Opera Scotland

Tosca libretto cover

Tosca in Scotland

Posted 5 May 2012

Tosca was given its first Scottish performance at Glasgow's Theatre Royal on 26 February 1910 by the Moody-Manners company. It featured Fanny Moody herself in the title role and the Irish tenor Joseph O'Mara as Cavaradossi, with their leading baritone William Dever as Scarpia. The conductor was Richard Eckhold, a veteran who had played in orchestras directed by Wagner himself. 

Tosca was performed occasionally over the next forty years. While Puccini's La Boheme (first presented as 'The Bohemians') made an instant impact from its first Scottish performance, it seems that Tosca only became popular after the war. Alexander Gibson conducted Tosca on the first visit of the Sadler's Wells company in 1957, shortly after his Covent Garden debut with the same work. Victoria Elliott was the Tosca on a tour including Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. The Wells brought a new production north in 1961, featuring two familiar names, Charles Craig and Peter Glossop, as Cavaradossi and Scarpia.  Tosca unlike other Puccini operas has never been performed at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Scottish Opera's Anthony Besch production, launched in 1980, has been seen over the years dozens of times with different singers in the cast, including Peter Glossop.  There was also in 1985 a piano-accompanied Tosca tour of the Highlands which featured a young Anthony Michaels-Moore as Scarpia.

More recent stagings in Scotland include English Touring Opera's visit to Perth in 2006, presented against a simple black box setting, but very effective for drama in a small theatre.  Visits by Ellen Kent's Moldovan company have featured Tosca regularly.  During their performances of Tosca in 2002, Cavaradossi was sung by the company's veteran head,  Petre Munteanu, over half a century since his Scottish debut at the Edinburgh International Festival with Glyndebourne as Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte - surely a record.

One curiosity - in all the performances over the last century reviewed by Opera Scotland's archivist, not a single Italian soprano has appeared as Tosca.  Scottish Opera's exponents - Marina Krilovici, Nelly Miricioiu, Nina Rautio, and all the rest - have come from Eastern Europe, Russia, Canada and England - no Scots and no Italians.  Further, we have found only one Italian tenor and one Italian baritone!

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