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YMMV / Tosca

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  • Adaptation Displacement: Puccini's opera has displaced the play (by Victorien Sardou) that it was based on.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • When Tosca appears in act 3 claiming that Cavaradossi's been pardoned, does he believe her or not?
    • The Sacristan can be portrayed as either a malicious and cowardly informer or a kindly if strict priest (in some productions he is visibly shielding the chorus boys so that Scarpia's anger would only fall on him). He can also be played as gluttonous and bumbling (Fernando Corena was famous for this interpretation).
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    • Even Scarpia can be a victim of this. Does he merely lust after Tosca or has some sincere feelings towards her? Some Scarpias play up the longing looks and touches, and appear genuinely hurt when Tosca says she wants to leave Rome forever. There was a very unconventional production at the Latvian National Opera where Scarpia was portrayed as Tosca's ex-husband, still in love with his estranged wife and trying to win her back at any cost. Believe it or not, it worked.
  • Awesome Music: the whole opera, especially the last ten minutes.
  • Complete Monster: Baron Vitellio Scarpia is the head of the police who relentlessly hunts down those deemed as "traitors" and subjects them to torture and execution. When he captures the painter Mario Cavaradossi, he decides to use the man as leverage to possess his sweetheart Floria Tosca. He has Mario brutally tortured, and convinces Mario that Tosca betrayed him to drive a wedge between the lovers. He then proceeds to offer Tosca Mario's safety if she sleeps with him, horrifying her. He promises to spare Mario if she does so, seemingly arranging a fake execution. However, even after Scarpia's death it is revealed he had no intention of honoring his word: the execution is real and Mario dies anyway. A venal hypocrite hiding behind his sanctimony, Scarpia glories in the fear he spreads over Rome and believes the best way to possess a woman is by force.
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  • Evil Is Sexy: Many portrayals of Scarpia.
  • Foe Yay: Happens sometimes between Tosca and Scarpia, especially if the latter is a tall, handsome Badass Baritone. In fact, Maria Callas, one of the most famous Toscas, talked about how her character is attracted to Scarpia despite herself. Franco Zeffirelli came to the same conclusion, as shown in his 1985 interview concerning the MET Tosca.
    • And there's the 1992 film (shot on the exact locations of the plot), famous for all the tension culminating in The Big Damn Kiss between the two.
  • Funny Moments:
    • Because Tosca mostly revolves around just three characters (Tosca, Cavaradossi, and Scarpia), it is one of Puccini's most frequently performed operas, and this has led to some entertainingly Troubled Productions. Several of the most famous examples are probably fictional, but funny nonetheless:
      • In one production, the stage crew put a trampoline behind the parapets over which Tosca jumps in the final scene so that the actress would not hurt herself when she landed. Unfortunately, the parapet wasn't very tall, so the audience were treated to the curious sight of Tosca jumping over the parapet and then re-appearing a moment later, and then disappearing and re-appearing several more times as the curtain fell.
      • In another production, the actors for the firing squad were hastily recruited from local university students, and the director had no time to rehearse them before the performance, so he told them to enter in formation, fire when signalled to do so, and exit with the principals. However, they weren't quite clear on which character was supposed to be shot, so when they pointed their guns at Cavaradossi and he looked uneasy, some of them thought "Well, the opera is called Tosca...", and soon they were all pointing their guns at Tosca. Misinterpreting her frantic gestures as appropriate for a condemned person about to be shot, when the signal came, they shot Tosca instead of Cavaradossi, and were understandably confused when Cavaradossi fell down dead. And then, when Tosca ran up to the parapets and jumped off, they remembered, "Exit with the principals." So as the curtain fell, the audience were bewildered to see the firing squad jumping over the parapets after Tosca, one by one...
      • In another production, a young and inexperienced assistant director put a real (and quite sharp) knife on Scarpia's dinner table. Noticing this, the baritone playing Scarpia politely asked for the knife to be removed. The assistant did this for the rehearsals but put the knife back for the opening night. The baritone, understandably worried for his good health, stealthily put the knife away while singing... and when the moment came, the soprano who played Tosca was left with no weapon to stab Scarpia with. The woman was quick-thinking, though, and grabbed a fork. And so, possibly for the first time in the opera history, the villain was stabbed with a fork (a blunt end of it).
      • In a performance in Italy in the 1990s, the guns did not go off properly for the execution. Cavaradossi had to fall down pretending to be shot anyway, leading to the following headline in next day's paper: ‘Cavaradossi dies of a heart attack‘.
      • At a Met production in 1999, soprano Eva Marton landed on the feather mattress after her suicide jump, just to have it explode around her. Luckily, nothing was seen by the audience, until she came out for her curtain call – covered in feathers from head to foot.
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    • Right after Cavaradossi is taken away to be imprisoned, Scarpia, after everything that's happened in Act Two thus far — torturing Cavaradossi, interrogating Tosca and forcing her to betray her lover and his friend — starts putting the moves on Tosca and offers her some wine. Tosca cuts through all his bullshit and demands "How much???" and when Scarpia 'innocently' (depending on the production) repeats her in surprise, she pushes to know how much it's going to cost to free her lover.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Scarpia again. He did outplan everyone and won, even after death. Not to mention all of his awesome music moments.
  • Moment of Awesome:
    • Even when he's being brutally tortured, Cavaradossi refuses to give up Angelotti's location.
    • Tosca giving Scarpia her 'kiss' and screaming at him to die as he drowns in his own blood.
    • Scarpia has an evil awesome moment in the Te Deum where he gets to do Evil Gloating talking about his Evil Plan, to some of the most drop-dead-gorgeous music in the whole thing.
  • What an Idiot!: This being an opera, logic sometimes slips away from the characters.
    • When Cavaradossi is brought before Scarpia for questioning, he repeatedly and loudly denies the accusations against him, sometimes not even giving the time to ask him any questions. Yes, that's definitely going to make yourself look innocent, Mario.
    • Cavaradossi hasn't said anything in the torture room but when he's brought back, he gets cocky after hearing news of Napoleon's victory and sings something like: "Down with the tyrants!" right into Scarpia's face. Nice job, Mario, now Scarpia has all evidence he needs to have you executed for treason!
    • Villains Never Lie. In the first act Scarpia shows Tosca the Marchesa's fan, and she immediately jumps to the conclusion that Cavaradossi's cheating on her. Of course, she's not yet aware of Scarpia's full intentions regarding her, but really, she trusts the feared police chief more than her lover! Especially strange since in most productions Scarpia is obviously drooling at the sight of her already, and still it doesn't occur to her for a moment he might be using her to set a trap.
      • Tosca is a very devout subject of the Pope who trusts the "respectable" chief of police. In the play, she snaps when Scarpia insinuates that the "freethinker" Cavaradossi might be "an atheist in matters of love" as well.
    • It's understandable that Tosca really doesn't want to sleep with Scarpia, but her stabbing him doesn't help the situation in the slightest. If Scarpia had kept his word and Cavaradossi was spared, how far do you want to bet they'd get before Tosca was hunted down for murder? Indeed, Scarpia's henchmen come to arrest her almost immediately after Cavaradossi is executed.
    • Scarpia also qualifies. Blackmail and rape are always solid motives for murder (a fact which Scarpia, the chief of police should be aware of), and he combines them in one neat package, painting a nice solid target on his own back. He might also have realized that if he does want to go through with his plan he should at least make sure there are no potential weapons around for Tosca to grab. Like sharp dinner knives.


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