Hidden from small

Note from "Tosca" Stage Director James Alexander

April 30, 2018

Wikipedia describes Puccini’s Tosca as an opera that “contains depictions of torture, murder, and suicide.” As an opera director and psychotherapist, I find it intriguing that humans largely seem to learn more about our condition, and indeed ourselves, from engaging with, or being fascinated by, tragedy (that which confronts our existential reality and profound emotions) than we do by comedy (that which offers escape from reality).

The slightly larger than life (dare I say it, operatic) characters in Tosca are all believable: the Diva herself, Tosca, a jealous young singer; Cavaradossi, the painter and political free-thinker; and Scarpia, Rome’s cruel, hypocritical, and licentious chief of police, who having failed to seduce the consul of Rome’s sister, the Marchesa Attavanti, makes similar plans for Tosca. Interestingly, all three protagonists mention eyes; in the West, eyes are culturally held to be windows to our souls, and I imagine that somehow our protagonists are disclosing their desires, beliefs, hopes, joys, and darkest thoughts when mentioning eyes.

The tragic death of our young lovers leaves us, like all bereavements, not only sad and angry for what has happened but also grieving the loss of potentiality; in this instance, them creating a family.

Our benefactress for this production, Jacqueline Desmarais, who sadly died recently, requested that this production be “traditional.” I believe we have honored that wish while adding a little 21st-century touch to the production (naturally with the blessing of our maestro). Our setting is minimal; costumes and props suggest period and locale. Our singing actors will paint with their gripping visceral performances everything required to immerse you in their tragedy.

In paying tribute to my “partners in crime,” Yannick and the Fabulous Philadelphians, I invite you to relish the immersive experience of this musical masterpiece where, unleashed from the confines of the opera house pit, you will experience this vivid score with such presence.