Light Reading

Joseph Brent
Opera on Film
Dr. Link
Term Paper – Tosca

Character Study of Puccini’s Mario Cavaradossi

The aim of this essay is to present the research and analysis on the character Mario Cavaradossi in Giacomo Puccini’s opera Tosca. This essay represents the footwork in preparation for the singing-actor approaching this tenor role. Dramatic and musical considerations are the primary concern, but the opera’s reception is inextricably attached to its characters and therefore included throughout the essay. Additionally, the essay would be flawed if detailed attention was not given to the Mario Cavaradossi of Victorien Sardou’s La Tosca, the play on which Tosca is based. As Tosca is one of the first operas of twentieth century, the voices of those tenors who originated the role are persevered and available for consideration. Therefore there will be a brief critique of the first Mario Cavaradossis.
The earliest forerunner of the libretto for Tosca was a translation and reworking of Victorien Sardou’s La Tosca by Luigi Illica for the Ricordi publishing company. Both Ricordi and Illica originally had the composer Alberto Franchetti in mind1. However with the success of La Boheme a third level of separation developed with the addition of Giuseppe Giacosa’s rewording and versification of Illica’s libretto for Puccini. Finally Puccini included his own epistolary stamp on the text and plot2. Despite the several degrees of separation between the play La Tosca, and Puccini’s verismo opera there is a recapitulatory return in the final product. Puccini worked extensively with the seventy-year-old Sardou who said that the opera was an improvement on his play3. Despite the operatic adaptation that necessarily truncates the play, the important and dramatic elements are maintained. After Illica, Giacosa and Puccini’s pruning the audience is left with the elemental characters, the Tosca trichotomy: Floria Tosca, Barron Scarpia and the primary subject of the essay Mario Cavaradossi.  
The characters that constitute the Tosca trichotomy are fictional. Sardou mixes historically accurate (and inaccurate) detail with his dramatic fiction in La Tosca, which subsequently translates into the opera Tosca. The play was set during the period just after Napoleon assumed First Consul in France, specifically on the day of the Battle of Marengo, June 14, 1800.  The political atmosphere in Rome circa 1800 was turbulent. This period was known as the “sede vacante4 or vacant seat, meaning there was no one at the throne of the papacy. Rome was controlled or “pursued” by the Austrians, Neapolitans, English and Russians until the eventual reestablishment of the papal authority5. In the absence of a ruling authority and with Napoleon’s success in the north and the French Revolution coming to a climax the ancient city was in a state of unrest “where no hand clearly holds the reigns.”6
Sardou blatantly exposes the hostility rampant in the political chaos of Rome. Early in the drama the Sacristan aptly accuses Cavaradossi of being a Jacobin, Republican sympathizer; this form of vilification makes clear the relation between politics and religion. In Cavaradossi’s own words, explaining to the fleeing Angelotti, describes himself in terms of the Roman vogue “You know in Rome, as in Naples, anyone who doesn’t wear a powdered wig, knee breeches or buckled shoes, anyone who dresses and has his hair cut short in the French style is looked at with jaundice eye. Hair won in the manner of Titus makes me out as an extreme liberal, having a beard shows I’m a free thinker, and wearing these top boots brands me as a revolutionist. Had I not figured out a subterfuge, I would already have had a run-in with Scarpia.”7 In Sardou’s historical drama Mario Cavaradossi’s political, philosophical, romantic and religious practices are woven deeply into the fabric of the drama.
