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An Insider's Guide to TOSCA

Puccini's Tosca is opera at its finest, combining a heartbreaking story with achingly beautiful music that puts it on par with the composer's other beloved masterpieces Madama Butterfly and La Bohème. Learn more about this magnificent opera with interviews, audio previews, and more.

Puccini's Tosca  is opera at its finest, combining a heartbreaking story with achingly beautiful music that puts it on par with the composer's other beloved masterpieces Madama Butterfly and La Bohème. Learn more about this magnificent opera with interviews, audio previews, and more. 

Tosca, an impulsive opera star, is in love with a rebel artist—but he is hunted by a villainous police chief who will stop at nothing to capture his prey. What price is too high to save the man you love? For more than a hundred years, audiences have watched and listened spellbound as the cat-and-mouse game between diva Tosca and the devious Scarpia plays to its deadly conclusion. 

Lyric Opera presents two dynamic casts to bring this dramatic story to life. Tatiana Serjan (Tosca), Misha Didyk (Cavaradossi), and Evgeny Nikitin (Scarpia) portray this deadly love triangle from January 24 through February 5 and all make their Lyric debuts. Then from February 27 through March 14, Hui HeJorge de León (debut), and Mark Delavan take over the roles of lover, artist, and police chief. Dynamic young conductor Dmitri Jurowski makes his podium debut in this new Lyric coproduction from director John Caird, who dazzled with last season's Parsifal. 

Articles with insights from the cast and creative team

A Tosca of Many Nations
There's no composer in opera more popular worldwide than Puccini, and it's not only in Italy that great Puccini interpreters are produced!  Look, for example, at Lyric Opera's Tosca—the two trios of principals and the conductor together represent five different nations. READ MORE

Lyric U: Sopranos – how high can you go?
Tosca contains one of the most beautiful and famous arias in the whole soprano repertoire: "Vissi d'arte." This glorious lament describes how the heroine Tosca has lived for art and love, only to have fate turn against her. Lyric's own Anthony Freud, Sir Andrew Davis, and Renée Fleming talk through what distinguishes the soprano voice in opera, with bonus video examples of other great soprano arias on stage at Lyric this season. READ MORE

Lyric U: Baritones in opera
A survey of great baritone roles in opera would not be complete without Scarpia. His Te Deum provides one of the most powerful scenes in all of opera, as the villain sings of his lust and his horrific plan to force Tosca into loving him, all against the backdrop of a prayer. Looking for more great baritone showcases? This Lyric U post highlights some other notable scenes. READ MORE

Tosca Audio Preview

Music director Sir Andrew Davis shares the synopsis and excerpts from Puccini's Tosca. Recordings used by permission of EMI Classics.

Lyric U: Sopranos – how high can you go?

Get to know the soprano voice type with Renée Fleming, Anthony Freud, and Sir Andrew Davis in our latest Lyric U voice series installment. Plus hear examples of great soprano arias from some of the operas still on deck for this season: Anna Bolena, Tosca, Porgy and Bess, and Tannhäuser.

The soprano voice is one of the most recognizable in opera, with many famous arias and indelible images (Brünnhilde in a Viking hat, anyone?) that are immediately recognizable.

But what exactly is a soprano? And what kind of roles does that voice usually portray in opera? In our latest Lyric U video, Lyric's own Anthony Freud, Sir Andrew Davis, and Renée Fleming discuss the soprano with a few key musical excerpts sprinkled throughout.

 

Looking for some outstanding soprano roles at Lyric?  Here are just a few of the great arias featured this season.

Anna Bolena - "Coppia iniqua"

Donizetti's bel canto gem tells the story of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and Jane Seymour. Though it takes some historical license, all is forgiven when the singers' vocal fireworks are unleashed. Sondra Radanovsky takes on the role here at Lyric from December 6 through January 16. Here is Anna Netrebko performing "Coppia iniqua" from the Metropolitan Opera's 2011 production:

 

Tosca - "Vissi d'arte"

This season features one of the greatest soprano roles, the diva to end all divas: Tosca. Puccini's gut-wrenching story features a number of incredible musical moments, but none is quite so magical as "Vissi d'arte," Tosca's beautiful aria describing how she's lived for art and love, only to have fate turn against her. This season, you have two chances to hear this wonderful piece interpreted with Tatiana Serjan and Hui He both starring in the new-to-Lyric production from January 24 to March 14.

