Scarpia, Baron

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(Puccini: Tosca). Bar. Chief of Police who lusts after the opera singer Tosca, lover of the painter Cavaradossi. After the defeat of Napoleon, he attends the celebratory Te Deum in the church where Cavaradossi is painting the Madonna. Kneeling to participate in the prayers, Scarpia mutters about how he hopes to persuade Tosca to be his. Back at his residence, Tosca can be heard singing off‐stage at the party given by Queen Caroline of Naples. Scarpia sends Sciarrone to deliver a note to Tosca to ensure that she comes to his apartment. Spoletta tells him they have arrested Cavaradossi for hiding a political fugitive. He is to be tortured and Scarpia hopes that by forcing Tosca to witness this, she will then succumb to him to save her lover. Tosca does indeed agree to be his, but first he must give her a written guarantee of safe passage for herself and Cavaradossi. He writes and signs this, then lustfully approaches her. With a knife she has taken from his table, Tosca kills him—no one need ever again be afraid of the evil Scarpia. But Scarpia has tricked her—Cavaradossi is executed by a firing squad as soldiers discover Scarpia's body. Arias: Tarda è la notte (‘Night is late’); Già, mi dicon venal (‘Yes, they say that I am venal’). Created (1900) by Eugenio Giraldoni. It is interesting that Scarpia appears for only a short while in Act 1 and not at all in Act 3. He has no major solo aria, most of his role consisting of exchanges with Tosca and his policemen during Act 2. Nevertheless it is a role aspired to by all great Italianate baritones, of whom Tito Gobbi, especially in his performances with Maria Callas as Tosca, was outstanding. Other names worth noting in this part include Dino Borgioli, Marcel Journet, Mariano Stabile, Lawrence Tibbett, Marko Rothmüller, George London, Leonard Warren, Giuseppe Taddei, Gabriel Bacquier, Kim Borg, Raimund Herincx, Dietrich Fischer‐Dieskau, Sherrill Milnes, Sergei Leiferkus, Bryn Terfel, and Otakar Kraus. See also article by Sir Jonathan Miller.

Subjects: Opera.

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