L’opera: Tosca

Tristana, a beloved former professor of mine, asked me if I would like to accompany her current Italian class to the opera, and never being one to turn down a chance to see opera, I immediately agreed. This time, we went to see Tosca, an opera about a woman named Tosca who, through her own fortitude, must try and save the man she loves while dealing with a predatory man.

The drama. The betrayal. The romance. I was all in. 

I was struck by the opera’s humor in the beginning, but how it could still never have a happy ending where they run into each other’s arms and run off together. Or better yet, an ending where they go their separate ways and nothing changes at all and everybody lives, because this is opera. 

There is a man and a woman who are, to put it mildly, in a tricky situation. The man gets arrested for helping out a friend who is a criminal. The authorities want answers but Tosca won’t give them any until they torture her boyfriend. They then want to put the man to death when they get the answers, unless Tosca sleeps with the man in charge. She kills him instead. In the end, they’re about to run off together and be happy, having gotten away with everything, but then he gets shot by a firing squad and she pitches herself off a building in despair. 

Then the curtain falls. 

It’s hard to relate to them obsessing over one another in a way that makes Romeo and Juliet look like commitment phobes, but I love the intensity of the emotions, being a woman with some very big emotions myself. It’s not just entertaining, but also gratifying to watch them pour their hearts out, and the way that they would fling themselves into graves if they thought that it would alleviate their heartache. I like the way they think. 

I was seated early enough to watch the crew walk the stage, which did nothing but build my anticipation. I wore my purple dress for the occasion, this time without the angel wings. I thought that it was the most perfectly dramatic outfit for a Puccini Opera with a famous premise and even more famous ending. 

There’s something satisfying about finally knowing what everybody’s talking about. I now know what everybody means when they talk about the genius of Puccini’s work. 

This time as I sat and watched I really got a sense of the richness of the language. My knowledge of Italian has grown considerably because I was able to understand more of what was being sung as they belted it out. In that moment, I truly immersed myself in the language and the culture. The good news is that I’ll soon have the chance for even more immersion. For this upcoming Fall semester, I have been accepted to study abroad in Florence, Italy. 

Of course, I never turn down a chance to come here

I will be on an adventure, livening up my senior year as I perfect my Italian. I am looking forward to being in Florence, a visual feast that will be able to satisfy even my insatiable love for great art. My friends have already promised to visit. There has been some big talk from my brother about an Italian Thanksgiving. One way or another, I am going to make the most out of my upcoming study abroad in Florence, having almost as dramatic a time in Italy as Tosca.

The Tragic Queen,


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