Tosca's Rome: The Play and the Opera in Historical Perspective

Overview

A timeless tale of love, lust, and politics, Tosca is one of the most popular operas ever written. In Tosca's Rome, Susan Vandiver Nicassio explores the surprising historical realities that lie behind Giacomo Puccini's opera and the play by Victorien Sardou on which it is based. By far the most "historical" opera in the active repertoire, Tosca is set in a very specific time and place: Rome, from June 17 to 18, 1800. But as Nicassio demonstrates, history in Tosca is distorted by nationalism and by the vehement ...

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Overview

A timeless tale of love, lust, and politics, Tosca is one of the most popular operas ever written. In Tosca's Rome, Susan Vandiver Nicassio explores the surprising historical realities that lie behind Giacomo Puccini's opera and the play by Victorien Sardou on which it is based. By far the most "historical" opera in the active repertoire, Tosca is set in a very specific time and place: Rome, from June 17 to 18, 1800. But as Nicassio demonstrates, history in Tosca is distorted by nationalism and by the vehement anticlerical perceptions of papal Rome shared by Sardou, Puccini, and the librettists. To provide the historical background necessary for understanding Tosca, Nicassio takes a detailed look at Rome in 1800 as each of Tosca's main characters would have seen it--the painter Cavaradossi, the singer Tosca, and the policeman Scarpia. Finally, she provides a scene-by-scene musical and dramatic analysis of the opera.

Opera lovers, lovers of Rome, and anyone seeking an accessible, interdisciplinary introduction to the history of late eighteenth-century Italy will enjoy this lively book.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Nicassio's critical look at Puccini's Tosca (one of the most popular and "historical" operas ever written) arrives just in time for its January 2000 centennial. An academic historian who has actually performed the role of Tosca, Nicassio is perfectly suited to deal with the opera's political and musical complexities. She divides her study into three large sections. In the first, she reviews Roman life in the late 18th and 19th centuries, paying considerable attention to how Puccini's own prejudices shaped his story and how Sardou (the French playwright) reinterpreted the historical realities that the opera treats. In the second section, she looks at how Rome circa 1800 was viewed through the eyes of a painter, a singer, and a policeman (the occupations of the opera's three main characters). This section, and the next--a scene-by-scene analysis of the opera--are continually revelatory and illuminating. A valuable appendix very clearly shows the parallels (and discrepancies) between the play and the opera. Nicassio's prose, though intensely scholarly, is lively and approachable. There is plenty here to intrigue everyone--seasoned opera lovers, musical novices, history buffs, and Italophiles. Highly recommended for all collections.--Larry A. Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226579726
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 356
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Vandiver Nicassio is an associate professor of history at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

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Table of Contents

List of lllustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 "Historico-topographico-panoramic Inexactitudes" 11
2 Sede Vacante: Rome without a Pope 27
3 The Painter's Rome 48
4 The Singer's Rome 77
5 The Policeman's Rome 101
6 Act One 123
7 Entr'Acte 169
8 Act Two 180
9 Act Three 221
App. 1 Sardou's La Tosca and Puccini's Tosca: Plots and Parallels 257
App. 2 Libretto-making 264
Notes 267
Bibliography 305
Index 323
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