Great Moments In Opera, Conclusion To Puccini's "Tosca"

The conclusion to Puccini's Tosca is one of the most dramatic ever in the history of opera. It is after Mario Cavaradossi finishes singing "E Lucevan Le Stelle" that Floria Tosca comes to see him to tell him the wonderful news. Tosca telling her lover, Mario Cavaradossi that she has struck a deal with Scarpia in which his execution will be but a simulation to give the impression that he has been killed. This so Scarpia can save face but the truth is that they will only pretend to execute him. After which he is free to go with her to the boarder where the document she has received from Scarpia will guarantee her and the one who accompanies her a safe passage.

Mario, naturally rejoices at the offer which has been made as he shows his joy yet Tosca tells him that it would best if he did not smile and put on the face of somebody who is about to be executed. Mario accepts as he makes his best effort to look the part yet Tosca is feeling the elation of triumph which she unlike Mario does not have to hide or at least not to the same extent. Tosca after all has not only secured a deal which should save the love of her life but has even killed the man who was feared by practically the whole of Rome.

It had been Tosca, herself who with steak knife had stabbed Scarpia to death. After which she had the pleasure of seeing him plead for help as he looked in to her eyes which declared all too clearly that it was she and nobody else who was killing him. This was Tosca's moment as Mario is about to be executed which is her victory as she has not only been able to safe her beloved but has done away with the dreaded Scarpia. Tosca showing all the joy of those who are about to emerge triumphant yet for my part I see this as being Angela Gheorghiu. Gheorghiu best capturing the sensual passionate woman of strength; who is but one of fiction yet comes to life when interpreted by Angela Gheorghiu.

Mario Cavaradossi is taken to where a firing squad will fire upon him yet all the while we see and hear Floria Tosca as she describes the scene while the music is one of victory mixed with drama and suspense. Tosca calls it a comedy yet one which they must go through if they are to be free. This as she finds it almost too difficult to control her emotions of joy yet she must await for the ceremony to be completed before she and Mario can be off. All in the fashion of a child who is forced to look at presents, he or she can not open till Christmas and is very much aware of the fact that they will be taken away if he or she even attempts to open them prior to the day of Christmas.

The music increases in its bombastic effects as Mario is fired upon yet Tosca admires and even praises him for his acting ability which allows him to fall to the ground so convincingly when he is shot. Tosca words being "Ecco un artista!" (there is an artist) with a hint of pride that perhaps he has been influenced by seeing her on stage on so many occasions while her eyes sparkle with all their beauty as does the rest of her with the radiance which is really Angela Gheorghiu's. Angela Gheorghiu being the one to bring vigor to this character by not only providing her with a grand voice but making her come to life; as if she were transforming herself in to Floria Tosca.

The tension in the music builds as Mario is about to be fired upon while Tosca thrills in ecstasy and it is precisely at the moment that the shots finally come that there is a moment of relief. As if all is but a distant memory and Tosca and Cavaradossi are free at last. Tosca as if passing on instructions to Mario not to move which he of course can not hear yet they are perhaps more for herself. This as Spoletta goes over to check if Mario is really dead which he does with a touch upon Mario's throat; after which he turns to Tosca and smiles with a wink. This as if passing on a secrete message that their deal is completed and she and he are free to go in peace.

Tosca awaits the moment for all the guards to leave the place so she can rush over to her Mario and be on their way. Tosca seeming like a child who is waiting for that moment on Christmas in which she can open her presents yet knows that it will arrive any minute. This as Tosca continues to sing out instructions to Mario that he must not move. Tosca acting much like an air traffic controller when guiding an airplane on to a runaway which is about to land. Tosca trying so hard to control both the elation she is feeling along with Mario's.

The moment does arrive when all the soldiers have gone and there is a silence which is relief that all is over. This prompting Tosca to run to Mario like that child to her Christmas presents with all her desires and hopes being as apparent as the beauty which radiates from her. Tosca runs and kneels to Mario, whom she urges to get up so they can escape yet it is at that moment that she sees that all those lovely Christmas presents were but beautifully decorated boxes which in fact are empty. This being the cruel joke which had been played upon her by Scarpia. As the truth is that Mario is truly dead and the execution had been real.

Tosca crying out "morto,morto" (dead) in despair as all her optimism has been dashed. Tosca now seeing that all had been but a trick to fool her in to making love to Scarpia; who had been no more honest in keeping his end of the bargain than she had been in keeping hers. Tosca's bitter tears are clear as she feels the rage of having her beloved lie dead at her feet yet just as she is going through the anxiety of Mario's death; she hears voices and the firing squad returning. It is apparent that Scarpia's body has been found and that this time they are coming for her.

All of which sending Floria Tosca in to a frantic run to where she might be able to jump off the top of Saint Angelo's castle which is the place where they find themselves. This being a fall which is sure to kill her yet she is Tosca, who will slay herself; for her life is hers and hers alone to end. This as the music reaches dramatic heights as Tosca runs with the freedom of those who are still in a position to decide their own fate for themselves. Tosca standing on top of the parapet as she screams "Scarpia will answer to God!" just before jumping to her demise. Thus bringing Puccini's opera Tosca to its grand conclusion which grants neither defeat nor victory to any of its main characters; as to a certain extent they have all died with a taste of both.

In conclusion, I would say there is grandness in Puccini's "Tosca" as it allows us to feel all the emotions of victory while it demonstrates the political turmoil of the time. As for the role of Tosca though many have played this particular role; I would say that there is something about Angela Gheorghiu's perhaps passion along with her perhaps at times capricious ways which make her the ideal Tosca. Angela Gheorghiu being one whose gestures and strength of personality seem ideally suited to play this woman, who adores with all of herself; in ways that do not exclude those of jealousy and possessiveness. Naturally, it also being the power of her voice which allows us to feel the pain of Floria Tosca; whose ways include not only those of a woman of strength but at times those of a delightful child.

My name is Gianni Truvianni, author of many an article to be found on the internet along with the book "New York's Opera Society". My works also include the books "What Should Not Matter", "Love Your Sister" and several others which still remain unpublished though I am presently looking to change this.
By Gianni Truvianni

1 comment:

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