In Tosca's Rome, Susan Vandiver Nicassio explores the surprising historical realities that lie behind Giacomo Puccini's immortal opera, Tosca-a timeless tale of love, lust, and politics. For this paperback edition, Nicassio has added an appendix analyzing recently discovered working papers for the libretto.
Nicassio's critical look at Puccini's Tosca (one of the most popular and "historical" operas ever written) arrives just in time for its January 2000 centennial. An academic historian who has actually performed the role of Tosca, Nicassio is perfectly suited to deal with the opera's political and musical complexities. She divides her study into three large sections. In the first, she reviews Roman life in the late 18th and 19th centuries, paying considerable attention to how Puccini's own prejudices shaped his story and how Sardou (the French playwright) reinterpreted the historical realities that the opera treats. In the second section, she looks at how Rome circa 1800 was viewed through the eyes of a painter, a singer, and a policeman (the occupations of the opera's three main characters). This section, and the next--a scene-by-scene analysis of the opera--are continually revelatory and illuminating. A valuable appendix very clearly shows the parallels (and discrepancies) between the play and the opera. Nicassio's prose, though intensely scholarly, is lively and approachable. There is plenty here to intrigue everyone--seasoned opera lovers, musical novices, history buffs, and Italophiles. Highly recommended for all collections.--Larry A. Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.