Tosca is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900; 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. It contains depictions of torture and suicide, as well as some of Puccini's best-known lyrical arias. Puccini saw Sardou's play when it was touring Italy in 1889 and, after some vacillation, obtained the rights to turn the work into an opera in 1895. Turning the wordy French play into a succinct Italian opera took four years, during which the composer argued with his librettists and publisher. Tosca premiered at a time of unrest in Rome, its first performance was delayed for a day for fear of disturbances. Despite indifferent reviews from the critics, the opera was an immediate success with the public.
Musically, Tosca is structured as a through-composed work, with arias, recitative and other elements musically woven into a seamless whole. Puccini used Wagnerian leitmotifs to identify characters and ideas. While critics have dismissed the opera as a facile melodrama with confusions of plot—musicologist Joseph Kerman called it a "shabby little shocker"—the power of its score and the inventiveness of its orchestration have been acknowledged; the dramatic force of Tosca and its characters continues to fascinate both performers and audiences, the work remains one of the most performed operas. Many recordings of the work have been issued, both of live performances; the French playwright Victorien Sardou wrote more than 70 plays all of them successful, none of them performed today. In the early 1880s Sardou began a collaboration with actress Sarah Bernhardt, whom he provided with a series of historical melodramas, his third Bernhardt play, La Tosca, which premiered in Paris on 24 November 1887, in which she starred throughout Europe, was an outstanding success, with more than 3,000 performances in France alone.
Puccini had seen La Tosca at least twice, in Turin. On 7 May 1889 he wrote to his publisher, Giulio Ricordi, begging him to get Sardou's permission for the work to be made into an opera: "I see in this Tosca the opera I need, with no overblown proportions, no elaborate spectacle, nor will it call for the usual excessive amount of music."Ricordi sent his agent in Paris, Emanuele Muzio, to negotiate with Sardou, who preferred that his play be adapted by a French composer. He complained about the reception La Tosca had received in Italy in Milan, warned that other composers were interested in the piece. Nonetheless, Ricordi reached terms with Sardou and assigned the librettist Luigi Illica to write a scenario for an adaptation. In 1891, Illica advised Puccini against the project, most because he felt the play could not be adapted to a musical form; when Sardou expressed his unease at entrusting his most successful work to a new composer whose music he did not like, Puccini took offence. He withdrew from the agreement, which Ricordi assigned to the composer Alberto Franchetti.
Illica wrote a libretto for Franchetti, never at ease with the assignment. When Puccini once again became interested in Tosca, Ricordi was able to get Franchetti to surrender the rights so he could recommission Puccini. One story relates that Ricordi convinced Franchetti that the work was too violent to be staged. A Franchetti family tradition holds that Franchetti gave the work back as a grand gesture, saying, "He has more talent than I do." American scholar Deborah Burton contends that Franchetti gave it up because he saw little merit in it and could not feel the music in the play. Whatever the reason, Franchetti surrendered the rights in May 1895, in August Puccini signed a contract to resume control of the project. According to the libretto, the action of Tosca occurs in Rome in June 1800. Sardou, in his play, dates it more precisely. Italy had long been divided into a number of small states, with the Pope in Rome ruling the Papal States in Central Italy. Following the French Revolution, a French army under Napoleon invaded Italy in 1796, entering Rome unopposed on 11 February 1798 and establishing a republic there.
Pope Pius VI was taken prisoner, was sent into exile on February 20, 1798. The new republic was ruled by seven consuls. In September 1799 the French, who had protected the republic, withdrew from Rome; as they left, troops of the Kingdom of Naples occupied the city. In May 1800 Napoleon, by 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. Austrian troops were successful, their commander, Michael von Melas, sent this news south towards Rome. However, fresh French troops arrived in late afternoon, 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, the city spent the next fourteen years under French domination. In
Maria Callas, Commendatore OMRI was an American-born Greek soprano. She was one of the most influential opera singers of the 20th century. Many critics praised wide-ranging voice and dramatic interpretations, her repertoire ranged from classical opera seria to the bel canto operas of Donizetti and Rossini and further, to the works of Verdi and Puccini. Her musical and dramatic talents led to her being hailed as La Divina. Born in New York City to Greek immigrant parents, she was raised by an overbearing mother who had wanted a son. Maria received her musical education in Greece at age 13 and established her career in Italy. Forced to deal with the exigencies of 1940s wartime poverty and with near-sightedness that left her nearly blind onstage, she endured struggles and scandal over the course of her career, she turned herself from a heavy woman into a svelte and glamorous one after a mid-career weight loss, which might have contributed to her vocal decline and the premature end of her career. The press exulted in publicizing Callas's temperamental behavior, her supposed rivalry with Renata Tebaldi and her love affair with Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.
