E Lucevan Le Stelle (1900) – Giacomo Puccini

Just the other week I caught a sensational documentary on one of my favourite channels ‘Film and Arts‘ called Magical Moments in Music: Maria Callas & Tosca. It tells the wondrous comeback performance in 1964 of American-born Greek Soprano Maria Callas. Most notably her Paris, New York, and London Toscas between January–February. A live television transmission of act 2 of the Covent Garden Tosca of 1964 was broadcast in Britain on February 9, 1964, giving a rare view of Callas in performance and on-stage collaboration with Tito Gobbi.

The Opera Tosca and I go way back. As far back as the following photo:

I remember fondly in my early 20’s Keith pictured above with my Mother and I who introduced me to Puccini and the Tosca opera specifically. Keith worked as an Education Policy Advisor and had also been a School Principal. My best friend Kevin, Keith and I spent many an hour sinking pool balls, listening to music and basically chewing the fat after a long week. Sometimes on my vacations I spent time at Keith’s residence and often we found ourselves plonked on the couch; indulging in red wine as we watched Tosca: Live in Rome starring Placido Domingo. Keith couldn’t stop impressing upon me the enormity of this event and how they managed to synchronise the orchestra with Placido singing in a different location. Not to mention muttering every small detail of the plot.

My favourite Aria from Puccini’s Tosca is today’s featured music – E lucevan le stelle (“And the stars were shining”). It is from the third act and about a painter in love with the singer Tosca, while he waits for his execution on the roof of Castel Sant’Angelo. More music will come from Puccini here, so I will dig into his biography in a later post. His most renowned works are amongst the most frequently performed Operas in history.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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