Macaulay Seminar One at Brooklyn College
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Tosca at the Met

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Puccini’s Tosca at the Met with my family. Going into it, I knew the opera’s reputation as being one of the finest of its breed, and I knew the major arias, like Vissi d’Arte. All of this prior information, however, did not prepare me for the magnificence that was Tosca. The protagonist, Floria Tosca, is a singer and infamously jealous lover. Her boyfriend, Mario Cavaradossi, is a painter. The basic plot of the opera is that the evil Baron Scarpia gives Tosca an ultimatum: Succumb to my lust, or have your lover Cavaradossi hanged. Feigning agreement, Tosca stabs Scarpia as he goes to embrace her. Mario is killed by what is supposed to be a mock execution, and Tosca commits suicide, as not to be caught for the murder of Scarpia.

What amazed me most about this opera was not just the impeccability of the music, but the complexity of Tosca as a character. She is kind, passionate, and gentle, but at the same time, jealous and fierce. She overcomes her docile nature for the sake of the love she shares with Mario; she slays the Baron to save him. The commitment Tosca has to Mario is beautiful and inspiring, as is this opera as a whole, despite its grim ending. It was so engrossing and enchanting, that even though you could predict the sequence of events after the Baron’s ultimatum, it was still surprising and emotionally debilitating to see the story end in such tragedy. Needless to say, Tosca exceeded by expectations and manipulated my emotions completely.

1 comment

1 Joseph Ugoretz { 11.07.13 at 4:15 pm }

I remember that you were a bit apprehensive about having your classmates see “Midsummer Night’s Dream” in English as our only opera. It’s so different from “Tosca.” Which do you think would have been the better choice for opera newbies?

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