Although her dramatic life and personal tragedy have overshadowed Callas the artist in the popular press, her artistic achievements were such that Leonard Bernstein called her "the Bible of opera" and her influence so enduring that, in 2006, Opera News wrote of her: "Nearly thirty years after her death, she's still the definition of the diva as artist—and still one of classical music's best-selling vocalists." The name on Callas's New York birth certificate is Sophie Cecilia Kalos. She was born at Flower Hospital, 1249 5th Avenue, Manhattan, on December 2, 1923, to Greek parents, George Kalogeropoulos and Elmina Evangelia "Litsa", although she was christened Maria Anna Cecilia Sofia Kalogeropoulos. Callas's father had shortened the surname Kalogeropoulos first to "Kalos" and subsequently to "Callas" in order to make it more manageable. George and Litsa were an ill-matched couple from the beginning. Litsa's father, Petros Dimitriadis, was in failing health when Litsa introduced George to her family.
Petros, distrustful of George, had warned his daughter. If you marry this man, I will never be able to help you". Litsa soon realized that her father was right; the situation was aggravated by George's philandering and was improved neither by the birth of a daughter, named Yakinthi, in 1917 nor the birth of a son, named Vassilis, in 1920. Vassilis's death from meningitis in the summer of 1922 dealt another blow to the marriage. In 1923, after realizing that Litsa was pregnant again, George made the unilateral decision to move his family to America, a decision which Yakinthi recalled was greeted with Litsa "shouting hysterically" followed by George "slamming doors"; the family left for New York in July 1923, moving first into an apartment in the ethnic Greek neighborhood of Astoria, Queens. Litsa was convinced. Maria was christened three years at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in 1926; when Maria was 4, George Callas opened his own pharmacy, settling the family in Manhattan on 192nd Street in Washington Heights where Callas grew up.
Around the age of three, Maria's musical talent began to manifest itself, after Litsa discovered that her youngest daughter had a voice, she began pressing "Mary" to sing. Callas recalled, "I was made to sing when I was only five, I hated it." George was unhappy with his wife favoring their elder daughter, as well as the pressure put upon young Mary to sing and perform while Litsa was in turn embittered with George and his absences and infidelity and violently reviled him in front of their children. The marriage continued to deteriorate and, in 1937, Litsa decided to return to Athens with her two daughters. Callas's relationship with her mother continued to erode during the years in Greece, in the prime of her career, it became a matter of great public interest after a 1956 cover story in Time magazine which focused on this relationship and by Litsa's book My Daughter Maria Callas. In public, Callas blamed the strained relationship with Litsa on her unhappy childhood spent singing and working at her mother's insistence, saying, My sister was slim and beautiful and friendly, my mother always preferred her.
I was the ugly duckling and clumsy and unpopular. It is a cruel thing to make a child feel ugly and unwanted... I'll never forgive her for taking my childhood away. During all the years I should have been playing and growing up, I was making money. Everything I did for them was good and everything they did to me was bad. In 1957, she told Chicago radio host Norman Ross Jr. "There must be a law against forcing children to perform at an early age. Children should have a wonderful childhood, they should not be given too much responsibility."Biographer Nicholas Petsalis-Diomidis asserts that Litsa's hateful treatment of George in front of their
Pagliacci is an Italian opera in a prologue and two acts, with music and libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo. It is the only Leoncavallo opera, still performed. Opera companies have staged Pagliacci with Cavalleria rusticana by Mascagni, a double bill known colloquially as'Cav and Pag'. Pagliacci premiered at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan on 21 May 1892, conducted by Arturo Toscanini, with Adelina Stehle as Nedda, Fiorello Giraud as Canio, Victor Maurel as Tonio, Mario Ancona as Silvio. Nellie Melba played Nedda in London in 1893, soon after the Italian premiere, it was given in New York on 15 June 1893, with Agostino Montegriffo as Canio. Around 1890, when Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana premiered, Leoncavallo was a little-known composer. After seeing Mascagni's success, he decided to write an opera in response: one act composed in the verismo style. Leoncavallo wrote that he based the story of Pagliacci on an incident from his childhood: a murder in 1865, the victim of, a Leoncavallo family servant, Gaetano Scavello.
