Composed by Giacomo Puccini, this three act tragedy is about a painter (Mario Cavaradossi) in love with an famous singer, (Floria Tosca). Tosca is admired by more than a painter, though, for Baron Scarpia, the chief of police, desires her as well.
Taking place during the threat of Napoleonic invasion in Rome, Italy, the opera’s atmosphere already starts with a melodramatic tension. Cavaradossi has found an escape from the dangers of the outside world by staying inside a church, painting Mary Magdelene. The Sacristan brings him food and points out how this painting resembles the famous singer, Floria Tosca. The first aria “Recondita armonia” is Cavardossi comparing the beauty of Mary to the beauty of his lover, Tosca, while also pointing out the differences. Unconvinced that Cabardossi is avoiding sacrilege, the Sacristan leaves.
Scarpia, while the villain, is my favourite character. He is devious and uses his position to obtain what he desires. He’s also the baritone, showing off his evil intentions and impressive range in “Ha più forte sapore“.
I don’t want to tell too much of the opera, because it is very romantic and has quite a few plot twists in it, but I will say it is one of the best operas for women who enjoy strong female characters. Often in operas, the woman is torn between two men and let the men duke it out, but with Tosca, she makes her own decisions…and suffers those consequences.
I do not have a favourite that has portrayed any of these characters, but the movie version was the first opera recording I ever bought. It sparked my passion when I was a junior in high school (four years ago!) and I still enjoy listening to it when I can.