Tosca

Deutsche Oper Berlin, Berlin, Germany
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Important Info
Type: Opera
City: Berlin, Germany
Starts at: 19:30
Overview

Puccini's "Torture Opera", as Oskar Bie dubbed it, was based on LA TOSCA, the well received play by Victorien Sardou [1831–1908], which premiered in Paris in 1887 with Sarah Bernhardt in the title role. Puccini attended a performance of the play in Milan during an 1889 tour and found the subject matter interesting, although the Tosca project was to remain dormant for another six years. Puccini's interest in the work grew, doubtless prompted by another viewing of the Sardou play in Florence and by Luigi Illica's work on a TOSCA libretto for composer Alberto Franchetti [1860–1942]. Following a "conspiracy" between Puccini, Illica and Ricordi, the publisher successfully persuaded Franchetti to abandon his TOSCA project and to surrender the scoring rights to Puccini.

As in all other Puccini operas TOSCA amply demonstrates the mutual causality between humane attentiveness and culinary pleasure when the composer's artistic intention becomes the benchmark for interpretations. The outcry and resignation are the two fundamental prerequisites for the human attention paid by Puccini: The empathy reflected in his composition, far from contenting itself with abstract gestures, aims to disturb and transform. The "small things" - Puccini refers to them with modern understatement as his preferred focus of attention – become "large issues", provided that we want this to happen.

In view of the connection between Puccini's choice of subject matter (directly and indirectly inspired by Zola, Hauptmann and Gorki) and his method of composition it is natural that we crown him Verdi's successor and confer on him the badge of "verismo". He is known to have been a great admirer of Wagner and anything but a second-rate imitator. He created a very personal bond with Verdi and Wagner by taking his inspiration from both masters. He took all their harmony refinements and subtleties of instrumentation and managed to detach the voice somewhat from the orchestra, all the while giving it a far more fragmented and melodically sensitive accompagnato in the orchestra than the radical and laconic Verdi ever had. This is also mirrored in the aesthetic theme of Tosca. Puccini's musical statement is as brutal as it is tender, as intelligent as it is sentimental, as precise as it is dreamy. Puccini's watchwords are authenticity, precision of musical detail, social awareness, the poetic sound of the ostensibly mundane, heroism coupled with shrewdness, the contrast between passionate commitment and cold remoteness.

The Chief of Police Scarpia, the singer Floria Tosca and the artist Cavaradossi in their different ways, all insist on their personal freedom to act as they please - Scarpia as a condition of his claim to power, Cavaradossi in his rebellious urge to bring about change and Tosca as an expression of a plain, unlimited love.

At a time of momentous change such attitudes take on an exemplary significance. Depending on how we view Puccini and ourselves today, we can approach TOSCA as a romantic shocker or as a bad omen for freedom. Whatever our attitude, each of these very different individuals in the triangular relationship pays the ultimate price for his or her actions. Their deaths are not accompanied by a glorious halo marked Redemption; they are bitter, horrific, definitive.

Götz Friedrich's 1987 reappraisal of Boleslaw Barlog's straightforward and unadulterated interpretation in 1969 takes Puccini's intentions literally: the mutual causality between humane attentiveness and culinary pleasure is nourished by the music and feeds, in turn, into the scenic interpretation

History
Premiere of this production: 14 January 1900, Teatro Costanzi, Rome

Tosca 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 on Victorien 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.

Venue Info

Deutsche Oper Berlin - Berlin
Location   Bismarckstraße 35

Venue's Capacity: 1698

The Deutsche Oper Berlin is an opera company located in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, Germany. The resident building is the country's second-largest opera house and also home to the Berlin State Ballet. Since 2004 the Deutsche Oper Berlin, like the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Berlin State Opera), the Komische Oper Berlin, the Berlin State Ballet, and the Bühnenservice Berlin (Stage and Costume Design), has been a member of the Berlin Opera Foundation.

The company's history goes back to the Deutsches Opernhaus built by the then independent city of Charlottenburg—the "richest town of Prussia"—according to plans designed by Heinrich Seeling from 1911. It opened on November 7, 1912 with a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, conducted by Ignatz Waghalter. In 1925, after the incorporation of Charlottenburg by the 1920 Greater Berlin Act, the name of the resident building was changed to Städtische Oper (Municipal Opera).

With the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, the opera was under control of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Minister Joseph Goebbels had the name changed back to Deutsches Opernhaus, competing with the Berlin State Opera in Mitte controlled by his rival, the Prussian minister-president Hermann Göring. In 1935, the building was remodeled by Paul Baumgarten and the seating reduced from 2300 to 2098. Carl Ebert, the pre-World War II general manager, chose to emigrate from Germany rather than endorse the Nazi view of music, and went on to co-found the Glyndebourne opera festival in England. He was replaced by Max von Schillings, who acceded to enact works of "unalloyed German character". Several artists, like the conductor Fritz Stiedry and the singer Alexander Kipnis, followed Ebert into emigration. The opera house was destroyed by a RAF air raid on 23 November 1943. Performances continued at the Admiralspalast in Mitte until 1945. Ebert returned as general manager after the war.

After the war, in what was now West Berlin, the company, again called Städtische Oper, used the nearby Theater des Westens; its opening production was Fidelio, on 4 September 1945. Its home was finally rebuilt in 1961 but to a much-changed, sober design by Fritz Bornemann. The opening production of the newly named Deutsche Oper, on 24 September, was Mozart's Don Giovanni.

Past Generalmusikdirektoren (GMD, general music directors) have included Bruno Walter, Kurt Adler, Ferenc Fricsay, Lorin Maazel, Gerd Albrecht, Jesús López-Cobos, and Christian Thielemann. In October 2005, the Italian conductor Renato Palumbo was appointed GMD as of the 2006/2007 season. In October 2007, the Deutsche Oper announced the appointment of Donald Runnicles as their next Generalmusikdirektor, effective August 2009, for an initial contract of five years. Simultaneously, Palumbo and the Deutsche Oper mutually agreed to terminate his contract, effective November 2007.

On the evening of 2 June 1967, Benno Ohnesorg, a student taking part in the German student movement, was shot in the streets around the opera house. He had been protesting against the visit to Germany by the Shah of Iran, who was attending a performance of Mozart's The Magic Flute.

In 1986 the American Berlin Opera Foundation was founded.

In April 2001, the Italian conductor Giuseppe Sinopoli died at the podium while conducting Verdi's Aida, at age 54.

In September 2006, the Deutsche Oper's Intendantin (general manager) Kirsten Harms drew criticism after she cancelled the production of Mozart's opera Idomeneo by Hans Neuenfels, because of fears that a scene in it featuring the severed heads of Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad would offend Muslims, and that the opera house's security might come under threat if violent protests took place. Critics of the decision include German Ministers and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The reaction from Muslims has been mixed — the leader of Germany's Islamic Council welcomed the decision, whilst a leader of Germany's Turkish community, criticising the decision, said:

This is about art, not about politics ... We should not make art dependent on religion — then we are back in the Middle Ages.

At the end of October 2006, the opera house announced that performances of Mozart's opera Idomeneo would then proceed. Kirsten Harms, after announcing in 2009 that she would not renew her contract beyond 2011, was bid farewell in July of that year.

Important Info
Type: Opera
City: Berlin, Germany
Starts at: 19:30