From its strident 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, including ‘Vissi d’arte’ and ‘E lucevan le stelle’. Giacomo Puccini’s dramatic work was a hit with audiences on its 1900 premiere and it remains one of the most performed of all operas – and with its gripping plot and glorious music, it’s easy to see why.
A candle-lit church, Scarpia’s gloomy study with its hidden torture chamber and the false optimism of a Roman dawn: Jonathan Kent’s handsome production throws into relief the ruthlessly taut drama, as the tension is wound up towards its fateful conclusion.