Tosca at the San Diego Opera


Step into the web of politics, police brutality, betrayal, jealousy and murder in Puccini’s blood-soaked and intense Tosca. In Rome, the fiery and celebrated singer Floria Tosca has no idea that her life, and that of the man she loves, will irrevocably change the very next day. In a whirlwind of events, Tosca is forced to save her rebellious lover from the tainted hands of the treacherous chief of police and must take a stand while looking death in the face. Will she murder for the man she loves? Will she save her lover in time? What will become of her?

With passionate arias and soaring, sensuous melodies, Tosca’s power and raw emotion will leave you breathless.


Sat, Feb 13 at 7pm
Tue, Feb 16 at 7pm
Fri, Feb 19 at 7pm
Sun, Feb 21 at 2pm

All performances at the San Diego Civic Theatre
2 hours and 40 minutes with two intermissions
In Italian with projected English supertitles



Alexia Voulgaridou

San Diego Opera Debut. Greek soprano Alexia Voulgaridou made her professional debut at the Prinzregententheater in Munich as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro. Notable performances include Mimì in La bohème, Marguerite in Faust, and Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly for The Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Notable roles included Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Violetta in La traviata, Adina in The Elixir of Love and the three heroines in The Tales of Hoffmann. She sings regularly with the Hamburg State Opera, where her many roles include Marguerite, Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites, Cio-Cio-San, Nedda in Cavalleria rusticana and Desdemona in Otello. Notable engagements elsewhere include the title role of Tosca and Magda in La rondine for Opera Australia, Mimì, Massenet’s Manon and Micaëla in Carmen at La Scala, the title role of Luisa Miller for Stuttgart State Opera, Maria in Mazepa for De Vlaamse Opera, Amelia Grimaldi in Simon Boccanegra in Toulouse and Anna Bolena in Turin and Palermo. Her concert performances include Verdi’s Requiem at the Ravenna Festival under Riccardo Muti. Her recordings include a solo album with Nicola Luisotti and the Munich Radio Orchestra on the Arte Nova label.


Gwyn Hughes Jones

San Diego Opera debut. Welsh tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones has sung at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, English National Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Opéra de Lyon, La Monnaie Brussels and Norwegian National Opera. In America, he has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Washington National Opera and Sante Fe Opera. Roles include Manrico in Il trovatore, Calàf in Turandot, Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Rodolfo in La bohème, Nemorino in The Elixir of Love, Chevalier des Grieux in Manon Lescaut, and the title role of Faust. He has appeared with orchestras including the Academia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Trondheim Symfoniorkester, Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Flanders Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and in recital at St Olaf Festival, Trondheim, Musashino Civic Cultural Hall, Tokyo, Wigmore Hall and Purcell Room, London, and Auditorium du Louvre, Paris. Recordings include Macduff in Verdi’s Macbeth. Recent roles include Pinkerton at the Metropolitan Opera and Walther von Stolzing Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for English National Opera.


Greer Grimsley

American bass-baritone Greer Grimsley made his San Diego Opera debut as Telramund in Lohengrin in 2000, returned for Pizarro in Fidelio in 2003, The High Priest of Dagon in Samson and Delilah in 2007, Scarpia in Tosca in 2009, Méphistophélès in Faust in 2010, and in 2012 as Jochanaan in Salome. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Captain Balstrode in Peter Grimes and has returned as Escamillo in Carmen, Jochanaan, Scarpia, Telramund, and Amfortas in Parsifal. Recent engagements include Wotan in Seattle Opera’s Ring Cycle, Don Pizarro in Fidelio with Opera Company of Philadelphia, Portland Opera and the Portuguese National Opera, Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde at Lyric Opera of Chicago, John the Baptist with the companies of Santa Fe, Vancouver and San Francisco and Scarpia with L’Opera de Montreal, Opera Colorado and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Other roles include The Flying Dutchman in Lithuania and Seattle Opera, the title role of Macbeth with Vancouver Opera, Amonasro in Aida with Portland Opera, Méphistophélès in Faust with New Orleans Opera, and the title role of Sweeney Todd with Vancouver Opera. A frequent singer in Europe, Grimsley has performed leading roles at Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Royal Danish Opera, Prague National Theatre, Aarhus-Den Jyske Opera in Denmark, the Scottish Opera and the Stadttheater Basel in Switzerland, among others.


