Puccini's Tosca: Musical, Theatrical, and Social Perspectives | Newberry

Puccini's Tosca: Musical, Theatrical, and Social Perspectives

Led by Brian Oberlander. Two sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Saturdays, November 14 - November 21


As a precaution to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Adult Education Seminars Program’s Fall 2020 term will continue to be held virtually. Virtual seminars meet via Zoom video conference and use email and Google Drive folders to share resources and communicate with instructors and participants. For more information about the Newberry’s virtual seminars and these tools, including a Zoom tutorial, please see our Virtual Seminars FAQ page. If you have questions about online learning, please feel free to reach out to seminars@newberry.org.

For more information about the Newberry’s response to COVID-19 please visit www.newberry.org/covid19.

Seminar Description

Sneak behind the scenes of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca (1900). From Puccini's inspiration in actress Sarah Bernhardt, who played Tosca in an earlier French drama while on tour in Italy, to the violent social unrest that delayed the opera’s premiere, we will uncover the artistic and social forces that shaped this harrowing composition. We will then analyze the score, libretto, casting, and staging as they coalesce in iconic productions -- with appearances by Maria Callas, among others -- discovering together how legendary arias like “Vissi d’arte” move us emotionally while offering insight into questions of gender, religion, and national identity in Puccini's Italy.

Two sessions. Registration – $110

Brian Oberlander holds a PhD in musicology from Northwestern University. He has taught courses in music history at Northwestern, National Louis University, Columbia College Chicago, and the Newberry.

Materials List


  • There are no required materials for this seminar.

First Reading:

  • There is no reading assignment for the first session of this seminar.

Registration Information

Online registration opens at 9 am (CDT) on Tuesday, September 1st.

Please note: Due to COVID-19, the Adult Education Seminars staff is working remotely and will be unable to process registration over the phone. For more information about registration, including a guide to online registration, see our Registration Information page. Questions? Please contact seminars program staff via email at seminars@newberry.org.

We offer a 10% discount to members, seniors, and students.

This seminar is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program. Learn more about registering for a seminar, program policies, or teaching a seminar.