Puccini's "Tosca" returns to the Metropolitan Opera on Oct. 16 with superstar Angela Gheorghiu, Liudmyla Monastyrska, and Maria Guleghina alternating the title role.

The Music

"Tosca" is a favorite in the opera world as it has some of Puccini's most famous melodies including "Vissi d'Arte" and "E Lucevan le Stelle."

While critics have had problems with "Tosca's" subject matter, the directness and intensity of its score has made it one of Puccini's most acclaimed works. The opera is in the verismo style but has been considered one of the composer's most Wagnerian scores. The opera features leitmotifs that identify certain characters in the work and emotions.

The opera is also through-written with music never stopping and with limited recitatives. It also retains a limited number of set-pieces which are distinguished from their musical surroundings by their memorable melodies.

The History

Tosca was first performed at the Met in 1901 with Milka Ternina in the title role and Giuseppe Cremonini in the role of Cavaradossi, and Antonio Scotti as Scarpia. Since then the opera has been performed 937 times and ranks as the fifth highest performed work at the company. The opera has opened the Met five times including 1919 with Enrico Caruso and Geraldine Farrar. Another historic opening night was in 1958 when Renata Tebaldi performed the role with her frequent stage partner Mario del Monaco.

Among the most famous Toscas at the Met are Maria Callas, who appeared a number of times in the title role, Zinka Milanov, Licia Albanese, Antonietta Stella, Leontyne Price, Gabriella Tucci, Leonie Rysanek, Grace Bumbry, Birgit Nilsson, Shirley Verrett, Renata Scotto, Monserrat Caballe, Maria Guleghina, Aprille Millo, Deborah Voigt, and Hildegard Behrens

A number of tenors have sung Cavaradossi including Franco Corelli, Jose Cura, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Richard Tucker, Carlo Bergonzi, Jose Carerras in his Met debut, and the late Salvatore Licitra.

Tito Gobbi, Sherrill Milnes, Cornell MacNeil, Robert Merrill, Juan Pons, Leonard Warren and George London are among the most distinguished Scarpias to grace the Met stage.

The Production

The current production by Luc Bondy premiered in 2009 with Karita Mattila, Marcelo Alvarez and George Gagnidze. The production opened the season and is among the most memorable evenings at the Met as the production was booed by the audience. It was the first time in years that a production was booed as it replaced the opulent and beloved Franco Zefirelli production. Critics also gave the production bad reviews. However, it has remained in the repertoire and has barely missed a season.

The production has seen Patricia Racette, Sondra Radvanovsky and Violeta Urmana take on the title role. Meanwhile, Roberto Alagna, Licitra and Jonas Kaufmann have sung the role of Cavaradossi.

The notable Scarpias to take on the production include Falk Struckmann, James Morris and Bryn Terfel.

The production has been part of the Live in HD series two times.

The Performers

This season will see four new Toscas at the Met. Angela Gheorghiu will sing two performances bring her acclaimed interpretation. The Romanian soprano has sung the role in London and Vienna and has been a sensation. Gheorghiu is among the most popular sopranos in the world for her vocal skills and her operatic persona.

Maria Guleghina will bring back her acclaimed interpretation that reigned at the Met in the early 2000s. The dramatic soprano made her Met debut in the role of Tosca back in 1991 and returned to the role nine times at the Met. She has performed the work all over the world including Milan and St. Petersburg. Guleghina has not been present at the Met since 2012 and has not performed "Tosca" at the house since 2006.

Liudmyla Monastyrksa and Oksana Dyka will also sing the role of Tosca. Both sopranos are among the rising star dramatic sopranos that have become fixtures all over the world.

Massimo Giordano returns to the New York stage for the first time since 2009 in the role of Cavaradossi. He will alternate with Met veteran Marcello Giordani and Roberto Aronica.

Baritone George Gagnidze will reprise his turn as Scarpia and will alternate with Zeljko Lucic and Marco Vratogna.

John Del Carlo will make a cameo appearance as the Sacristan.

Placido Domingo will conduct his first "Tosca" at the Met and will alternate with Jospeh Colaneri. The opera will be performed 13 times from October until December.