Tosca · Giacomo Puccini

Puccini · 1908

Tosca (Italian pronunciation: [ˈtoska] or [ˈtɔska]) 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 onVictorien 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, murder 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 repeatedly argued with his librettists and publisher. Tosca premiered at a time of unrest in Rome, and 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, choruses and other elements musically woven into a seamless whole. Puccini used Wagnerian leitmotifs (short musical statements) to identify characters, objects and ideas. While critics have frequently dismissed the opera as a facile melodrama with confusions of plot—musicologist Joseph Kerman famously called it a “shabby little shocker”[1][2]—the power of its score and the inventiveness of its orchestration have been widely acknowledged. The dramatic force of Tosca and its characters continues to fascinate both performers and audiences, and the work remains one of the most frequently performed operas. Many recordings of the work have been issued, both of studio and live performances.

The opera begins without any prelude; the opening chords of the Scarpia motif lead immediately to the agitated appearance of Angelotti and the enunciation of the “fugitive” motif. The sacristan’s entry, accompanied by his sprightly buffo theme, lifts the mood, as does the generally light-hearted colloquy with Cavaradossi which follows after the latter’s entrance. This leads to the first of the “Grand Tunes”, Cavaradossi’s “Recondita armonia” with its sustained high B flat, accompanied by the sacristan’s grumbling counter-melody.[72] The domination, in that aria, of themes which will be repeated in the love duet make it clear that though the painting may incorporate the Marchesa’s features, Tosca is the ultimate inspiration of his work.[75]

The third act’s tranquil beginning provides a brief respite from the drama. An introductory 16-bar theme for the horns will later be sung by Cavaradossi and Tosca in their final duet. The orchestral prelude which follows portrays the Roman dawn; the pastoral aura is accentuated by the shepherd boy’s song, and the sounds of sheep bells and church bells, the authenticity of the latter validated by Puccini’s early morning visits to Rome.[78][86] Themes reminiscent of Scarpia, Tosca and Cavaradossi emerge in the music, which changes tone as the drama resumes with Cavaradossi’s entrance, to an orchestral statement of what becomes the melody of his aria “E lucevan le stelle“.[86]

High C!

Hello and welcome back!

Sabrina Cirera (Tosca) · Mariano Spagnolo (Cavaradossi)

Sabrina Cirera (Tosca) · Mariano Spagnolo (Cavaradossi)

On this occasion, I invite you to hear two love duets ending with the most famous tenor note: the high C! I beggin with the final of Rigoletto’s “love”-Duet between the Duke of Mantua and Gilda  (Rigoletto·G. Verdi). Technically correct, these duet ends with a high C sharp.

We continue with Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton famous love duet (Madama Butterfly·G.Puccini):

Enjoy!

Die schöne Müllerin

franz-schubertDie schöne Müllerin (Op. 25, D. 795), is a song cycle by Franz Schubert based on poems by Wilhelm Müller. It is the earliest extended song cycle to be widely performed. The work is considered one of Schubert’s most important cycles, and one of the pinnacles of Lied, and it is widely performed and recorded.

Die schöne Müllerin is performed by a pianist and a solo singer. The vocal part falls in the range of a tenor or soprano voice, but is often sung by other voices, transposed to a lower range. Since the story of the cycle is about a young man, the work is most often sung by men. The piano part bears much of the expressive burden of the work, and is only seldom a mere “accompaniment” to the singer.

Dichterliebe

Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann

Dichterliebe, ‘A Poet’s Love’ (composed 1840), is the best-known song cycle of Robert Schumann (Op. 48). The texts for the 16 songs come from the Lyrisches Intermezzo of Heinrich Heine, composed 1822–1823, published as part of the poet’s Das Buch der Lieder. Following the song-cycles of Franz Schubert (Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise), those of Schumann constitute part of the central core of the genre in musical literature.

Francesco Paolo Tosti

Francesco Paolo Tosti
Son of a merchant from Ortona, F. P. Tosti received the first music lessons in her hometown. At age eleven, he enrolled at the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella in Naples. His professor of composition, Saverio Mercadante, impressed by his talent, got to give him a professorship assistant while studying, which Tosti scored a meager monthly salary. >