Here's Sondra Radvanovsky performing the aria in the Metropolitan Opera's production from 2011:

 

Porgy and Bess - "Summertime"

"Summertime" is arguably the most famous aria from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess—and it has become a popular tune outside the opera (here's ample evidence!). The great Kathleen Battle performs the opera's opening aria with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, led by Charles Dutoit:

 

Tannhäuser - "Dich, teure Halle"

Ryan Opera Center alumna Amber Wagner does double-duty this season; in addition to portraying Leonora in Il Trovatore, she comes back in February for Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser, which features some of the composer's most majestic music. If you missed Amber Wagner performing this at Lyric's 60th Anniversary Concert,  here is a historic recording of the incomparable Birgit Nilsson performing Elisabeth's greeting, "Dich, teure Halle":

 

Il Trovatore - "Tacea la notte placida"

Verdi's Il Trovatore is filled with show-stopping numbers, including the Anvil Chorus, but the character of Leonora has a beautiful aria in Act 2 describing the first time she heard the serenade of the troubadour Manrico. Amber Wagner took on the role at Lyric in October and November, and here is Barbara Frittoli in a production from La Scala in 2001:

 

Photo credits:

  • Sondra Radvanovsky in Anna Bolena (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • Adina Aaron in Porgy and Bess (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • Tatiana Serjan (credit Todd Rosenberg)
  • Hui He (courtesy Zemsky/Green Artist Managment)
  • Amber Wagner at Lyric's 60th Anniversary Concert (credit Michael Brosilow / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • Amber Wagner in Verdi's Il Trovatore (credit Michael Brosilow / Lyric Opera of Chicago)

(Lyric Opera of Chicago does not own copyrights to any of the above videos.)

Your guide to an operatic Halloween

No need to go as a superhero or your favorite president for Halloween this year - opera is full of larger-than-life characters, from Azucena to the Commendatore, that will make you the talk of your costume party.

No need to go as a superhero or your favorite president for Halloween this year - opera is full of larger-than-life characters, from Azucena to the Commendatore, that will make you the talk of your costume party. 

Azucena from Il Trovatore

 
The revenge-obsessed gypsy 

 
Costume: Think of it as peasant-chic. A colorful bohemian blouse and skirt with beaded necklace. Bed head is encouraged!

Must-have accessory: Convince some friends to join in the fun and sing the Anvil Chorus wherever you go. Or just carry around a knife to lend that authentic touch.

Optional: Make it a night to remember by orchestrating the demise of your adopted son, who is actually the brother of your sworn enemy.

Henry VIII from Anna Bolena

 
The lustful king

Costume: An ermine robe is the only way to go, plus the latest in 16th century fashion: doublet, jerkin, and hose.

Must-have accessory: Crown and scepter.

Optional: Have a second date lined up for later in the night just in case you have to move on to plan B...for Boleyn. 

 Floria Tosca from Tosca


The ultimate diva

Costume: A diva never leaves the house in anything less than her best gown. Hair and jewelry should be over-the-top. Think bling!

Must-have accessory: A handsome painter who calls you his muse.

Optional: A willingness to take a big leap in the name of love

Venus from Tannhäuser

The goddess of love

Costume: A seductive goddess gown will help lure men into your realm.

Must-have accessory: A giant bed always helps when you're encouraging people to give in to the pleasures of the flesh.

Optional: To truly mimic the pleasure of Venusburg, surround yourself with a coterie of attractive ballet dancers at your Halloween bacchanal.

Manrico from Il Trovatore


The warrior-troubadour and devoted son

Costume: A puffy shirt, tight pants, and leather boots are your preferred look.

Must-have accessories: A lute to serenade your beloved and a sword to fight your enemies.

Optional: An ongoing feud with your arch-nemesis, who also happens to be your brother.

Donna Elvira from Don Giovanni

 
The independent lady

Costume: Think 1920s chic…pants, pin-curled hair, and a take-no-prisoners attitude. Donna Elvira would probably love hanging out with a young Amelia Earhart.

Must-have accessory: Motorcycle

Optional: If you can recreate the Picasso dress from Lyric's new production, go nuts!!!

The Commendatore from Don Giovanni


The murdered father / escort to the underworld

Costume: Channel your inner statue - paint any suit or military outfit green and gray and be sure to cover your face and hair in a ghost-like sheen.

Must-have accessory: Bring your own pedestal, for better lurking in a cemetery.  

Optional: We're not saying that you have to condemn someone to hell, but it's nice to know you have the power.

