Tosca, Scottish Opera


This is a glorious, uplifting and gorgeously staged reminder of the immense power and passion of Puccini's musical storytelling.

Anthony Besch's landmark 1980 production of Tosca forms the core of this revival directed by Jonathan Cocker, with the action transposed from 1800 to 1940s Italy under Mussolini's fascists. There is good reason for the longevity and popularity of this production, and seeing it once again is like welcoming a long-lost friend.

Puccini's music is arguably at its apogee in Tosca, with a strong story including torture, murder, blasphemy, suicide and sexual blackmail, and an excellent libretto offering up countless iconic arias and duets.

Roland Wood as Scarpia and the cast of Tosca. Scottish Opera 2019. Credit James Glossop.

Roland Wood as Scarpia and the cast of Tosca. Scottish Opera 2019. Photo by James Glossop.

The story of a powerful, corrupt man seeking to gain sexual power over a woman as he oppresses those opposed to his regime could not be more relevant in 2019, and what was once famously described as Puccini's 'shabby little shocker' has a heightened resonance and impact today.

I could not find the slightest flaw in this spectacle - the orchestra, staging, sets, lighting, direction, and every vocal performance was assured, confident and regularly sent shivers down the spine.

If you have never seen an opera live on stage, or want to introduce someone to opera for the first time, then this is probably the best opportunity you will have to do so, because you will be totally engrossed from the start, and leave the theatre in a state of absolute delight. The delivery of Tosca's kiss (a dagger to the heart) forms an indelible memory that you should share in.

Natalya Romaniw as Tosca. Scottish Opera 2019. Credit James Glossop

Natalya Romaniw as Tosca. Scottish Opera 2019. Photo by James Glossop

The role of Tosca is admirably played by Natalya Romaniw, performing with vocal nuance and, where called upon, real power. Her nemesis, Scarpia is a gorgeously malevolent Roland Wood whose baritone voice is full of menace and darkness. Gwyn Hughes Jones is especially impressive in his duets with Romaniw, with his gutsy tenor filling the Theatre Royal with ease.

The orchestra of Scottish opera under conductor Stuart Stratford played with finesse and obvious love for the score throughout, and the added novelty of the sounds of church bells, organ and celeste that Puccini built into his work combined to create a truly immersive atmosphere.

Glasgow's first night audience rewarded all of the performers with loud enthusiasm, and took time out to acknowledge some of the more iconic arias.

This production will be touring Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh, and I would simply encourage you to get a ticket for what is a sumptuous evening of musical drama. This is an astounding spectacle and you will be enriched by witnessing it. The sets alone are astounding, and everything you see and hear on stage will remain with you long after the curtain has fallen.

5 stars ★★★★★
Running time approx. 2 hrs 45 mins. Sung in Italian with English supertitles.


Theatre Royal Glasgow
16 • 18 • 22 • 26 Oct 2019, 7.15pm
20 Oct 2019 3pm
Dementia Friendly performance
24 Oct 2019 3pm

His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
31 Oct • 2 Nov 2019, 7.15pm
Dementia Friendly performance
1 Nov 2019 3pm

Eden Court, Inverness
5 • 7 • 9 Nov 2019, 7.15pm

Festival Theatre Edinburgh
14 • 21 • 23 Nov 2019, 7.15pm
17 Nov 2019 3pm
Dementia Friendly performance
19 Nov 2019 3pm

Learning Events




Plus +

  • Stunning Set Design
  • Stunning Music
  • Stunning Performances

About David Petherick

David Petherick is the owner and publisher of and was born in, and lives, in Edinburgh. He is a writer, marketer and tweeter and is also a LinkedIn Profile Doctor. Follow @edinburghfest for festival news and updates and @petherick for personal news and views.

Have your say...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.