Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Tosca, perhaps Puccini’s most dramatic opera, features Maria Natale in her Cedar Rapids Opera debut alongside two voices fresh from the Metropolitan Opera – Chaz’men Williams-Ali as Cavaradossi, and Norman Garrett as Scarpia. Gregory Keller will stage direct and Daniel Kleinknecht will conduct.
Cedar Rapids Opera is proud to partner with Orchestra Iowa for this production
Friday, January 19 at 7:30PM
Sunday, January 21 at 2PM
*Pre-opera talks begin one hour before the curtains of both performances. Dr. Anna Barker presents “Tosca’s Rome, the Opera in Historical Perspective,” in a lively pre-opera talk.
DATE & TIME
123 3rd Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
by Marian Taylor Antin (1926-2023)
Marian was a beloved Cedar Rapids Opera patron, donor, and board member who frequently wrote opera synopses for our productions. This is a slightly edited version of the TOSCA synopsis she wrote for CROpera’s 2010 production at Theatre Cedar Rapids.
Tosca, by Giacomo Puccini, takes place in Rome in 1800. The first act is set in the church of Sant’ Andrea della Valle, where a Te Deum ceremony celebrating Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Marengo is about to take place. As the opera opens we see Cesare Angelotti,an escaped political prisoner, hiding from the Sacristan in his family’s chapel. Mario Cavaradossi, who is working on a painting of Mary Magdalene for the church, enters and starts to work. He sings about his painting which is of a lovely blonde woman, inspired by the Marchesa Attavanti, Angelotti’s sister, saying that it reminds him of his love, the super star Floria Tosca. When the Sacristan leaves, Angelotti comes out of the chapel. Cavaradossi recognizes him and promises to help his friend escape from Rome. When Tosca comes in singing, he hides in the chapel again. She notes that her lover is painting a beautiful woman who is not dark-haired like herself and immediately becomes jealous and suspicious.
A long duet ensues while Cavaradossi tries in vain to assure Tosca that she is his only love. Tosca, enjoying the moment with her lover, prolongs the conversation repeatedly asking for his reassurance. Finally, he persuades her that he must get back to work and she leaves. Angelotti comes out of the chapel and they discuss plans for his escape. But when a cannon is heard announcing that Angelotti’s escape from prison has been discovered, they quickly leave for Cavaradossi’s home. The crowd begins to assemble for the Te Deum when Baron Scarpia, the sadistic chief of the secret police enters with his entourage and orders a search for the prisoner. When Tosca returns, Scarpia, who lusts after Tosca and is suspicious of Cavaradossi, tries to trick her into giving him information about her lover by igniting her jealousy. She leaves to find Cavaradossi. What happens next is a chilling contrast in musical drama as he paces around the narthex of the church, musing on his determination to possess her and plotting on how to accomplish his plans while the procession into the church begins, singing praises to God. He ends by saying “Oh, Tosca, you make me forget God”.
That evening in Scarpia’s chambers in the Farnese Palace Scarpia is again musing on his desire to seduce Tosca and have her in his power. Spoletta, his spy, arrives announcing that they were unable to find Angelotti but have arrested Cavaradossi. Scarpia interrogates him and he denies any knowledge of Angelotti’s whereabouts. Scarpia has sent for Tosca to be brought in following her performance at a gala, and when she enters he sends Cavaradossi off to be tortured. Tosca is left alone with Scarpia to hear Cavaradossi screaming as they torture him in the next room. Scarpia tries to get her to tell him where Angelotti is, and lets her know that information will secure Cavaradossi’s freedom. The pressure and fear is more than she can bear and she finally tells him what he wants to hear. Cavaradossi is brought back into the room just as Napoleon’s victory is announced by the officer, Sciarrone. When Cavaradossi shouts his defiance of tyranny, Scarpia orders him taken to be executed. Now Scarpia offers a choice to Tosca. She can free Cavaradossi if she agrees to submit to Scarpia. Frantically fighting off his advances, she declares that she has given her life to art and love and calls on God for help. Spoletta bursts in, announcing that Angelotti has killed himself. Desperate not to lose her lover, Tosca finally agrees to Scarpia’s proposition on condition that he grant them safe conduct from the city. Scarpia calls in Spoletta and tells him that Cavaradossi will have a mock execution; however, what he is actually ordering in code is the opposite. When he turns away to write out the safe conduct pass, she snatches a knife from the table and kills him. Then, picking up the travel pass she flees.
We hear a shepherd boy singing as dawn breaks. Cavaradossi is awaiting execution at the Castel Sant’Angelo. He bribes the jailer to deliver a letter to Tosca, but his emotions take over and he gives in to despair. Tosca arrives and excitedly tells Cavaradossi that the execution will be faked and that they will leave together with the safe conduct that she has secured. The lovers imagine their future in freedom. She carefully instructs him on how to fake his death, then watches from a distance. The firing squad comes in, blindfold Cavaradossi, take aim, and fire. He falls to the ground. When the soldiers leave, Tosca approaches, praising him on how well he has acted out his death. Then, when he fails to respond, she realizes that her lover is dead and Scarpia has betrayed her. In her grief and despair, as Scarpia’s men rush in to arrest her, she runs to the parapet and leaps off.