The drama is in a constant spiraling domino effect where every element superficially – not superfluously – impacts the next, following the Nineteenth century French pièce bien faite “well-made play”8 format. As with the reception, a brief summary of the action and setting is necessary to understand the character’s plight. Mario Cavaradossi is in Rome; it is June of 1800, painting a portrait of Mary Magdalen at the Church of St. Andrea Della Valle to be near to his girlfriend, the famed diva Floria Tosca. Angelotti is an escaped prisoner. He stumbles into Mario, who, feeling a swell of rebellious fervor and compassion, vows to help him at all costs. Leaving behind a woman’s fan, which was an accessory to Angelotti’s disguise, the scheming Scarpia uses it to provoke Tosca’s teeming jealously. Cavaradossi is captured and brought into the Farnese Palace to be interrogated and ultimately tried as a conspirator harboring a prisoner. Exploiting Tosca’s relationship with Cavaradossi Scarpia tortures him to extract the whereabouts of Angelotti, as well as to feed his sadistic appetite. Tosca confesses in order to save Cavaradossi’s life, but in the heat of anti-republican rage Scarpia orders him to be shot. As Cavaradossi is lead to the prison off stage Tosca and Scarpia quarrel. Tosca eventually murders Scarpia, as a final attempt to save Cavaradossi and end Scarpia’s tyranny. In the final act Cavaradossi is executed by the firing squad and Tosca jumps from the parapet of the Castel Sant’Angelo.
Every dramatist personae and libretto acknowledges Mario Cavaradossi the painter. Cavaradossi is a painter by profession; it is a necessary - if not obvious - character trait and plot tool. It explains his business in the Church of St. Andrea Della Valle, underpins his cavatina Recondita Armonia, sets him up to receive Angelotti and provides for Tosca’s exposition. The singing-actor must go farther than the beautiful melodies and the obvious. If classic terms could be applied to verismo opera, Cavaradossi would be the hero. He would also be seen as the dramatic conduit; the opera takes place in his world. From the tenor’s perspective Mario Cavaradossi might have been a more suitable eponym for Sardou’s play and subsequently for Puccini’s opera. Cavaradossi’s true raison d’être in the drama - which can bee seen as the opera’s raison d’être - is the political, philosophical and social atmosphere, mentioned above, of Rome 1800.  Susan Vandiver Nicassio provides the actor approaching Cavaradossi with a detailed, concise characterization “…image of the ‘artist as revolutionary martyr’ and the corresponding idea of the inequities of the clerical government… This complex of ideas formed much of the basis for the character Mario Cavaradossi, radical artist and hero… he embodies the Gallic irony and charm, the well-bred cultural superiority and the progressive right-mindedness that Sardou admired...”9
Contrastingly the opera may seem to be a superficial vehicle for great melodies and orchestration by Puccini as La Tosca was a vehicle for the actress Sarah Bernhardt,10 another reason why the title is taken from the heroine’s name. In fact the librettist Giacosa would argue that Cavaradossi is indeed a vehicle for the tenor “… it seems that for [Ricordi] and Puccini Cavaradossi should be nothing more than a ‘signore tenore,’” (Giacosa to Ricordi September 1898).11 Still, one hundred years later, Susan Vandiver Nicassio writes “Almost all of this characterization disappeared when Puccini, who had little sympathy with and less interest in revolutionary politics, translated the play into the opera.”12 However, from the singing actor’s perspective the elements of Sardou’s Cavaradossi must be considered in order to create a character of substance and depth. 

