Five Films That Share Themes with Giacomo Puccini's 'Tosca'
Published Jan 15, 2018Promotional consideration provided by Cineplex.
Giacomo Puccini, often considered the greatest Italian opera composer after Verdi, crafted one of his most timeless works with his three-act masterpiece Tosca. Based on Victorien Sardou's 1887 play La Tosca, Puccini's Tosca debuted in 1900 and continues to inspire audiences around the world.
The rich, dense plot follows Tosca — a decidedly strong, powerful woman who is in love with the painter Cavaradossi. He's arrested after hiding a political prisoner, so Tosca offers herself to police chief Scarpia to try and save her lover from execution. Things don't exactly work out, and she winds up stabbing Scarpia to death before taking her own life.
It's a complex and scandalous piece set against a backdrop of religion and war, making it an entirely timeless piece. You'll soon get to enjoy it live, as select Cineplex theatres are set to broadcast the Met Opera's performance of Tosca on January 27.
Before it hits theatres, here are five films that share themes with the film.
Jean-Jacques Beineix's 1981 film Diva was not a major hit when it first emerged, but it's since become a cult classic and a prime example of the cinéma du look style. Further, it shares multiple themes with Tosca. Cynthia Hawkins is an opera diva whose beautiful voice has never been recorded. Her singing is eventually bootlegged, and the tape becomes central to a battle with a corrupt police department.
In Robert M. Young's 1986 adaptation of a 1982 off-Broadway play, Farrah Fawcett stars as Marjorie. In the beginning of the film, she's attacked by a masked assailant who sexually assaults her. Pushed to titular extremities, Marjorie takes on her attacker and ultimately wins.
Jennifer Lopez might play a waitress in Enough, but her diva star power certainly shines through in the role. Michael Apted's film sees J-Lo get pushed to the brink by an abusive man and, well, when she finally has had enough she takes matters into her own hands. She becomes a powerful woman that takes on her attacker, just like Tosca.
Les Misérables (2012)
Outside of Tosca's volatile relationship with her attacker, it's also important to note the rich historical backdrop established in the opera, which is set during Napoleon's invasion of Italy in 1800. Though it's set in an entirely different time and place, a similar melodramatic scope is achieved in Tom Hooper's 2012 film adaptation of the hit musical Les Misérables. You'll find yourself engrossed in both the characters' personal arcs and the rich socio-political landscape.
That all said, Tosca is a one-of-a-kind opera that can't quite be simplified into a traditional film format. As such, a great place to start would be with Benoît Jacquot's 2001 operatic film. The piece is a hybrid of art-house filmmaking and live singing, blending visual metaphors with raw performance. The result is a perfect primer on the project that will surely have you prepared for the Met Opera's live performance.