View of soprano Leontyne Price in Puccini’s opera, “Tosca.” Stamped on back: “NBC photo.” Handwritten on back: “Miss Price in Act II.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library
How to write a Puccini opera

Step 1 - Attention-grabbing, one-measure introductory motif. Bring back when you need to wrench the audience back into the action.
Step 2 - introduce romantic, but abusive male lead
Step 3 - introduce innocent goddess female lead
Step 4 - high C’s mean we’re in love!
Step 5 - give woman a dagger (or tuberculosis, you know, your choice)
Step 6 - ???
Step 7 - everyone’s dead and you’re rich!

Puccini: Tosca - Act 3: E Lucevan Le Stelle
  • Puccini: Tosca - Act 3: E Lucevan Le Stelle
  • Plácido Domingo

O! dolci baci, o languide carezze,
mentr'io fremente le belle forme disciogliea dai veli!
Svanì per sempre il sogno mio d'amore.
L'ora è fuggita, e muoio disperato!
E muoio disperato!
E non ho amato mai tanto la vita,
tanto la vita!

Oh, sweet kisses and languorous caresses,
While feverishly I stripped the beautiful form of its veils!
Forever, my dream of love has vanished.
That moment has fled, and I die in desperation!
And I die in desperation!
And I never before loved life so much,
Loved life so much!