Critics accuse Puccini of not realizing the full potential of the drama:
“Throughout the opera he [Puccini] plays down the political aspects of the plot, being interested only in the personal relationships of the characters.”13

Too often it is hard to escape the sense that Puccini's most powerful musical outbursts -- the swellings of intense emotion that tenors and sopranos mine for the recital hall -- are dramatically unearned. This is the soundest reason critical resistance to Puccini has lingered.”14

The majority of the critical response to the opera was unanimously damning. The diatribes and malcontent that permeate the reception history, contemporaneous to and in years since the opera’s premiere, present a challenge to the interpreter. How does one approach an opera and specifically a character found to be so utterly two-dimensional? But these critiques do not explain the opera’s popularity. It has been a reparatory piece since its premiere and its arias celebrated by tenors and sopranos for the last century. In his review of Julian Budden’s Puccini: His Life and Works, Gary Tomlinson reproaches the critical response with “… musicologists have continued to resist [Puccini]. There are several reasons for this. Foremost, probably, is a discomfort academics tend to feel in the presence of a plangent sentimentality like Puccini's. It is high time to set this aside in a field that devotes itself more and more to the basic emotional impact of musical repertories of all sorts. Even if Puccini were a composer of tenor showstoppers and soprano weepies and nothing more -- he is not -- it would be worthwhile to understand the sources of their power.”15 Unfortunately this search to understand Puccini’s “power,” or rather the power of the, what he later calls “showstoppers,” also presents the interpreter with a difficulty. How does one approach standard repertoire and familiar repertoire in order to make the most successful music and drama?
Having absorbed the Mario Cavaradossi of Sardou’s drama the singing-actor can use the character’s atheist, republican philosophies to create his perspective. It is the mission of the singer to “understand the sources of their power.” In spite of Susan Vandiver Nicassio critique “pointless since we are dealing with projections backward from a century earlier.”16 Here an analysis of Cavaradossi’s music in the context of the opera becomes a prime focus for character development.
According to the Fach system Mario Cavaradossi is aptly performed by “jugendlicher heldentenor,” similar to the “spinto tenor.” The Fach System according to UGA IPA Source goes on to explain: the voice demanded is one which has great metal and ring, a secure top and a considerable amount of staying power… The color of the voice is likely to be more slanted toward the German metallic singing than the Italian sound of the heavy spinto tenor.”17 The modern audience and singing-actor is lucky to have recordings of the first tenors to sing the role, singers that Puccini handpicked. According to Puccini singers like Emilio Di Marchi (the first Cavaradossi), Giuseppe Borgatti (the second) and Fernando de Lucia (the third “Puccini’s first choice for Rodlfo in Boheme18 were the type of tenor voices to be singing Mario Cavaradossi. The sound-bites and extracted arias recorded by these singers do not provide enough information for the researcher. In order to present a sympathetic character the singing-actor must take a perspective on the role. A look into what makes this role suitable for or definable as “youthful heroic tenor,” ought to be represented in the music. 
The opera is framed by Cavaradossi’s two arias and ariettas, which – as mentioned above - have become standard repertoire for the operatic tenor. The role itself spans a range from b¢ down to e, however both arias tend to stay in a high tessitura. Carner writes, “both arias arise directly from the situation, and both express Cavaradossi’s love for Tosca.”19 The opera’s “bookend” arias are the cavatina: Recondita Armonia and the aria E lucevan le Stelle, which Carner calls the farewell aria.  Besides these bookend arias Cavaradossi’s music not only punctuates the second act, it dramatically alters the course of the opera. 
Several authors feel it prudent to point out that the musical setting of Recondita Armonia “shows no ‘recondite’ harmony…”20 In analysis of the music I would argue that the text is set with rhetorical sophistication. The Italian adjective recondita is the feminine form of recondito which Garzanti Linguistica explains has it root Dal lat. recondi°tu(m), part. pass. di reconde°re 'custodire, nascondere'” (from the Latin reconditum, past participle of the verb recondere to keep as in to guard or preserve/take care of, to hide/conceal). The first Italian definition given by Garzanti is “lontano” which translates into “far/far-off/distant;” the adjective recondito is translated as “hidden, concealed” but more importantly “(profondo) [deep] innermost, inmost.”21 Armonia is translated to harmony; therefore, in the context from which the title is derived, the opening line of poetry Recondita armonia di belleze diverse! becomes Innermost harmony of two different beauties.  Where “mysterious” is the popular translation, used by both Ricordi and The Metropolitan Opera; reading “innermost” might make for a more effective rhetorical analysis and a more potent realization of the poetry. Moreover, in the recapitulatory section m. 276 Giacosa writes L’arte nel suo mistero le diverse bellezze insiem confonde - In art’s mystery the different beauties mix together (or together confuse) – at this moment he clearly means mysterious and the two words, recondite and mysterious, are put in sharp relief of one another.
The aria maintains a clear F major landscape, with only a single altered scale tone during the tenor’s singing: B-flat becomes a passing B natural in two adjacent measures (Ex. 1). The lack of “accidentals,” rather pitch alteration emphasizes the nearly modal setting of the aria. Additionally the pedal point, quartal/quintal (pentatonic) motives in the winds, and recitation tones add a layer of antiquated sacredness. (Ex. 2) The “innermost harmony of different beauties” can be applied to the juxtaposition of Cavaradossi’s atheism in the church St. Andrea Della Valle, seen in the contrasting section within each strophe: the static recitation-like setting of the first two lines contrasted by the desultory leaping of the remaining strophe. Or as Nicassio believes “Faith and Art are two rival systems for finding meaning in life…”22
            Example 1: Act I, mm. 272 -273.