The murderer was Gaetano D'Alessandro. The incident resulted from a series of perceived romantic entanglements involving Scavello, Luigi D'Alessandro, a village girl with whom both men were infatuated. Leoncavallo's father, a judge, was the presiding magistrate over the criminal investigation. Upon learning of the plot of Leoncavallo's libretto in an 1894 French translation, the French author Catulle Mendès thought it resembled his 1887 play La Femme de Tabarin, such as the play-within-the-play and the clown murdering his wife. Mendès sued Leoncavallo for plagiarism; the composer pleaded ignorance of Mendès' play. There were counter-accusations that Mendès' play resembled that of Don Manuel Tamayo y Baus' Un Drama Nuevo. Mendès dropped his lawsuit. However, the scholar Matteo Sansone has suggested that, as Leoncavallo was a notable student of French culture, lived in Paris from 1882 to 1888, he had ample opportunity to be exposed to new French art and musical works; these would have included Mendès' play, another version of La femme de Tabarin by Paul Ferrier, Tabarin, an opera composed by Émile Pessard, based on Ferrier's play.
Sansone has elaborated on the many parallels among the Mendès, Pessard versions of the Tabarin story and Pagliacci, noting that Leoncavallo deliberately minimised any sort of connection between his opera and those earlier French works. Leoncavallo titled his story Il pagliaccio; the baritone Victor Maurel, cast as the first Tonio, requested that Leoncavallo change the title from the singular Il pagliaccio to the plural Pagliacci, to broaden dramatic interest from Canio alone to include Tonio. Pagliacci received mixed critical reviews upon its world premiere, but was successful with the public and has remained so since; the UK premiere of Pagliacci took place at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London on 19 May 1893. The US premiere followed a month at Grand Opera House in New York on 15 June, with American born tenor Agostino Montegriffo as Canio; the Metropolitan Opera first staged the work on 11 December as a double-bill with Orfeo ed Euridice, with Nellie Melba in the role of Nedda.
The Met again staged Pagliacci as a double-bill, this time followed by Cavalleria rusticana on 22 December 1893. The two operas have since been performed as a double-bill, a pairing referred to in the operatic world colloquially as'Cav and Pag'. Pagliacci was produced alone in Washington National Opera's November 1997 production by Franco Zeffirelli; the re-organised New York City Opera presented Pagliacci in 2016 on a double bill with Rachmaninoff's Aleko. Place: Calabria, near Montalto, on the Feast of the Assumption Time: between 1865 and 1870 During the overture, the curtain rises. From behind a second curtain, dressed as his commedia character Taddeo, addresses the audience, he reminds the audience that actors have feelings too, that the show is about real people. At three o'clock in the afternoon, the commedia troupe enters the village to the cheering of the villagers. Canio describes the night's performance: the troubles of Pagliaccio, he says the play will begin at "ventitré ore", an agricultural method of time-keeping that means the play will begin an hour before sunset.
As Nedda steps down from the cart, Tonio offers his hand, but Canio pushes him aside and helps her down himself. The villagers suggest drinking at the tavern. Canio and Beppe accept; the villagers tease Canio. Canio warns everyone that while he may act the foolish husband in the play, in real life he will not tolerate other men making advances to Nedda. Shocked, a villager asks if Canio suspects her, he says no, sweetly kisses her on the forehead. As the church bells ring vespers, he and Beppe leave for the tavern. Nedda is frightened by Canio's vehemence. Tonio returns and confesses his love for her. Enraged, Tonio grabs Nedda. Silvio, Nedda's lover, comes from the tavern, where he has left Canio and Beppe drinking, he asks Nedda to elope with him after the performance and, though she is afraid, she agrees. Tonio, eavesdropping, leaves to inform Canio so that he might catch Silvio and Nedda together. Canio and Tonio return and, as Silvio escapes, Nedda calls after him, "I will always be yours!" Canio chases Silvio, but does not catch him and does not see his f
Tito Gobbi was an Italian operatic baritone with an international reputation. He made his operatic debut in Gubbio in 1935 as Count Rodolfo in Bellini's La sonnambula and appeared in Italy's major opera houses. By the time he retired in 1979 he had acquired a repertoire of 100 operatic roles, they ranged from Mozart's mid-range baritone roles through Rossini's Barber through Donizetti and the standard Verdi and Puccini baritone roles to Alban Berg's Wozzeck. He had a worldwide career as operatic baritone, appearing in for over 25 films and, from the mid-1960s onward, was the stage director for about ten different operas which were given close to 35 productions throughout Europe and North America, including a significant number in Chicago for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Gobbi and Tilda had a daughter, who now runs the "Associazione Musicale Tito Gobbi", an organization devoted to preserving and celebrating the record of her father's contribution to opera, he was the brother-in-law of one of his famous colleagues at Covent Garden, the Bulgarian-born bass, Boris Christoff.
