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March 1, 2023

Aiax Spettacoli. Teatro Antico di Taormina.
Angelo Puglisi e Daniele Lombardo

Giacomo Puccini's most epic and controversial work returns to the Ancient Theater of Taormina on August 19, 2023. Tickets are on sale on Ticketone from March 2, 2023. An original Aiax production.

August 19, 2023



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Expert commentary

The stars of the opera return to Taormina, with Hui He absolute protagonist in the role of Tosca. At the Ancient Theater the drama of the unfortunate Roman singer will still live. Remembering Puccini's melodrama it is impossible not to delve into the character: everything fades into the background in His presence, knowing well "the art of making oneself loved", experiencing the love impulse to such an extent as to have no qualms about raising the tone even at the Church of Sant'Andrea della Valle, tones blinded by jealousy against his beloved Mario, a "distracted" painter who, unaware, depicts Attavanti in the role of the Magdalene, painting an eye that is not his

From the desire to give one's eyes to a Saint, the primogenial author Victoire Sardou, of Tosca then shows her gaze, now the pitiful gaze of one who asks the old Baron Scarpia (baritone) for a favor, now that of one who has no scruples in inflicting the fatal blow with a cutlass, however feeling the need  to place a crucifix taken from inside the study on the corpse, thus showing you his mercy. Floria, with the dead man on the ground, places two candelabra on it and then pauses to admire a painting, later saying of the murdered man: "All of Rome trembled in front of him" (and this time also all of Taormina), showing a savoir-faire upsetting where, however, even the most powerful man  is always fragile in the face of earthly existence. During the opera he will always have something to say, even before letting himself fall,  into the void,  launching himself from the walls of Castel Sant'Angelo, played this time by a of the most fascinating actors in history: the Ancient Theater of Taormina. Even in this situation  will not make the opportunity to launch the last challenge in vain, so with the famous phrase expressed in a broken voice he will say: "Scarpia, davanti a Dio".

Graziano D'Urso è Angelotti. Tosca al Teatro antico 2018, associazione Aldebaran.

Therefore the strong-willed subject that of the protagonist, broad, with a psychological framework that leaves no empty spaces but rather expands on the scene, relegating the other characters almost to a corollary, despite the many profound truths that are hidden behind each one.The theme is more topical than ever, being the woman and her objectification the driving force of the story. Scarpia, in fact, does not have any deep feelings, rather he expresses mere sexual morbidity towards Floria. This one, who should experience the conflict with his office of police chief, as well as ethical, is in truth willing to do anything so much as to accept  for a single sexual encounter the compromise of reserving for her and her loved a safe conduct for Civita Vecchia, so he will sing “Se la giurata fede debbo tradir, 
ne voglio altra mercede. 
Quest'ora io l'attendeva!”, and again “Già mi struggea l'amor della diva! Ma poc'anzi ti mirai qual non ti vidi mai!”, designating the fascination gravitated by her as a celebrity. The figure of Baron Scarpia is introduced with high simplicitate, entrusting the description of this apparently innocuous setting, then violent and narrow, to the musical language alone, therefore strings and woodwinds which then dramatically ascend to a climax  reso da a full brass in moments of high dramatic tension. Claudio Sartori will tell: “The skill of the musician, his most successful experiment in this work, which is all a difficult exercise, lies in making us endure a drama of the most grisly brutality, without at the moment feeling any annoyance because everything is overcome and conducted with an apparently iron-clad logic as to allow no doubt whatsoever, while the character Tosca transforms her grossly theatrical substance into a musical portrait of the most exquisite finesse". 

Cesare Cosentino è lo sbirro al Teatro Antico di Taormina. Aldebaran - 2018

Certainly it was not easy for Giacosa to bring Victorien Sardou's drama into an opera libretto, Mosco Carner was of the same opinion, who had to say: <<Cavaradossi, as Giacosa reproaches, is none other than "il Signor Tenore", but it can't be anything else in the presence of her who, like a virago, sucks what little blood she had in her body. If he is permitted to sing two splendid romances, it is only to give rest for a moment to that thunderstorm of a woman or to permit her an entrance of great effect>>. So this is La Tosca, a meager drama, full of action where Puccini feels he is indulging his own compositional desire, sometimes placing digressions and highlights on marginal details to the functioning of the drama, see for example the moment in which Angelotti escapes, the search of the key, the basket of food, many leitmotifs woven into a firm, well-connected melodic mesh, with an optimal use of the organological performances of the orchestra, where the mastery in the use of the cellos emerges, the spearheads characterizing this work . Contrary to what Mahler  asserted, in a harsh criticism contained in a letter addressed to his wife,  la Tosca cannot be summed up in bells and whistles,  it is not even mere musical realism,  rather as Siciliano wrote in the wake of what Verney della Valletta asserted <<This “manner” is the essential quality of the opera, its stylistic fabric, what makes it a text that is not at all realistic and which reveals, beneath Sardou's grand-guignol, the desperate love for life that Puccini, increasingly drowned in his sad idleness, suffered>> . As mentioned above, the subjects external to the character Tosca do not have an introspective focus such as to bring us back to a musical realism or naturalism, rather the spectator is fully enraptured by the main character being influenced by him to such an extent as not to doubt  not even for a moment on which side to be.

Fucilazione di Cavaradossi al Teatro Antico di Taormina. Tosca 2018 - associazione aldebaran. Daniele Lombardo, Salvo Danilo Lombardo, Federico Di Gaetano, Melo Catania, Giuseppe Cannizzaro.

 In this work, abuse is classified as such and all means, almost in a Machiavellian way, are justified to get rid of it. The texture of the entire work does not emerge as a theme but rather linked to motifs that do not find consistent developments but to which timbric-harmonic variations are applied, thus also departing from the Wagnerian style. The musical lexicon is at times simple, even if of great effect, look for example at the Te Deum where the tercet ringing of bells opens the scene and gives the idea of a return to ecclesiastical life free from the fear represented by Napoleon Bonaparte, who he now believes he has been defeated, therefore the thought of Scarpia is woven over it which dominates and renders his alienation, his fixed thought eager to possess Tosca, until the orchestra performs his motif in enlarging and on the penultimate bar crowned, as desired by the Maestro, the curtain falls. The synaesthetic-musical cohesion  ci is given for example by the succession of A over which Scarpia sings descending towards the D, a note which takes the form of the fundamental note of the D minor chord where Tosca feels she has reached to a dead end and no way out confesses. The modernity of this work, where chromatic concatenations and shifts have made the "manner" of Tosca,  also by René Leibowitz who compared this work to those composed by authors such as Claude Debussy, even finding a similarity between Scarpia's theme and certain cadenzas taken from the Kammersymphonie Op. 9 composed in 1906 by Shömberg, the very famous first representative of twelve-tone music. For the considerations set out therein, it can therefore be affirmed that Tosca is a point of arrival of Italian opera, a virtuous and resilient example of an opera that overcomes the different lights projected by the change of customs and society, changes of aesthetic taste thrown by time which, if so many works have made it practically no longer intelligible in a current key, in truth make Tosca timeless. One hundred twenty-three years ago the first one, years seem like days. See you in Taormina for the opera.

Prof. Daniele Abate

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locandina Tosca. 19 Agosto 2023. Aiax Opera. Teatro Antico di Taormina
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