Photo credits

  • Stephanie Blythe in Lyric's production of Il Trovatore; credit Michael Brosilow / Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Kyle Ketelsen as Henry VIII in Anna Bolena; credit Michal Daniel / Minnesota Opera
  • Doina Dimitriu (left) and Violeta Urmana at Lyric; credit Dan Rest / Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Michaela Schuster in 

    Tannhäuser; credit 

     Clive Barda / Royal Opera House
  • Yonghoon Lee in Il Trovatore at Lyric; credit Michael Brosilow / Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Ana María Martínez in Don Giovanni at Lyric; credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago

  • Andrea Silvestrelli 

    Don Giovanni at Lyric; credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago

 

Lyric U: Baritones in opera

Have you tuned into Lyric U? Check out our new video library, which starts with an in-depth exploration of the baritone in opera with Sir Andrew Davis, Anthony Freud, and Renée Fleming. Plus, check out some video highlights of the greatest baritone arias on stage this season.

Have you tuned in to Lyric U? It's Lyric's new resource for things opera, giving everyone an easy way to explore, discover, and engage. Whether you're new to the art form and looking for Opera 101 or an aficionado who wants to earn a PhD in Advanced Opera Studies, let Lyric U guide the way with this ever-expanding video library.

One of the new features on Lyric U is "From Soprano to Bass: Exploring Voice in Opera." Sir Andrew Davis, Renée Fleming, and Anthony Freud are your guides through the seven different categories of the human voice in this in-depth video series.

The first video in the series focuses on the baritone. This vocal range might be stuck in the middle of tenor and bass, but the baritone is definitely not a voice that can be easily overlooked. Some of the most famous roles in opera are portrayed by baritones-the ultimate bad boy in Mozart's Don Giovanni, the resourceful fixer Figaro in Rossini's The Barber of Seville, the king of the gods Wotan in Wagner's Ring cycle, and the great title roles in Verdi's Rigoletto, Falstaff, and Simon Boccanegra

 

Want to hear more? Below are video samples of some of the great baritone showcases that you can hear as part of Lyric's 2014-15 season.

Il Trovatore  - "Il balen del suo sorriso"

In Act 2 "The Gypsy" of Verdi's Il Trovatore, the villainous Count di Luna sings of his devotion to Leonora, who has decided to enter a convent because she believes her true love Manrico is dead. Though di Luna's song speaks to a beautiful love, he is actually plotting to kidnap her - thinking that the convent is the only obstacle to their happiness. Ryan Opera Center alum Quinn Kelsey takes on the role at Lyric from October 27 to November 29. 

 

(Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Metropolitan Opera, 2011)

Porgy and Bess  - "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'"

This quintessential American opera has many timeless songs, including "Summertime" and "Bess, You Is My Woman Now, but one of Porgy's most famous arias is this ode to his simple life. Lyric favorite Eric Owens brings this iconic role to Chicago from November 17 to December 20. 

 

(Lawrence Winters, Columbia Masterworks recording, 1951)

Tosca - Te Deum

Scarpia, the police chief who is ruthlessly hunting the rebel artist Cavaradossi, sings of his lust and terrible plan to force Tosca into loving him, against the backdrop of a prayer. This season, two singers take on this villianous role: Evgeny Nikitin (Lyric debut, January 24 to February 5) and Mark Delavan (February 27 to March 14). 

 

(George Gagnidze, Metropolitan Opera, 2009)

Tannhäuser  - "O du mein holder Abendstern" (Song of the Evening Star)

This aria from Act 3 of Tannhäuser is in the pantheon of one of the most beautiful arias ever written, and is one of Wagner's most haunting melodies. Wolfram von Eschenbach loves the faithful and chaste Elisabeth, but she is in love with Tannhäuser; in this aria, he has a premonition of her death. Gerald Finley stars as Wolfram at Lyric from February 9 to March 6. 

 

(Peter Mattei, Staatsoper Berlin, 2014)

Don Giovanni  - "Deh vieni all finestra"

While posing as his right-hand man Leporello, Don Giovanni serenades the maid of his former conquest Donna Elvira with this lovely aria from Act Two. Mariusz Kwiecień stars in Lyric's hot-blooded new production through October 29. 

 

(Bryn Terfel, Metropolitan Opera, 2000)

Photo credits:

  • Top row: Quinn Kelsey (credit Dan Rest / Lyric Opera of Chicago); Evgeny Nikitin (credit Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera)
  • Bottom row: Eric Owens in Porgy and Bess (credit Terrence McCarthy / San Francisco Opera); Mariusz Kwiecień stars as the title role in Don Giovanni (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)

(Lyric Opera of Chicago does not own copyrights to any of the above videos.)

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