Gobbi retired in 1979 and died in Rome in 1984, aged 70. Tito Gobbi was born in Bassano del Grappa, he began his studies in law at the University of Padua and, during that time, his talent was discovered by a family friend, Baron Agostino Zanchetta, who suggested that he study singing. To do so, Gobbi moved to Rome in 1932 to study under Giulio Crimi, a well-known Italian tenor of a previous generation, who had sung in the first performances of Puccini's Il trittico as well as in Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini. Accompanying Gobbi on the piano at his first audition was Tilde De Rensis, daughter of musicologist Raphael De Rensis. In 1937, she became his wife. After his 1935 debut in Gubbio singing the role of Count Rodolfo in Vincenzo Bellini's La sonnambula, in 1937 he sang Germont in La traviata for the first time in Rome at Teatro Adriano, but working at La Scala in Milan for the 1935–1936 season as an understudy, gave him a breadth of experience and his first appearance there on stage was as the Herald in Ildebrando Pizzetti's Orsèolo.
In 1942, he debuted at the house in the role of Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore conducted by Tullio Serafin. It was under Serafin's guidance and direction that the young Gobbi prepared many roles, including some that would become crucial to his career, he appeared at the Rome Opera from 1938 onward in stage productions such as singing the role of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly under conductor Victor de Sabata. Other significant Italian venues in these pre-war years included La Fenice in Venice where, in 1941 he appeared as Marcello in La bohème and in 1942 as Sharpless. At the Teatro Communale in Florence in 1941 he sang the role of Hidraot in Gluck's Armide, while at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste in 1942 and 1943 there were other performances, including those as the title character in L'Orfeo. In Rome in 1942 he performed his first Falstaff at La Scala under de Sabata and, in direct contrast, was the protagonist in Alban Berg's Wozzeck sung in November; these performances made him famous in the first Italian performances of Berg's opera.
He sang the role again in Italy and in Vienna under Karl Böhm. During these years, Gobbi kept busy working in films, some of which were filmed operas such as Cilea's L'arlesiana with Licia Albanese in 1938. Gobbi's international career blossomed after World War II, with appearances in 1948 at the San Francisco Opera, he performed for the first time at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1950 and sang with the Lyric Opera of Chicago from 1954 until 1974. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1956 as Scarpia in Tosca; the year 1974 saw the last of Gobbi's numerous appearances at Covent Garden, where he had been much admired by the public and critics alike for his sensitive musicianship as well as for his acting talent and interpretive insights. There was, one incident in his relationship with Covent Garden which caused a stir. In 1955 he had been engaged as Iago in a major new production of Verdi's Otello but was delayed in reaching the theatre for rehearsal; the new music director, Rafael Kubelík, determined to impose discipline on singers, sacked him.
The company baritone Otakar Kraus scheduled to sing some performances, took on all of them. However, a few weeks Gobbi and Kubelik met at a party and Kubelik made an unqualified apology; the general feeling was that Kubelik was right in principle as some star singers were reluctant to rehearse, but chose the wrong singer and circumstances, as few were more professional than Gobbi. He was back at Covent Garden as Rigoletto the following summer. Early in his career he appeared in a number of motion pictures between 1937 and 1959, including some filmed operas such as The Barber of Seville as well a contemporary drama in 1946, Avanti a lui tremava tutta Roma which featured Anna Magnani, the story of which "intertwines the actions of the underground movement in Rome in 1944 against the Germans by a group of opera performers who are part of the Italian resistance, with their presentation of Tosca." There was the popular 1949 British drama set in wartime Italy, The Glass Mountain, which made him known to a wide public.
