San Francisco Opera’s production of Puccini’s Tosca opens this evening at the War Memorial Opera House. Puccini set his historical melodrama in Rome in 1800, a time during which the control of the city by the Kingdom of Naples was threatened by Napoleon’s invasion of Italy. A story of love, lust, treachery and corruption, with libretto by Luigi Illica and Guiseppe Giacosa, the opera was based on Victorien Sardou’s 1887 play, La Tosca, which featured the actress Sarah Bernhard in the title role.
Puccini’s opera premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900, and although it features some of the composer’s most beautiful and best known arias, it was apparently not particularly well received by the critics. The audiences, however, loved it.
Making her San Francisco Opera debut in the role of the singer, Floria Tosca, is Armenian soprano, Lianna Haroutounian, much in demand throughout Europe for her performances as the heroine in roles such as Desdemona (Otello), Mimi (La Bohème), Amelia (Un Ballo in Maschera), Elisabetta (Don Carlos) and Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly) this past summer.
The painter, Mario Cavaradossi, is sung by Brian Jagde, who sang this role in San Francisco Opera’s 2012 production of Tosca, and also at Deutsche Oper Berlin and Santa Fe Opera. Mr Jagde’s most recent appearance with SF Opera was as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly.
Bass-baritone Mark Delavan appears as Baron Scarpia, chief of the secret police. Mr Delavan, whose portrayal of Wotan and the Wanderer in San Francisco Opera’s 2011 Ring cycle won him much acclaim, also sang Scarpia in the Company’s 2012 production of Tosca – one of more than 17 appearances with San Francisco Opera. He has also sung Scarpia at Deutsche Oper Berlin and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden.
Italian conductor Riccardo Frizza leads the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in this production of Tosca. Maestro Frizza’s first production with the Company was with Lucrezia Borgia in 2011, and he returned in 2012 to conduct I Capuleti e i Montecchi. The list of some of the world’s leading orchestras which Maestro Frizza has conducted is impressive, as is the number of major festivals at which he has appeared, and he is much in demand by opera houses throughout Europe, and at the Metropolitan Opera.
The director of this production of Tosca is Jose Maria Condemi – the third time he has directed this work for the Company – and design is by Thierry Bosquet. First conceived by Lotfi Mansouri in 1997, it is a re-creation of Armando Agnini’s production of the opera that opened the War Memorial Opera House in 1932.
San Francisco Opera’s presentation of Puccini’s Tosca – sung in Italian with English supertitles – takes place at the War Memorial Opera House for five performances, from October 23 to November 8. Tickets may be purchased at sfopera.com or through the San Francisco Opera Box Office – 301 Van Ness Avenue (at Grove Street) – or by phone at (415) 864-3330.
For further information please visit www.sfopera.com.