Superstition is one of the great viruses of Italian, especially if it is dedicated to the performing arts, and on January 14, 1900, there were no good omens. Giacomo Puccini faced his great day, the premiere of his Tosca, but the interpreters were shaking their legs slightly at the anonymous letters that threatened to throw a bomb at the Costanzi Theater in Rome. The century had just opened and, in addition to the great celebrations, it was a time for the anonymous and the bombs, what will be done. The public was no stranger to it, the show began between murmurs and within a quarter of an hour it was necessary to stop in the face of widespread confusion. Luckily, there were only a few spectators who had arrived late, so the work reached the end without major damage.
Puccini liked women. So much that he asked to be buried the day he wasn't in love. But it was not the empowerment – what we would say today – of his muses on stage that put his great opera at risk. The perpetrators of the threats could rather be groups of detractors of the composer. It is only about rumorology of the time, but it had already happened against Toscanini, for example.
More likely is the hypothesis that the presence of Queen Marguerite of Savoy in the theater burned the mood of the anarchists. Because 1900 was also a time for violent revolutionaries. The fact is that Tosca was not received with the best reviews more than a century ago, but now that history will judge our days as the years of feminism, there was no better title with which to open the season opera of La Scala than that of this work.
Tosca will be, therefore, the protagonist of this December 7, the day in which Milan surrenders to the lyric, as it has been happening since 1778. The theater directors are making a rereading of the great Italian composers during the last years and After choosing «Attila» by Giuseppe Verdi in 2018, this time it's Puccini's turn.
What begins to be suspicious is that in the chosen works the role of the protagonist fits so well with the woman who stands up to injustices, as we breathe today. Of the Odabella who assassinates Attila to Tosca who liquidates Scarpia when he tries to abuse her. Yesterday at the presentation press conference, the director, Davide Livermore, acknowledged that "it is a timeless story", but that they do not make "chronic, but art."
But who says that art is not chronicle of his time. And although Tosca lived with the Napoleonic troops of the 1800s and was devised in a troubled Italy a century later, the one in charge of representing her this time is another woman of arms to take. Anna Netrebko, the diva among the divas, who as a good diva did not show up with the media, with the sole apology of the artistic director, Alex Pereira, who excused her.
She, who at this point sings what she wants and speaks when she wants, acknowledged in an interview previously agreed with "Il Corriere della Sera" that at first Tosca was not "nice". «Too hysterical, too much above all. Too much diva. I had so many clichés that the risk of getting ridiculous was great. Then, singing it night after night, I began to appreciate it and to see that Tosca besides diva is a woman ».
All this said by the biggest opera star of our day. That, to be fair, is more than probably the best soprano who can sing the heroine of Puccini. The great Russian lady comes from playing Floria Tosca in the Metropolitan and for her it will be the fourth opening in La Scala.
In his shadow will be this time Saioa Hernández, who made history last year by becoming the first Spanish to raise the curtain on December 7 in Milan, and that this time will be the protagonist in the last three replicas of the opera. A triumph for those who are working a more solid career every day in the great international theaters. In the role of Cavaradossi will be the Italian tenor Francesco Meli, another young but consolidated singer, who has already done duet on other occasions with Netrebko.
It will be the last opera of Alexander Pereira, who will leave the direction of La Scala in a few days; one more occasion for the conductor Riccardo Chailly to soak up the musicality of Puccini; and Livermore bis as director. The heterodox artist, who has been a set designer, actor or choreographer (in addition to being in charge of the artistic direction of the Palau de Les Arts), surprised last year with a review of Verdi in which there was room on the stage for horses, bayonets and video projections.
The result was theatrically spectacular and even acceptable to the most purists. This year he promises to behave better and only anticipates a dreamlike Castel Sant’Angelo in the final scene of the shooting. This is «Tosca», one of the most represented operas of all time, so the latter should not go through a «spoiler».
Already said the critic Fedele D’Amico, one of the greatest of the Italian lyric, that between “Salome or Electra, courage should be found so that one day or another Floria Tosca is named as the first on the list of the agriered women in history. Who knows if with the face of the beautiful Netrebko singing that of "in front of him the whole of Rome trembled" while stabbing the feared police chief.
Saioa Hernández goes from the leading role to escort Anna Netrebko in the Tosca cartel. Yours will be the last three replicas scheduled for the first days of January and a tour that La Scala will take to Japan. «As we know this opera so well, sometimes we interpret it somewhat superficially. But this occasion represents a way to deepen it, ”said the Madrid soprano at a press conference. After its historic debut in Milan last year, the pupil of Montserrat Caballe has settled in this theater. In addition to his role in «Tosca», this season he will perform in La Scala «A masquerade ball», «La Gioconda» and will participate in a gala of the 50th anniversary of Sunday's stage debut.
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