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Tosca takes stage this Sunday night at 8 (12/01) on the Lyric Stage

In Giacomo Puccini's Tosca, the prima donna Tosca is forced to play a role she never wanted when she becomes trapped between her love of the artist and political rebel Mario Cavaradossi and the scheming of the police chief Baron Scarpia, who will stop at nothing to satisfy his lust for her. The resulting tension leads to explosive action, including assassination, treachery, murder  and suicide, unusually brutal for the opera stage, according to some critics, but along with some of Puccini's best music, successful from its premiere in Rome in 1900 to the present day.

This week we feature highlights from Tosca. When he and his librettists worked on on the opea, Puccini consulted with the playwright Victorien Sardou, who wrote the original stage version which premiered in 1887 with Sarah Bernhardt as Tosca. Puccini did not think much of the playwright's ideas. For example, Sardou wanted Tosca to die on stage, but Puccini wanted her to leap from the parapet of the Castel Gondalfo into the Tiber. Puccini prevailed, and so we have one of his more famous endings as the final tragedy of the opera.

The highlights are from a 1957 studio recording, with Zinka Milanov as Tosca, Jussi Bjoerling her lover Mario Cavaradossi, and Leonard Warren the malevolent Baron Scarpia. Erich Leinsdorf conducts the Rome Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The libretto is by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica based on the play by Victorien Sardou.