During a performance of Puccini’s “Tosca” last evening, I was temporarily confused about whether I was in the opera house or watching a Republican Party Primary debate.
The conflagration of sex, religion, and politics is a volatile mix that is as old as human culture and yet as fresh as Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s satires.
One would think that after a hundred and twelve years and countless performances of Puccini’s opera, Tosca would realize that her illicit love affair with artist and revolutionary Mario is likely to be in for a bumpy ride.
But every time she walks into the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle in Act One and promptly starts being wooed by her lover, she misses the clues that Mario’s ardent kisses, while genuine, are also intended to distract her attention from the escaped political prisoner that he is hiding from the tyrant Scarpia.
Tosca’s love is blind.
Until it isn’t.
Chief of Police Scarpia’s political oppression and sexual violence jar her from a romanticized ideal and into a profound commitment to risk everything for her beloved Mario.
In societies around the world, true love is in constant battle against religious intolerance and political expediency.
Many of us have testimonials we could share about the struggles in which our love has been tested in furnaces stoked by societal prejudice. Thankfully, for most, our relationships survive and are stronger as a result.
Sadly, the last act of some people’s love lives ends tragically, as did Tosca’s.
It is incumbent on all of us of to work for happier endings.
(The Canadian Opera Company’s production of “Tosca” that I enjoyed last night featured the brilliant Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka.)
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My memoir “August Farewell” tells the story of the two weeks between my partner Bill’s diagnosis with pancreatic cancer and his death. Interspersed among the scenes are vignettes from our thirty-three years together as a gay couple.
Information on “August Farewell” and on my novel “Searching for Gilead” is available on my website at http://DavidGHallman.com
Both the memoir and the novel are available for order from your local bookseller or on-line retailers including http://amazon.com, http://barnesandnoble.com, http://amazon.ca, http://chapters.indigo.ca, http://amazon.co.uk