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Greek National Opera stages 20th century version of Tosca March 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera.

Tosca, a femme fatale, stirs up a film-noir Rome > The new production reinforces the suspense of ‘Tosca.’

The high-voltage characters of Tosca, Cavaradossi and Scarpia reunite at the Greek National Opera for what promises to be a cinematic approach of Giacomo Puccini’s celebrated “Tosca.”

The well-known work opens at the Olympia Theater on Sunday with additional performances scheduled for March 20, 22, 24, 28 and 30 and April 1. Directed by Nikos Petropoulos, who also designed the upcoming production’s costumes and sets, the opera’s action unfolds in 1944 Rome, in a film-noir mood.

Deceit and betrayal lie at the heart of “Tosca” in the libretto written by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. An artist with a passion for democracy, Mario Cavaradossi is the lover of Tosca, an opera diva. When Cavaradossi is arrested by chief of police Baron Scarpia, on account of his political actions and beliefs, Tosca leads Scarpia to believe that she will sleep with him in exchange for her lover’s freedom.

The story behind the development of “Tosca” carries enough drama itself. In search of a subject matter for a new opera in 1889, the 30-year-old Puccini turned to French texts such as Maurice Maeterlinck’s “Pelleas et Melisande,” Emile Zola’s “La faute de l’abbe Mouret” and Victorien Sardou’s “La Tosca,” among others. A year later, the composer saw a production of Sardou’s play in Milan, and though unable to follow the French text was taken by the play’s leading actress, Sarah Bernhardt. He decided to compose an opera based on the Sardou play, but was promptly told by a Sardou representative that the playwright was not willing to entrust Puccini with his work, labeling the Italian “an unknown composer.”

Despite his great disappointment, Puccini decided to work on “Tosca” on his own. Meanwhile the rights had been given to Alberto Franchetti in 1893, who, at one point, admitted that he was unable to compose the music. Puccini was back in the picture and the opera was finalized in 1899. The opera features well-known arias such as “Recondita armonia,” “Vissi d’arte” and “E lucevan le stelle.”

At the National Opera the cast includes Kristine Opolais as Tosca, Misha Didyk as Cavaradossi and Peter Sidhom as Scarpia.

At the Greek National Opera, Olympia Theater, 59-61 Academias Street, Athens, tel 210 3612461 and 210 3643725.

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