Tosca and 9/11

Tosca, by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), is an opera I have seen about a dozen times in Frankfurt, with several different casts in two different productions.

The first of these was Alfred Kirchner’s production, which had its premiere on September 8, 2001. The premiere was generally well received by the public and the press, but was overshadowed three days later by the news that a group of young Arab men had highjacked four fully-tanked passenger planes and flown two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. This news caused much consternation in Germany and especially in Frankfurt, which has more skyscrapers than any other German city and probably more than all other German cities combined. Many concerts and other public events in Germany were cancelled on September 11, both as a show of solidarity and out of worries about security.

The next Tosca performance in Frankfurt was scheduled for Wednesday, September 12. On that morning an opera official phoned around to all the solo singers, asking if they were willing to perform on that evening. Independently of one another, they all said the show must go on.

It happened that I knew the American tenor who sang Cavaradossi in that performance. He told me later that he felt fine until after his big aria E lucevan le stele in the third act. After that the weirdness of his situation began to dawn on him. Here he was, the day after 9/11, an American sitting on a German opera stage being mis-treated by some young Arab men who were playing the roles of guards in the opera. After that he became increasingly upset about the security measures on his trans-Atlantic flights, and he actually cancelled an entire engagement for another Puccini opera in Frankfurt later that same season.

Frankfurt’s current Tosca production is by Andreas Kriegenburg. His staging premiered in 2011 and has been revived several times since then. It is scheduled — corona willing — for another revival in March and April 2021.

My photo in this post is from 2004. I revised the text in 2020.

See more posts on the composer Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924).
See also: The afternoon of 9/11 in Frankfurt.

2 thoughts on “Tosca and 9/11”

  1. The post 9/11 opera sounds surreal. I’m not sure we stopped watching the tv for most of that day. Normally we don’t watch it during the day at all to give you an idea of the significance. It was the Pearl Harbor of my generation.

    I was surprised at the number of skyscrapers in Frankfurt. New and interesting facts . . .

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