Example 2: Act I, mm. 245 -257
The formal structure of the aria, however, does support a reading of recondita as concealed, where the combination of two contrasting compositional techniques is at hand. Puccini combines the normative value of theme construction within a structure that echoes the Fibonacci series thereby emphasizing the golden ratio.  The introduction, which functions more as a ritornello, is thirteen measures long (ex. 2), the seventh number of the Fibonacci sequence.  It is followed by two eight-measure phrases, each with an additional measure that prepares an anacrusis (ex. 3a; 3b). Neither sixteen nor eighteen are a part of the Fibonacci series, but it is at this point in which Puccini brings back the opening material.
Example 3a: Act I, mm. 258 – 267.


Example 3b: Act I, mm. 267 - 274



The five-measure return of the opening music represents the ritornello and begins a kind of recapitulation (ex. 4); five is the fifth number of the Fibonacci sequence. The ritornello is followed by an eight-measure phrase leading to the climactic conclusion of the aria (ex. 5); eight is the sixth number in the Fibonacci sequence. 
            Example 4: Act I, mm. 275 – 279


            Example 5: Act I, mm.


Putting all of these structural elements together the aria can be seen as a sixteen-measure contrasting (double) period framed by a thirteen-measure ritornello and a thirteen-measure recapitulation. The golden ratio exists at the moment between the sixteen-measure period and the recapitulation where approximately 61.8% of the aria is complete. The concealed or esoteric “harmony” that Puccini is combing is the beauty of Italianate repetition structures and lyricism and centuries old belief on proportion aesthetics.
Taking Recondita Armonia for its poetry alone and not the setting it is clear that the aria compares the image of the Marchesa Attavanti (Mary Magdalen) and Tosca. Cavaradossi equates and differentiates their traits overtly and in this sense the music is just a tuneful setting of a love song.  Ultimately Cavaradossi says that though their beauties are blended in his art, his only thought is of Tosca. What makes this aria a “show stopper,” is not its “winning simplicity of an Italian folk song,”23 but the dramatic and exciting moment that every audience member awaits: the final B flat. M. 286. The B flat is underscored by an orchestra indicated to play allargando col canto (“spreading, with the singer”) (ex. 5). Allargando is “an instruction to slow down the tempo and often to develop a fuller and more majestic performing style.”24 Here Puccini creates a moment of rhythmic freedom and vocal virtuosity for tenors, who invariably sustain the Bb and F of “Tosca” and “tu,” rhythmically disproportionate to the surrounding words and rhythms. In attempts to maintain the association of musical elements to a possible dramatic reading, this could be seen as the climax of Cavaradossi’s atheistic, anti-clerical musings. 
In their respective books on Tosca, Mosco Carner and John Bell Young identify Puccini’s carefully designed, dramatic exploitation of the tenor range. Both authors emphasized Puccini’s use of the b-flat¢: “…the fact that high B flat is the highest note which a tenor can be relied upon to sing with security while still sounding in love, as opposed to pain or patriotic fervour…”25 and “ …as well as to allow the tenor a high B flat, just as he does in ‘ Recondita Armonia’ which is in F major, this high note being secure with most tenors…”26 However neither of the authors take note of the b¢ ten measures after rehearsal number 46 (ex. 6).
Example 6: Act I, mm. 775 - 777

Puccini has the orchestra recall the “Scarpia Theme,” in diminution that acts as a musical catapult for Cavaradossi’s crescendoing exclamation: “La vita mi costasse vi salverò” (or the optional “Ne andasse della vita, vi salverò.”27 The musical analysis of this clause does not adequately express the excitement implicit in the gesture. The passage is an a cappella arpeggiation of a second inversion E-major triad, marked with a crescendo and an indication deciso, con energia. It is an exposed and exhilarating expression of Cavaradossi’s belief in the “fraternité” of the French revolution. It is also one of the few moments in Cavaradossi’s music that acknowledges his complex origins in the Sardou drama. In the third act Puccini writes yet another b¢, one measure before rehearsal number twenty-nine (ex. 7). The authors Carner and Young also leave out of their discussion the b¢ sung in unison (octaves) with Tosca, in the third act. Tosca and Cavaradossi sing “Armonie di canti! diffonderem…” both the melody and accompanying harmonies in the orchestra are conventional. On the surface it would seem that the exhilaration of this passage is purely a reaction to the tessitura. 

