Artist Date | A New Look at Tosca

There’s nothing quite like the opera, except for a contemporary twist on an opera. I want to share one of my most iconic artist dates ever – to see the grippingly beautiful, tragic and piercing, la Tosca at the opening night of Teatro alla Scala in Milan. And my date for the evening? I was accompanied by one of my nearest and dearest artists in my life — my father, Steve Acunto.


A night of glamour

Throughout my lifetime, I have been blessed to be immersed in the culturally beautiful world that is opera – thanks mostly to my father’s influence. This was not my first time seeing Tosca. Throughout my childhood, these arias and many others were the constant soundtrack. I was even gifted a Tosca coloring book by my father, who has always had a deep love for the arts.

That is one of the reasons this show felt so different. I knew everything there was to know about the heady and tumultuous story, but I truly felt this opera in my soul for the first time that night.

Act Two. This photo shows the amazing set design, combining custom furnishings with video projections. Color and costume complemented to form a beautiful harmony. Photo courtesy Teatro alla Scala

From the very opening scene at the church (Sant’Andrea della Valle) I was catapulted into pure glamour and exalted entertainment. There was beautiful artistry to be discovered by the senses in every moment. From the innovative set designs that seamlessly and cleverly incorporated video projections with impressive scenery, to the costume design – especially Tosca’s dresses. The entire concept was a beautiful marriage of classical Zeffirelli-esque concepts with contemporary flourish, using lighting and moving pieces.

The voices of Tosca were truly transcendent as well. The Milanese audiences are notoriously scrupulous, and have been known to “boo” a lesser performance. This night, my appreciation was in sync with the crowds, who cheered the soprano and showered her with roses. Speaking of the crowd, surrounding me were the glitterati of Italy, all gathered in one gorgeous theater. Each way my head turned between acts, visions of haute couture and sheer elegance – as well as campy flourishes – vied for the scene.

It was a night to be remember for a long time.

That is the beauty of opera – and art – for me. A story that has been told for hundreds of years can feel fresh with the creativity of the teller. Tosca showed me this magic – how stories and songs can be retold. We still love to know them in new ways.