Opera Scotland

Tosca 1980Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Tosca

Even at the time it seemed strange that Scottish Opera should wait eighteen years before mounting a production of Tosca. After all, Butterfly had been done in the opening season with a new staging in 1965, and Bohème followed in 1967. Tosca had been in the repertoire at Sadler’s Wells in the 1950s when Gibson was directing the company, and he made his debut at Covent Garden in 1957 with a cast including Zinka Milanov as Tosca and Franco Corelli as Cavaradossi (a recording of which has been made available by the Royal Opera’s Heritage series).

Perhaps they were all waiting for an idea which would be a bit special. Anthony Besch’s concept of setting it in the Mussolini period, specifically in 1943, was completely novel at the time, though nowadays setting the opera in 1800 would probably seem as daring. It is strange to remember how the curtain went up on the church interior, just like any other Tosca, and the modern dress didn't really hit home until the Sacristan, in traditional garb, fussed around for a few minutes, before approaching an alcove containing a statuette of the Virgin – and switched on the lights! The first appearance of Scarpia in blackshirt garb was always rather unsettling.

This remarkable staging would remain in the company's repertoire for over thirty years, and Besch continued to return to direct revivals until shortly before his death. Fortunately, later directors treated his work with respect. Apart from the dozens of performances to be given by Scottish Opera over the decades, the production was also hired out to companies in Spain, the USA and New Zealand.

Performance Cast

Cesare Angelotti former Consul, now a political prisoner

Donald Maxwell


William McCue

Mario Cavaradossi a painter

Seppo Ruohonen (Exc Nov 13)

Corneliu Murgu (Nov 13)

Floria Tosca a famous singer

Marina Krilovici (Gla exc Nov 6, 8)

Nicole Lorange (Nov 6, 8, Liv, Edi, New)

Baron Scarpia Chief of Police

Guillermo Sarabia (Gla)

Malcolm Donnelly (Liv, Edi, New)

Spoletta police agent

Francis Egerton

Sciarrone police officer

Norman White

Shepherd boy

Rosanne Brackenridge


Keith Brookes

Performance DatesTosca 1980

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

15 Oct, 19.15 18 Oct, 19.15 23 Oct, 19.15 25 Oct, 14.15 28 Oct, 19.15 31 Oct, 19.15 6 Nov, 19.15 8 Nov, 19.15

Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

18 Nov, 19.15 21 Nov, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

25 Nov, 19.15 27 Nov, 19.15 29 Nov, 19.15

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