Kristopher Irmiter

American bass-baritone Kristopher Irmiter made his San Diego Opera debut as Ned Keene in Peter Grimes in 2009, returning to sing Dr. Grenvil in La traviata in 2010, the Fifth Jew in Salome in 2012, and The Second Priest in 2013’s Murder in the Cathedral. The 2007 Grammy nominee has performed over 90 roles with more than 45 opera companies and made his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut as Scarpia in Tosca. Other credits include Daland in The Flying Dutchman for Opera Carolina, the title role of The Flying Dutchman for Michigan Opera Theatre and Utah Festival Opera, Scarpia for Arizona Opera, Méphistophélès in Faust for Lyric Opera Baltimore, The Immigration Officer in Flight for Austin Lyric Opera, Escamillo in Carmen and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte for Opera Carolina, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor for Opera Cleveland, Méphistophélès in Faust for Baltimore Lyric Opera, Rucker Lattimore in Cold Sassy Tree with Utah Opera and Atlanta Opera, the title role of Don Giovanni with Opera Carolina, Escamillo with San Francisco Opera, Capulet in Romeo and Juliet with Atlanta Opera, T.J. Rigg in the world premiere of Elmer Gantry with Nashville Opera, Mr. Redburn in Billy Budd with Pittsburgh Opera, Gremin in Eugene Onegin with the Todi Music Festival, and The Four Villains in The Tales of Hoffmann with Opera Lyra in Ottawa.


Massimo Zanetti

Massimo Zanetti maintains a high-profile international career in the world’s leading opera houses and concert halls: a dynamic and accomplished presence, he is particularly noted for his expertise in the 19th century Italian repertoire.

He begins the 2015/16 season leading Verdi’s Don Carlos (French version) at the ABAO Bilbao and returns to the Berlin Staatsoper for Mozart’s Don Giovanni. In February 2016 he will conduct Puccini’s Tosca at the San Diego Opera, followed by Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu.

Zanetti will conduct the opening concert at the VII International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival in Moscow, leading Russian National Orchestra in the Mozart’s Requiem.

Recent season highlights included a return to Teatro alla Scala di Milano conducting Carmen and Il barbiere di Siviglia, Verdi’s I due Foscari featuring Placido Domingo at Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona) and Verdi’s Otello at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. Two highly acclaimed concert performances of Simon Boccanegra with the Wiener Symphoniker and Thomas Hampson in the title role at the Vienna Konzerthaus culminated in a live CD recording for Decca, as well as concerts with Anna Netrebko at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris and at Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona.

As a guest conductor on the operatic stage, he has appeared with houses world-wide including Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), Opéra de Paris (Bastille), Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Teatro Regio di Torino, San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Royal Swedish Opera, Opera Australia at the Sydney Opera House, Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona), Teatro Real de Madrid, ABAO Bilbao, and the NCPA Beijing, among many others. He held the position of Music Director of the Flemish Opera from 1999–2002, leading highly-acclaimed productions including Salome and Pelléas et Melisande, in addition to many symphonic concerts as part of the season.

Over the last ten years, Zanetti has worked regularly at the Semperoper Dresden and has conducted new productions including Otello, Carmen, Le nozze di Figaro and Norma as well as several symphonic concerts with the Staatskapelle Dresden. He enjoys a close relationship with the Staatskapelle Berlin and is a regular guest also at Berlin’s Staatsoper. Following his debut with Norma in 2002, productions have included L’italiana in Algeri, Carmen, La Bohème, L’elisir d’amore, La Traviata and Don Carlo. After his debut in 2008 he has maintained a close collaboration with the Zürich Opera, most recently leading new productions of Luisa Miller and revivals of La fanciulla del West, Anna Bolena, Turandot, Otello and La Bohème. In 2007 he made his Bayerische Staatsoper debut with a new production of Luisa Miller and has returned for numerous revivals. Zanetti has also appeared at Teatro Regio di Parma’s prestigious Verdi Festival with Rigoletto (2008), Nabucco (2009 ), I Vespri Siciliani (2010) and Un ballo in maschera (2013), as well as Puccini’s Tosca.

As a symphonic conductor, Massimo Zanetti has worked regularly with the Czech Philharmonic, the Weimar Staatskapelle and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, in addition to leading the Bamberger Symphoniker, Stuttgart Radio Symphony and NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Finnish and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestras and the New Zealand Symphony. In the UK, Zanetti worked with the City of Birmingham Symphony and the Hallé Orchestra including both concerts and a UK tour. In Asia, he developed a close relationship with the NHK Symphony Tokyo, as well as with the China Philharmonic and Guangzhou Symphony Orchestras, a collaboration that will continue in forthcoming seasons. He has also worked with the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan and the Nagoya Symphony Orchestra. In 2014, Zanetti led the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in critically-acclaimed performances of Verdi’s Requiem.

