Giacomo Puccini (1858 – 1924)

Information on the piece

Melodramma in 3 acts
Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica
based on the drama LA TOSCA by Victorien Sardou
First performed on 14th January 1900 in Rome
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 13th April 1969

3 hrs 15 mins / 2 intervals

In Italian with German and English surtitles

Pre-performance lecture (in German): 45 minutes prior to each performance

recommended from 13 years
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The Children’s Chorus is sponsored by Dobolino e.V.

About the performance

About the work
As in all operas by Puccini, TOSCA is an illustration of how human attentiveness and pleasures of the palate can be mutually dependent if the composer’s artistic intentions become a benchmark for directorial interpretation. Puccini’s humane attentiveness is essentially dependent on an outcry and/or a sense of resignation. The pity inherent in his music does not content itself with abstract gestures; it wants to unsettle, to bring about change. Out of the “small things” named by Puccini as the source of his inspiration and the focus of his music “big things” grow – as long as we want them. Puccini’s choice of material owes something, directly or indirectly, to the spirit of Zola, Gorki and Hauptmann, and the link between that material and his compositional style places him likewise as a direct descendant of Verdi and an exponent of verismo. He was also known as an admirer of Wagner, although a Wagner imitator he assuredly was not.

It was more a case of a personal connection based on selected achievements of both composers. Grappling with the bundled subtleties of harmony and nuances of instrumentation, he still uncovered a voice from the orchestral cross-hatching and gave it an accompagnato that was considerably more fractured and refined than the radical and laconic Verdi was wonted to do. This is also a reflection of the aesthetic themes of TOSCA. The music exudes brutality, intelligence and exactitude but also tenderness, sentimentality and a dream-like quality. Puccini set great store on musical precision, social awareness, a tactical heroism, the poetics of the seemingly hum-drum, the contrast between aloofness and passionate involvement, and following his true north.

Scarpia, the police chief, Floria Tosca, a singer, and Cavaradossi, a painter, are all bent on achieving their own personal forms of liberty. Scarpia’s is all about asserting his idea of power; Cavaradossi’s is that of the freedom fighter seeking systemic change; Tosca’s is the release that comes with private, straightforward, unbounded love. At a pivotal time of major upheaval these urges assume a heightened significance. Depending on the stance that we see ourselves and Puccini in at that moment in time, TOSCA either remains a grisly love story or ends up as a portent of “freedom”. In any event, each of the three very different protagonists pay for their part in this triangular clinch with their lives. There is nothing redemptive about their deaths, which are grim, violent and definitive.

About the production
In 1987 Götz Friedrich addressed Boleslaw Barlog’s straight production from 1969 with its stark, undemanding sets and delivered a version that took Puccini’s declared intentions literally: the mutual dependence of human attentiveness and pleasures of the palate is inspired by the music and becomes a springboard into the stage interpretation of the work.

Our articles on the subject

Dr Takt on Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca" / Act I, fourth meter before figure 5

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Adventskalender im Foyer: Das 1. Fensterchen

Today in the foyer: "An American Christmas"
Favourite songs from North and South America
with Julie Wyma, Valeria Delmé and Jamison Livsey
5.00 p.m. / Rank foyer on the right
Duration: approx. 25 minutes / free admission

From the frosty north of Alaska to the southernmost tip of Chile, from Buenos Aires to New York City - the Advent season is celebrated across the entire American double continent. But there are huge differences in how Christmas is celebrated. This diversity is also reflected in the music that precedes and accompanies the festivities. While the Argentinian composer Ariel Ramírez takes up the lively rhythms of South American dances in his cantata "Navidad Nuestra" ("Our Christmas"), songs such as "White Christmas" or "I'll Be Home for Christmas" succeed in translating the contemplative into the popular in a unique way. Join sopranos Julie Wyma and Valeria Delmé and pianist Jamison Livsey on a journey through the musical realms on the other side of the Atlantic.

Julie Wyma comes from the USA and studied at the universities of Indiana, Missouri and Arizona. Numerous performances on the opera and concert stage have taken her throughout the USA and Europe. Since the 2021/22 season, she has been a member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin chorus as 1st soprano, where she not only sings in the major choral operas with her colleagues, but also takes on a solo role as La Conversa in SUOR ANGELICA. In addition to her work as a singer, Julie Wyma is also active as a singing teacher, costume designer and director.

Valeria Delmé was born in Buenos Aires and gained her first musical experience at an early age, including as a soloist in the children's chorus of the Teatro Colón. This was followed by further opera performances on various stages in Argentina and training at the Conservatorio Superior de Música "Manuel de Falla" before she began performing regularly in Germany in 2017. Valeria Delmé now sings as 2nd soprano in the chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

The pianist and conductor Jamison Livsey studied at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2016, he conducted a premiere of TURN OF THE SCREW in Tel Aviv. He has worked as a répétiteur with conducting engagements at many opera companies, including Minnesota Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera Cleveland, Anchorage Opera, Opera in Williamsburg, Toledo Opera, Sugar Creek Symphony and Song, Pine Mountain Music Festival and Opera North. He has also appeared with these opera companies as a harpsichordist and orchestral pianist with a repertoire ranging from Monteverdi and Rossini to the present day. He has worked as a guest conductor at Opera Santa Barbara. He is also active as a Lied accompanist, including for Vivica Genaux. At the Deutsche Oper Berlin, he works as a répétiteur in the chorus.