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
Theater Tales

“So there was this big-deal diva doing the lead in Tosca, and she was a total bitch to the crew. And you do NOT be a bitch to the crew. Because one night, when she had her big throw-herself-off-the-building moment, there was supposed to be a mattress.”

“And there wasn’t a mattress?”

“No, better: they had a trampoline.”

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!