Puccini’s Tosca: Musical, Theatrical, and Social Perspectives with Brian Oberlander, PhD

Puccini’s Tosca: Musical, Theatrical, and Social Perspectives with Brian Oberlander, PhD

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Course Title: Puccini’s Tosca: Musical, Theatrical, and Social Perspectives

Instructor: Brian Oberlander

Brought to you by Odyssey  

October, 2023 - October 05, 2023 (1 Session)  

Thursday, 6 PM ET 

Virtual via Zoom


COURSE DESCRIPTION: What do the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Battle of Marengo, and legendary French actor Sarah Bernhardt have in common? They all influenced Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca (1900). We set the scene with an overview of Puccini’s operas in the 1890s and the aesthetics of Italian verismo opera. We then explore the libretto’s inspiration in an 1887 French play, La Tosca, that toured Italy with Bernhardt in the title role and Puccini in the audience—ultimately shaping his operatic heroine. As a celebrated public figure making impossible choices in the blood-soaked world of Puccini’s opera, Floria Tosca challenged conceptions of women, power, and public life in turn-of-the-century Italy. We trace these gendered contours in her music, with Maria Callas as our guide, and interpret her harrowing acts of violence through this lens. We also examine the opera’s Napoleonic historical references in light of the social and political instability that surrounded Tosca’s premiere, including bomb threats against the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. We conclude with in-depth discussion of music, libretto, and staging in several iconic scenes—from Baron Scarpia’s dastardly desecration of the Te Deum procession to Floria’s heart-rending aria Vissi d’arte.


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Johns Hopkins alumni, staff, faculty and their spouse or domestic partners are eligible for tuition remission for Odyssey lifelong learning courses. Select the correct ticket pricing during registration. If we cannot confirm your eligibility, you will be requested to pay the full registration price for the course.  Eligibility details can be found here

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If a course is canceled or closed, the registrant is notified immediately, and a full refund is processed automatically unless another course is requested. Registrants who wish to withdraw from an active course must complete the online Odyssey Refund Request Form. Attach any documentation to support your request (e.g., medical documentation, family crisis documentation, etc.). 

100% refund- Prior to the start of the course. 

50% refund- During the first week of the course. 

No refunds will be given after the first week of each course unless in exceptional cases. 

Please note, refunds apply only to the tuition portion of an Odyssey participant’s charges and are not applicable to any fees or gifts made to the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association. Registrants will be notified by email if a refund is approved within (5) business days. 

 Event Date
Thursday, October 5, 2023
Start Time: 6:00pm EDT
End Time: 8:00pm EDT

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