stars as the titular prima donna, alongside Vittorio Grigolo as her artist lover and Željko Lučić as the villainous police chief—one of his signature roles. Emmanuel Villaume conducts.

Premiere: Teatro Costanzi, Rome, 1900. Puccini’s melodrama about a volatile diva, a sadistic police chief, and an idealistic artist has offended and thrilled audiences for more than a century. Critics, for their part, have often had problems with Tosca’s rather grungy subject matter, the directness and intensity of its score, and the crowd-pleasing dramatic opportunities it provides for its lead roles. But these same aspects have made Tosca one of a handful of iconic works that seem to represent opera in the public imagination. Tosca’s popularity is further secured by a superb and exhilarating dramatic sweep, a driving score of abundant melody and theatrical shrewdness, and a career-defining title role.

Setting No opera is more tied to its setting than Tosca, which takes place in Rome on the morning of June 17, 1800, through dawn the following day. The specified settings for each of the three acts—the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, Palazzo Farnese, and Castel Sant’Angelo—are familiar monuments in the city and can still be visited today. While the libretto takes some liberties with the facts, historical issues form a basis for the opera: the people of Rome are awaiting news of the Battle of Marengo in northern Italy, which will decide the fate of their symbolically powerful city.

Music The score of Tosca (if not the drama) itself is considered a prime example of the style of verismo, an elusive term usually translated as “realism.” The typical musical features of the verismo tradition are prominent in Tosca: short arias with an uninhibited flood of raw melody, ambient sounds that blur the distinctions between life and art, and the use of parlato—words spoken instead of sung—at moments of tension.

Enjoy a pre-show supper for £8.50. Please book 48 hours in advance. Pork & Potato Hotpot Braised Lamb with Pearl Barley Vegetable Cobbler

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