John Deaderick: She lived for art; she lived for love |

John Deaderick: She lived for art; she lived for love

John Deaderick
Special to Prospector
Puccini’s "Tosca" premired in Rome in 1900, and is set in the Napoleonic wars during the 1800s.
Submitted photo to Prospector |


WHO: The Del Oro Theatre

WHAT: The Metropolitan Opera, LIVE in HD — “Tosca”

WHEN: 9:55 a.m. Saturday

WHERE: The Del Oro Theatre, 165 Mill St., Grass Valley

TICKETS: $22 Adults, $20 Seniors, $18 Children 12 and under & students with ID; Available online at or at the Del Oro Box Office

INFO: Visit, or call 530-477-1100 for more information

This Saturday Sierra Theaters presents Puccini’s “Tosca” as the next offering of the new season of The Met Opera Live in HD at the Del Oro Theatre in Grass Valley.

“Tosca” represents a near perfect union of music and drama. The opera has famously had its detractors: critic Joseph Kernan dubbed it that “shabby little shocker”; George Bernard Shaw — he who only had a taste for Wagner — hated it.

But “Tosca” is neither shabby, nor little, nor a shocker. Life, death, love, injustice: this is the stuff of opera, and “Tosca” has all that and more.

The score expertly matches the text, and the work contains two of the finest arias ever penned, “Vissi d’arte” and “E lucevan le stelle.”

Premiering in Rome in 1900, this most Italian of operas, represents a supreme example of the verismo (realism) style. Set in 1800 during the Napoleonic wars, the political context pits the forces of republicanism against those of absolute monarchy.

The French forces here represent freedom and democracy; of course, this is just before Napoleon crowns himself Emperor.

The heroine, Floria Tosca, loves the political “radical” Cavaradossi.

Tosca is pursued by the villainous spy-master Scarpia. In an absolutely chilling scene, Scarpia, in church, sings of his plans to, well, “possess” her.

His aria, “Va Tosca!” (Go Tosca!), is sung in counterpoint to a grand religious procession, a Te Deum. The storm rages, the choir sings, Scarpia reaches a crescendo of lust and shouts, “Tosca, you make me forget God!” Stunning.

Blackmailed, Tosca has to give herself to save her lover from execution. Her lament is a masterpiece: nearly every notable soprano has recorded, “Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore” (I lived for art, I lived for love).

Cavaradossi’s elegiac confrontation with the dawn his final day, “E lucevan le stella” (and the stars shone), tests every tenor who attempts it.

This terse and theatrically effective melodrama can be richly rewarding.

This new production has drawn rave reviews from the New York press and features Sonya Yonchveva and Vittorio Grigolo as the lovers and Zeljko Lucic as Scarpia.

“Go, Tosca!”

John Deaderick is a local theater artist and the author of Make Sweet the Minds of Men: Early Opera and Tragic Catharsis, available at

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