Replete with love, deceit, honor, sumptuous music, and unforgettable arias, Giacomo Puccini’s opera Tosca established itself as one of the world’s most popular operas within a few years of its first performance in Rome in 1900. And while all of the best-loved operas find favor principally due to the excellence of their music, in this case Puccini also gave posterity one of the last great examples of the lush, sentimental style of Italian operatic music that dominated the 19th century. The appeal of the work is enhanced by a spellbinding story line that is both plausible and easy to follow, with characterizations that have a surprisingly contemporary resonance. Tosca herself embodies a full range of contradictory personality traits—worldly and naïve, religious and adulterous, brave and cowardly, resolute and vacillating—that modern audiences are likely to find familiar in their circle of acquaintances, or even in themselves. Those mindful of the turbulence of world affairs since the opera first was staged will appreciate the story line’s strong condemnation of the consequences of political tyranny and its clear admiration for individuals who have the courage to stand against it. Sadly, the fiery Tosca and her lover, the idealistic painter Cavaradossi, are helpless to overcome the powers of those determined to destroy their lives.
Tickets to the Minnesota Opera’s production of Tosca are not included in tuition. However, course participants will be sent information about how to receive a 20-percent discount on tickets to the performance of their choice.
Daniel Freeman, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has taught courses in music history at the University of Minnesota, the Smithsonian Institution, and other universities throughout the world. Considered the world’s leading historian in the field of 18th-century Czech music, Freeman is both a musicologist and pianist. His research has included studies on 18th-century keyboard music, baroque opera, the musical culture of 18th-century Bohemia, and the music of composers Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi. His most recent book is Mozart in Prague (Bearclaw Publishers, 2013).
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