Opera Daily 🎶 — Franco Corelli in Parma
This week's Opera Daily features Franco Corelli singing “Vittoria! Vittoria!”, the tenor’s big moment in the second act of Puccini’s Tosca
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Today we’re listening to…
“Vittoria! Vittoria!” — the tenor’s big moment in the second act of Puccini’s Tosca. I can’t wait for you to hear the crowd go wild for this absolute legend.
Franco Corelli sent the audience in Parma into a frenzy.
🎧 Listening Example (3 minute listen): Franco Corelli (Mario Cavaradossi) singing “Vittoria! Vittoria!” from Puccini’s Tosca with Virginia Gordoni (Tosca), Teatro Regio di Parma, 1967
In this scene, Mario Cavaradossi has just discovered that Napoleon has won the Battle of Marengo. This is excellent news for Cavaradossi (and despite being tortured off stage); he comes on and goes for it with “Vittoria, Vittoria!” in celebration before being dragged off to be executed.
We are featuring tenor Franco Corelli singing this scene today (from the 1967 performance in Parma), but I am also sharing some other fantastic interpretations of the scene below.
As you will hear, it’s the same piece, but in many cases, sung so differently.
If you find yourself wanting more, listen to the ultimate Cavaradossi sing-off: a compilation of 12 tenors attempting this scene!
Tosca is the story of a soprano who’s in love with a painter named Cavaradossi in 19th-century Rome, a city ruled by Baron Scarpia (baritone). Scarpia (SCAR-pee-ah) arrests Cavaradossi and offers Tosca a trade — her sexual favors for her lover’s life — but Tosca manages to kill Scarpia before he can get what he wants from her.
This scene from Act 2 of Tosca is one of Cavaradossi's defining moments. It starts with a completely exposed high note held as long as possible. Just incredible.
The avenging dawn now rises to make the wicked tremble!
And liberty returns, the scourge of tyrants!
You see me now rejoice, in my own suffering…
And now your blood runs cold,
Puccini’s music is always moving; his signature was his stories about ordinary people. A master of detail and a perfectionist, Puccini wanted to incorporate as much authentic local color into Tosca’s score as he could.
To research for Act 3, in which church bells are heard at dawn, he visited Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo (the prison in which, in the story, Cavaradossi is held before his execution), to measure the exact sound of the bells there. He then had bells cast to order and included detail in the score about where these bells should be played backstage (some near, some further away), to create the desired effect. When Tosca is performed in the theater, this can involve 11 different bells played by five percussionists and two offstage conductors!
Want more Tosca? Here’s Ten Things You (Maybe?) Didn't Know about Tosca.
Thank you for reading (and listening), and feel free to hit reply with feedback. I would love to hear from you.
Stay tuned for next week for a post on Dame Janet Baker.
PS. If you missed last week’s selection, we featured the building of the Sydney Opera House and “Parigi, o cara” from Verdi’s La traviata.
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