Context


Tosca is based on the play, La Tosca, by the French playwright, Victorien Sardou, which Puccini felt was a perfect choice to adapt into an opera. Puccini saw the play a handful of times in Milan and Turin, and began negotiations with Sardou and his agents, but Sardou wanted a French composer to adapt the play. Through some further negotiations with Ricordi (the head of the publishing company), Sardou agreed to give the rights to Puccini. Luigi Illica was chosen as librettist, who originally attempted to dissuade Puccini from the project, stating that it was not suitable for a musical setting. Sardou made the mistake of saying that he did not like Puccini’s work and was not sure that he made the right decision, leading Puccini to abandon the project, outraged. Illica still worked on the libretto with a new composer but, ultimately, the new composer gave back the assignment to Puccini. Finally, the piece laid in the hands of Puccini and Illica with Sardou’s approval. The opera is based on real events and very political. At the time in which the play is set, Italy was divided into small states with the Pope ruling from Rome. After the French Revolution, Napoleon invaded Italy and established a republic ruled by seven Consuls. In 1800, there were a series of battles resulting in the French domination of Rome for another fourteen years.

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