So yesterday I was at the Vienna State Opera to see Tosca after I saw it in my hometown in the summer. It was part of the repertoire last season but I just did not have the time to see it at the time and I knew it was coming this season again so I just decided to wait. I think I made a good decision because it turn out that I would probably see the opera twice this season because of the cast which is starring.
Yesterday it was concluding Maria José Siri and Roberto Alagna which both are amazing singers and it was a pure pleasure to hear them both sing. I have to be honest I caught myself feeling very emotional and my eyes teared up – the acting was so convincing and as you may know the plot is very dramatic.
For those of you who are not familiar I will briefly explain it – the first act begins in a church where the painter Mario is doing a painting of Maria Magdalena. At the time there is this guy that escaped prison and came to hide in the same church. Turns up both of them know each other and are actually old friends so Mario promises him to shelter him in his house and help him out. After that his mistress Tosca comes into the church. She is a rather jealous gale and she asks him thousand questions who is he there with and why is the woman in the painting resembling a girl from the church. Then he convinces her there is nothing to worry about and send her away.
Because the police are searching for escaped prisoner they come searching in the church. Ahead of the troupe is Sparafucile who is actually in love with Tosca. He decides to find a way to get rid of Mario and make her somehow surrender to be his. He tries to convince her that the painter is cheating on her and now is involved in the crime because he is hiding a criminal. Tosca doesn’t want to believe it but soon they capture Mario and start torturing him in front of her to make them both confess where the prisoner is. Sparafucile tells Tosca that she can save her beloved one if she surrender herself to him. She is repulsed but when he is about to send the guards to execute him she changes her mind. She makes him promise that he will set Mario free and he will give them both a document with which they would flee. Once he singed it he approaches her but she has been hiding a knife with which she stabs him and he dies. At that time Mario is writing his final letter to Tosca (and sings the most famous aria in the opera) because he thinks he will never see his beloved one again. In that moment Tosca comes and confesses everything she has done and tells him that the guards won’t shoot him for real so he has to pretend that he is dying and then they can travel far away. The hug and kiss each other, tears of joy (mine were tears of sadness) and the time for the execution comes. Tosca is observing from aside and sees the whole process. She is talking to herself what a good actor Mario is but once the guards are gone she sees that he is really dead. In the same time the murder of Sparafucile is found out and they search for Tosca so they can capture her. But there is nothing more on this world for her and she kills herself by jumping from the fortress’ walls.
So as you can see it is so dramatic because once you know the plot you can fully realize what is going on. I think for me the most tragic part was when they both weren’t suspecting anything, making promises to each other and plans how they would be together once everything is over and in the mean time I, as a viewer, knew exactly what was upon the two of them. Don’t get me wrong I know it is just acting but first – it looks very real on stage, especially if you have high class opera singers like these ones, which can make you believe that they are in love, dead and going through all kinds of emotions. Second it is just a metaphor for how life really is – you never know what lies ahead of you. One can make plans as much as they want but your future is not always determined solemnly by you.
The setting I must admit was not very impressive – there are far better ones that I have seen in Vienna and I mean there is nothing wrong with it but it is just too classical. I have nothing against it but since we are in the 21st century it is not a bad idea things to evolve and progress with time. I’ve seen successful and unsuccessful modern performances and there is a very thin line between them both but still the same setting since 1958, come on. (Yes, it is really that old, if you don’t trust me you can check it up on the Vienna State Opera website)
And even though I have my little remarks I personally think the atmosphere you get, quality and just experience is the best one can have. You just feel at home. I would highly recommend to go there at least once and witness it yourself.
(c) Tosca/ wiener-staatsoper.at