Tutte le strade portano a Roma
The Eternal City has inspired opera composers from Claudio Monteverdi to Benjamin Britten to explore how we humans have lived and loved in this wondrous city. From the founding of the Roman Republic, down through the glory that was the Roman Empire to its fall, through the turbulent Renaissance with its intrigue and genius, continuing through the nineteenth century political upheavals: Rome invites composers to contemplate the best and worst in people.
Composers who have written operas set in Rome include:
Claudio Monteverdi–L’Incoronazione de Poppea (1642)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart–La Clemnza di Tito (1791)
Gasparo Spontini–La Vestale (1807)
Hector Berlioz–Benevuto Cellini (1837)
Ricahrd Wagner– Rienzi, Last of the Tribunes (1842)
Gaetano Donizetti—Don Pasquale (1843): finally, some comic relief!
Giacomo Puccini–Tosca (1900)
Arrigo Boito–Nerone (1924)
Benjamin Britten–The Rape of Lucretia (1946)
Perhaps the most familiar and well-loved is Puccini’s Tosca. You can find tours of Rome which take you around the familiar sites that appear in the opera, the Castel Sant’Angelo being a major visitation choice.
Here are some highlights from some of these operas.
Monteverdi’s I’Incoronazione di Poppea:
Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito
Hector Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini
Donizetti’s Don Pasquale
Pfitzner’s Palestrina ( a musical prelude but with pictures of Rome)
Britten’s Rape of Lucretia
And saving the best for last, Puccini’s Tosca!
There have been many great Toscas, but only one Maria Callas.