Column “The Classic” (Episode 11): Traveling opera fans

I only noticed it when we were sitting at the Ramazzotti in the evening. I was actually at the original location of a famous opera! Namely in Portici, which was once a fishing village and now belongs to the suburban belt of Naples.

After visiting the fantastic excavations of ancient Herculaneum, we drove to the Reggia di Portici. In the summer residence of the Neapolitan kings there is an exhibition with preserved wooden furniture from the city that was buried in 79 AD when Vesuvius erupted.

On the trail of Puccini’s “Tosca” through Rome

This is where the “Muette de Portici” comes from, the silent leading actress from Daniel-Francois-Esprit Auber’s Grand Opéra, which premiered in 1828. The work tells of a popular uprising in the 17th century and became a European mega success. In Berlin alone, the “Muette” performed 285 times on the stage of the court opera, in Belgium it even triggered a revolution against the Dutch occupiers.

Visiting the locations where their favorite movies were filmed is a popular pastime for movie buffs. Opera aficionados, on the other hand, tend to follow certain stars – which is understandable, since they can always see their idols live. For supporters of the art of reproduction, cinema, the only option is location spotting.

With hardly any other opera, however, is it so easy to get to where the action is taking place as with Puccini’s “Tosca”, whose three acts are all set in Rome, in places that still look the same today as they did a good 120 years ago, when the score was created.

The composer was a detail fanatic in every respect. In order to perfectly capture the atmosphere in the Castel Sant’Angelo at the beginning of Act 3, he got up in the middle of the night, went to the fortress on the banks of the Tiber and made a note of which church bell struck at four o’clock on the hour.

Classic tourists can visit Castel Sant’Angelo just as easily as the centrally located church of Sant’Andrea della Valle: the chapel in which the first act takes place is the first at the entrance. The Palazzo Farnese – scene of the middle act – is now used by the French embassy. I was lucky to visit Rome because it was Heritage Days and I was able to book a tour. Even in the evening, at the hour when Tosca is giving her concert in the courtyard of the palazzo. A magical experience.

The column “The Classic” appears every Thursday.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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