From its famous, dissonant opening chords, Tosca conjures up a world of political instability and menace. The Chief of Police, Scarpia – one of the most malevolent villains in opera – ruthlessly pursues and tortures enemies of the state. His dark, demonic music contrasts with the expansive melodies of the idealistic lovers, Tosca and Cavaradossi, who express their passion in sublime arias. Giacomo Puccini’s dramatic work was an instant hit with audiences on its 1900 premiere and it remains one of the most performed of all operas.
A candle-lit church, the darkness of a brooding study with its hidden torture chamber and the false optimism of a Roman dawn: Jonathan Kent’s naturalistic production throws into relief the ruthlessly taut drama, as the tension is wound up towards its fateful conclusion. Puccini’s score is infused with the same authentic detail, from distant canon fire during the Act I ‘Te Deum’ to tolling church bells and the sounds of a firing squad.