Example 7: Act III, mm. 392 – 393.
Carner offers a thoughtful analysis of Cavaradossi’s final aria: E Lucevan le Stelle. “The text of the aria recalls Dante’s famous line that there is no greater sorrow than to recall a time of happiness in misery. ‘E lucevan le stelle’ creates the impression of an improvisation, as though the words came to Cavaradossi on the spur of the moment. This improvisation dictates the structure of the music… combined with the gypsy-like rubato, seems a striking reflection of the disturbed state of Cavaradossi’s mind at this point in the drama.”28 Carner had previously discussed Cavaradossi’s first aria and though he sets the two arias in contrast to each other they have much in common. Several scholars, like Carner, acknowledge the parallels between Act I and III: “the first and last acts are a triumph of symmetry in which the last functions as a distorted reflection of the first.”29 It is through this comparison that E Lucevan le Stelle ought to be considered in respect to Recondita armonia.
The musical and dramatic elements that create E Lucevan le Stelle are more easily understood than that of its first act counter part. To accentuate the contrast in affect between the two arias Puccini set the lament in a key a tritone way and in the minor mode. In comparison to his cavatina the harmony of Cavaradossi’s lament while still triadic is based more on voice leading parsimony; though it is not without dominant-tonic key confirmations (cadences) in B minor. Puccini’s voice-leading creates a melancholy, despondent harmonic stasis. There is no sense of progression just lamentation. The first half of E Lucevan le Stelle is written with a similar recitation formula to the corresponding sections in Recondita Armonia (ex. 8).
Example 8: Act III, mm. 185 – 189.