Massimo Zanetti’s recordings include Flavio Testi’s Saül (Naïve, 2004) and a Decca release of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra (2013), as well as DVD releases by C Major within the ‘Tutto Verdi’ project of Rigoletto (2008) and I Vespri Siciliani (2010) from the Teatro Regio di Parma.


Lesley Koenig

American Director Lesley Koenig made her San Diego Opera debut in 1995 directing La bohème, returned in 1998 for The Marriage of Figaro, 2013 for Samson and Delilah and in 2014 for A Masked Ball. Koenig has been a stage director of opera for almost twenty years in top houses and festivals worldwide. She began her career at San Francisco Opera at 17 as a stage manager and was engaged as a stage director at the Metropolitan Opera when just 23 – the youngest director then hired to date. She has directed over 30 productions at the Met, including a highly acclaimed new production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte with Levine in 1996. She holds three shared Emmy Awards from the Met for Outstanding Classical Program in the Performing Arts. In 1998, Koenig took a sabbatical from her directing career to pursue further education and, in 2001, earned two Masters degrees from Stanford University, an MBA and an MA in Education. Shortly thereafter, she joined San Francisco Ballet as General Manager in charge of all operations, including managing the opening of over 60 new productions. Koenig subsequently left the Ballet and returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Assistant Manager and Director of Production. Most recently, she was General Director for Opera Boston, accepted a Fellowship at Stanford University in the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society and consults with the Stanford’s Institute for Creativity and the Arts.


Act I

The Church of Sant’ Andrea della Valle

Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner, runs into the Attavanti chapel in the church of Sant’ Andrea della Valle. He hides as a Sacristan is heard. Mario Cavaradossi enters to work on his portrait of Mary Magdalene – inspired by the Marchesa Attavanti (Angelotti’s sister), whom he has seen but does not know. He compares the raven beauty of the singer Floria Tosca with that of the blonde Magdalene. When the Sacristan leaves, Angelotti comes out of hiding and is recognized by Cavaradossi, who gives him food and hurries him back into the chapel as Tosca is heard calling outside. She jealously questions Cavaradossi, and reminds him of their rendezvous that evening at his villa. Recognizing the Marchesa Attavanti in the painting, she explodes, but he reassures Tosca he is not having an affair with her. After she has gone, Mario and Angelotti flee to Mario’s villa. Soon after, the Sacristan returns with choirboys, announcing a celebration. Baron Scarpia, chief of the secret police, searches for Angelotti. Tosca returns looking for Cavaradossi, and in comes Scarpia who shows her a fan which he has just found, decorated with the Attavanti crest. Thinking Mario faithless, Tosca tearfully vows vengeance and leaves. Scarpia sends his men to follow her and schemes to get her in his power.

Act II

The Farnese Palace

In the Farnese Palace, Scarpia acknowledges his lust for Tosca. The spy Spoletta arrives with Mario, who is interrogated as Tosca’s voice is heard singing a cantata downstairs. She enters as her lover is being taken to an adjoining room to be tortured. Unnerved by his screams, she reveals Angelotti’s hiding place at the villa. Realizing what has happened, Mario turns on Tosca, but the officer Sciarrone rushes in announcing that Napoleon has won the Battle of Marengo, a defeat for Scarpia’s side. Mario shouts his defiance and is dragged out. Scarpia suggests Tosca yield herself to him in exchange for her lover’s life. Fighting off his embraces, she protests her fate to God, having dedicated her life to art and love. Under pressure from Scarpia, Tosca is forced to give in or see her lover killed. In front of Tosca, Scarpia orders a mock execution for the prisoner, after which he is to be freed. When Scarpia writes a safe-conduct for the lovers, Tosca snatches a knife from the table and kills him. Wrenching the document from his fingers, she slips from the room.


The Roof of Castel Sant’ Angelo

Awaiting execution at the Castel Sant’Angelo, Mario bribes the jailer to take a farewell note to Tosca. Writing it, overcome with memories of love, he gives way to despair. Tosca runs in telling him that it will be a mock execution and they will be able to escape. As the firing squad appears, she coaches Mario on how to fake his death convincingly. The soldiers fire and depart. Tosca urges Mario to hurry and get up, but when he fails to move, she discovers that Scarpia’s treachery has reached from beyond the grave: the bullets were real. Calling out that she and Scarpia will meet before God, Tosca leaps to her death.

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