In 1950, he played himself, in the British film' Soho Conspiracy'. By the time of his death, Gobbi had appeared in both singing and speaking parts. Beginning in the 1940s, Gobbi provided the singing voice for Anthony Quinn as Alfio in the film Cavalleria rusticana, as well as the voice of the title character in the 1957 film Rigoletto e la sua tragedia. During t
Franco Corelli was an Italian tenor who had a major international opera career between 1951 and 1976. Associated in particular with the spinto and dramatic tenor roles of the Italian repertory, he was celebrated universally for his powerhouse voice, electrifying top notes, clear timbre, passionate singing and remarkable performances. Dubbed the "prince of tenors", Corelli possessed handsome features and a charismatic stage presence which endeared him to audiences, he had a long and fruitful partnership with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City between 1961 and 1975. He appeared on the stages of most of the major opera houses in Europe and with opera companies throughout North America. Corelli was born Dario Franco Corelli in Ancona into a family many have thought to have little or no musical background. While his parents were not musical, his paternal grandfather Augusto had quit working at 35 to establish a successful career as an operatic tenor, his older brother Aldo subsequently quit school to become an operatic baritone, two of his uncles sang in the Teatro delle Muse chorus in Ancona.
His father was the family lived along the Adriatic Sea. Corelli loved the sea and decided to follow in the footsteps of his father by pursuing a degree in naval engineering at the University of Bologna. While studying there he entered a music competition under the dare of a friend, an amateur singer. While he did not win the competition, he was encouraged by the judges to pursue a singing career and Corelli entered the Pesaro Conservatory of Music to study opera. At the conservatory, Corelli studied under Rita Pavoni, but was unhappy with the results, saying these lessons destroyed his upper register. After this Corelli decided to become his own teacher, referred to voice teachers as "dangerous people" and a "plague to singers". Corelli stated that he learned part of his technique from a friend, a student of Arturo Melocchi, the voice teacher who taught Mario Del Monaco, who advocated a technique based on singing with the larynx lowered. Corelli studied with Melocchi himself only "sometimes."
Corelli modified the technique to avoid limitations that Corelli perceived in the ability of students of Melocchi to handle mezza-voce and legato singing. He studied the career of Del Monaco, who preceded Corelli into the first rank of Italian tenors using the lowered-larynx technique, and, sometimes criticized for lacking subtlety in his singing. Corelli stated: "I modified the method so that my larynx'floats'—I do not keep it lowered to the maximum at all times." Corelli learned by imitating the style and vocal effects of the recordings of great tenors like Enrico Caruso, Giacomo Lauri-Volpi, Aureliano Pertile, Beniamino Gigli. Opera News stated that Corelli's lowered-larynx technique "resulted in cavernous sound in high-flying passages, where it gained brilliance. Regulating the breath pressure, the tenor was able to reduce this sound while retaining the core of the voice in a diminuendo, or a morendo on a high B-flat, the effect requested by Verdi at the end of'Celeste Aida'." In the summer of 1951, Corelli won the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence, earning a debut at Spoleto the following fall.
He was scheduled to sing Radames in Verdi's Aïda and spent three months preparing the role with conductor Giuseppe Bertelli. However, Corelli switched to Don José in Bizet's Carmen, feeling that at this point he lacked the technical finesse and legato for the role of Radamès. In May 1952, he made his debut at the Rome Opera as Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur opposite Maria Caniglia as Adriana; the same year he appeared in operas with smaller opera houses throughout Italy and on the Italian radio. In 1953 he joined the Rome Opera's roster of principal tenors where he spent much of his time performing through 1958, his first role with the company in 1953 was that of Romeo in Zandonai's heard opera Giulietta e Romeo. That season he sang Pollione in Bellini's Norma opposite Maria Callas in the title role, it was the first time the two sang opposite one another and Callas became an admirer of Corelli. The two performed with each other over the next several years in a partnership that lasted to the end of Callas's career.
While singing at the Rome Opera, Corelli made numerous appearances with other opera houses both in Italy and internationally. He made his first appearance at La Scala in Milan in 1954, as Licinio in Spontini's La vestale opposite Callas's Giulia for the opening of the 1954–1955 season, he returned several more times to that house over the next five years, singing opposite Callas in productions of Fedora, Il pirata and Poliuto. He notably portrayed the role of Dick Johnson in a celebrated performance of La fanciulla del West at La Scala in 1956, opposite Gigliola Frazzoni and Tito Gobbi, broadcast live on Italian radio. Other important debuts for Corelli soon followed, including his first appearances at: the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence and the Arena di Verona Festival in 1955. Among the many triumphs of the decade for Corelli were two celebrated performances at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, a 1958 appearance as Don Alvaro in La forza del destino opposite Renata Tebaldi as Leonora and a 1959 performance of Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur opposite Magda Olivero in the title role.
During his early c