Where the cavatina’s contrasting section is based on disjunct motion (ex. 3b) manifested in leaps, the contrasting section of the lament is in conjunct motion (ex. 9). The melodic contours of the lament are important. The repetitive setting of each line of text, to the exact melody already articulated by the clarinet, allows the singing-actor to nuance both melody and text. The declamatory or recitation style is again evocative of Cavaradossi’s struggle with religion (ex. 8) The conjunct motion in the second section of E Lucevan le Stelle represents his defeat, accepting his fate (ex. 9).
            Example 9: Act III, mm. 196 – 200.
This can be understood by comparing Cavaradossi’s disjunctly set love song and his pathetically set lament. The melodic contours of the lament flow like a sine curve, with occasional spikes, what Carner identifies as “…‘hoquet-tragique’ – ‘tragic hiccup’…”30 (ex. 10) But there are two elements beyond the melody that make this lament a “show stopper.” The first and most obvious show-stopping element corresponds to the cavatina, it is in the rhythmic freedom that pervades the final line of text and a sustained high note. The other is more metaphoric.
Example 10: Act III, mm. 206 - 210.
Wilson aptly points out that “Tosca is an opera caught between truth and lies… insincerity is its main theme: the opera’s principal events are structured around a series of deceptions that intensify in dramatic power and consequence over the course of the work.”31 This intensification or spinning out that he mentions comes to a head before each death. Cavaradossi is facing truth in his lament. The element that is so effective is the blatant reality Cavaradossi cannot escape. Whether or not his literal deception of Scarpia was morally right or wrong Cavaradossi is faced with fatal retribution and has no option but to give into the truth. It is this element of his lament that teems pathos. The melodic contours, the harmonic and emotional stasis, tragic hiccup and the constant fluctuation of tempo provide this rhetorically appropriate setting to the lament. Whether a continued struggle between his atheism and his love, or as Nicassio analyses “three distinct mental states: erotic passion; realization of mortality; the collapse of all hope,”32 the lament is Puccini’s visceral expression of veristic romanticism.
            If the evocative orchestration, melodies of the arias and the “versi scelti”33 poetry are not intrinsically suggestive Puccini fills his score with stage direction. Puccini’s goal, to create an organic flowing drama, can be seen in his attention to detail; his mappings of both stage direction and emotional setting pervade Cavaradossi’s arias and ariettas. Throughout the first act arietta Qual’occhio al Mondo (Which Eyes on the Earth), the music and drama spinout “guide themes” also called reminiscence themes and motifs. Detailed and analytic scholarship has been published regarding the various themes and motives in Tosca along with their placement and significance in the opera.34 At a point nearly every two measures Puccini indicates some type of change. Just before rehearsal number 35, where the arietta beings, Puccini’s staging is “affectionately holds Tosca close to him, looking into her eyes.” Two measures later he writes “andante sostenuto armonioso,” two measures after “con calor,” and the pattern continues such that in the course of a twenty-one measure solo arietta Puccini includes twelve different staging or emotional directions. The corresponding solo arietta in the third act is O Dolci Mani (Oh Sweet Hands). Here again Puccini indicates stage direction that set up the arietta: “he lovingly takes Tosca’s hands in his own.” In this sixteen-measure arietta there are ten different staging/emotional directions.                        
            Having discussed Cavaradossi’s bookend arias, their corresponding ariettas and his exclamatory b¢ the remaining vocally dramatic moment in the opera is the second act’s “Vittoria Vittoria” and its accompanying trio. The forty measures of music between rehearsal umber 42 and 44 contain a latent rebellious passion that expose the humanity in Cavaradossi’s character (ex. 11). Critics complain that it is unprecedented and problematic to the flow of logic and drama. I would argue that the obvious reading of this moment as a breaking point in his restraint is more human and indicative of Sardou’s Cavaradossi. I would also argue that the first act’s “La vita mi costasse vi salverò” provides direct insight to his Sardou origins and is a preview to this “paean of liberty”35 of Act two. In response to the Napoleon’s victory at Marengo and the death of Angelotti, Cavaradossi exclaims a cappella, on an F sharp major arpeggio up to a sustained A sharp, “Vittoria! Vittoria!”  The grand pause in the orchestra is marked with a col canto to be performed to the singer’s intention and, from the earliest records, tenors have sustained this A sharp at their will.
Example 11: Act II, mm 579 – 581.
Puccini provides a stage direction over mm. 573 – 575 preparing Cavaradossi’s heroic cry “Cavaradossi has listened to Sciarrone's words with mounting anxiety, in his enthusiasm he finds the strength to leap up and confront Scarpia threateningly.” Musically it contains a stentorian tenor melody that spans the height of his range, the texture is dense and dramatically Cavaradossi is signing his own death sentence. The likelihood or probability of this moment in the opera being preserved in early recordings is typically slim to none. It takes place in the middle of the act, it is about a minute long, it does feature the tenor but it is not an aria or arietta. Fortunately this moment in the opera happens to be one of the only extant audio clip of Emilio de Marchi’s Cavaradossi.36
