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date: 18 October 2019


  • Julian Budden


Melodramma in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to a libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica after Victorien Sardou’s play La Tosca; Rome, Teatro Costanzi, 14 January 1900.

In May 1889, less than a month after the première of Edgar, Puccini wrote to the publisher Ricordi begging him to obtain Sardou’s permission to set his play, ‘since in this Tosca I see the opera that I need: one without excessive proportions or a decorative spectacle; nor is it the kind that calls for a superabundance of music’ – by which he meant that it did not conform to the genre of ‘grand opera’ which had been in vogue in Italy since the 1870s. For the time being matters went no further and Puccini turned his attention to other subjects. In 1895, however, he saw the play performed in Florence with Sarah Bernhardt (for whom it was written) in the title role. The following year, with ...

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