Earlier this year, while standing in front of the very building that is shown on the cover, I was realising that it was that very same building. I have never been in Rome before, and this is the Castel Sant’Angelo. I just knew it from Tosca, as some scenes in the opera had happened there.
Tosca is both the opera that has two of the most famous arias (E lucevan le stelle / Recondite armonia), it is also as operatic is non opera lovers could imagine. Yes, the fat lady dies at the end. Horribly, but not after singing one emotional aria.
When looking a bit closer, Tosca is also very much Wagnerian. It can be expected from a late arrival: it was composed in 1900. The opera is structured as one long musical piece. The music keeps going on, uninterrupted between the separate parts. Also, Puccini uses the Wagnerian technique of Leitmotive for his characters. If the action focusses on a character, his or her tune is played. A technique that was much later used in film scoring.
If you can stand a little drama, and are interested in getting to know more about opera, try it in a subtitled version on YouTube. That way you can follow the story easily.