            The recording industry plays an enormous part in the study of operatic characters. The singing-actor approaching Tosca has the fortune to hear those Tenors who premiered this role. Tosca was premiered January of 1900 in Rome with Emilio de Marchi as Cavaradossi.37 Marchi’s name is not well known today and there are only “fragments” of his Cavaradossi extant from a cylinder recorded live at the old Metropolitan Opera House. The recording industry was still in its infancy; it was not until 1902 that the wildly successful Enrico Caruso would make his first recording for the Gramophone Company in Milan in 1902.38 Despite Caruso’s success in the teens and twenties at the premiere Puccini wanted the veteran, forty-year-old De Marchi.  He went on to sing Cavaradossi “at Covent Garden (1901, 1905) and the Metropolitan.”39 J.B. Steane describes Marchi’s recording as carrying “dramatic conviction and ring(s) out well on the high notes.” It does ring out well on the high notes, however Marchi adds a little bit of muscle to the ends of his phrases and the dramatic conviction sounds more like a yell than it does like singing. After the premiere with Marchi in Rome there was Giuseppe Borgatti in Milan. The Borgatti recordings are bit clearer as they are studio recordings. His E Lucevan le Stelle, accompanied by piano, follows diligently the indications in score. Rodolfo Celletti describes Borgatti’s voice as “large, robust and of beautiful timbre… (sung) with delicacy and sweetness… Driven, perhaps, by his intensely dramatic temperament, he was the first tenor to introduce into the performance of verismo operas a forcefully emphatic delivery and an incisive, vehement declamatory manner. This was in contrast to the lyrical approach and virtuosity still frequently shown by the tenors of the preceding generation, such as Stagno and De Lucia. These qualities, together with a strong physique, vigorous acting and remarkable insight into the character of his roles, made him an exceptional Heldentenor who did much to further the cause of Wagner’s operas in Italy.”40 His diction is very clear and his voice full of even legato. His voice does not seem as powerful and vibrant as Marchi but more controlled and sweet. There is a lot of drama in his tone but unfortunately the vibrato is lost in the technology and if something as important and distinct as vibrato is lost it is sad to think of other nuances uncaptured by the primitive technology.41 Finally there is Fernando de Lucia who was the third Cavaradossi and premiered the opera at Covent Garden. His recordings of the two arias are unique; the lament exhibits an incredible control of dynamics and a powerful ringing voice where the cavatina is unusually slow which makes it seem clumsy.42 In spite of the slow tempo and somewhat tasteless rubato his vocal virtuosity is abundantly clear: power and ease, large dynamic range and evenness throughout each register.43 I chose these three tenors because they were the first Cavaradossi, were directly connected to the composer and by luck recordings of them exist. I would have liked to include Giuseppe Cremonini who premiered Cavaradossi at the Metropolitan Opera House but no recordings exist. The singing-actor has the choice to use any number of interpretations from the great tenors of the twentieth century, from Caruso to Corelli to Jonas Kaufman (in the twenty-first century).
            Cavaradossi does exist within the context of the Fach system. The quality of voice as presented by the first three Cavaradossi and the demands of the role indicate the jugendlicher heldentenor fach. It is a dramatic role that demands extended sections of sweet, loving and tender lyricism (the two ariettas Qual’Occhio al Mondo and O Dolci Mani) and ferocious, thunderous power (Vittoria! Vittoria!).  The two arias taken out of context could be executed well by a tenor in any fach, but the variety of music that Cavaradossi must sing throughout the opera - including the five high B flats, the two high B naturals and the pervading A’s – was designed for this fach. After having cultivated a secure, well trained jugendlicher heldentenor voice the next step in approaching Cavaradossi, in order to create a tangible, three-dimensional character, he must consider Cavaradossi’s dramatic origins. This includes understanding the fictional background that Sardou provides the French trained, anti-cleric, pro-napoleon Roman painter. Once the vocal and dramatic intent of Puccini and Sardou is understood the singing-actor can move on to the implementation of these elements into the music, realizing these extra musical aspects within the context of the opera. Cavaradossi is an extremely demanding role and Puccini’s genius masks the challenges. His exclamations, laments, ardors, passions are all organically set and the tenor may rely on Puccini’s intuition to guide him through Mario Cavaradossi.
1. Carner, 16.
2. Ibid. 16 – 20.
3. Ibid. 3.
4. Nicassio, 47.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Sardou, La Tosca, trans., Ahlbrandt, 43-44.
8. Ibid, 8.
9. Nicasso, 65.
10. Sardou, La Tosca, trans., Ahlbrandt, 7.
11. Nicassio, 275.
12. Ibid.  65.
13. Julian Budden, “The Two Toscas,” in Tosca’s Prism, edited by Deborah Burton, Susan
Vandiver Nicassio and Agostino Zino, 118.
14. Gary Tomlinson, “Puccini turns respectable: after a century of hostility, experts can bear to
sit through 'Tosca,'” 14.
15. Ibid.
16. Nicassio, 67.
17. IPA source, “Jugendlicher Heldentenor,”
18. Potter, 75.
19. Carner, 102.
20. Ibid.
21. Garzanti Linguistica,
22. Nicassio,137.
23. Carner, 102.
24. David Fallows Grove Music Online David Fallows. "Allargando." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed April 12, 2011)
25. Roger Parker, “Analysis:Act I in perspective,” Giacomo Puccini: Tosca,
Mosco Carner, 127.

26. Ibid, 106.
27. Ricordi, 76.
28. Carner, 102.
29. Nicassio, 135.
30. Carner, 104.
31. Wilson, 69.
32. Nicassio, 235.
33. Parker, “Analysis:Act I in perspective.”
34. See the analyses in Tosca’s Prism, ed. by Deborah Burton, Susan Vandiver Nicassio and Agostino Zino. Also Giacomo Puccini: Tosca, by Mosco Carner; Tosca’s Rome, by Susan Vandiver Nicassio.
35. Carner, 39.
37. Steane, "De Marchi, Emilio,” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online.
39. Steane, "De Marchi, Emilio.”
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