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I was looking for music for my book trailer for The Vampire’s Gallery, and I came across a public domain recording from 1914 of Pasquale Amato singing the Te Deum from Tosca by Puccini.

Scenes like these are why I go to the opera. All the extras are on stage, you’re on the edge of your seat, and the music is enchanting.

Here’s a picture of the Te Deum scene.

By unknown. Caption says “Photo Boyer” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Scarpia (the man who is singing) is after Tosca’s (our heroine) lover. In order to find out where he’s hiding, he feeds Tosca a bunch of gossip to make her jealous. Tosca rushes off to her lover’s home, and Scarpia sends a man to follow her. This action takes place prior to the Te Deum.

The Te Deum takes place in a church, during a procession while the Te Deum is sung. In the midst of this religious service, Scarpia is singing how he’ll imprison Tosca’s lover and blackmail her into sleeping with him. At one point he even states that for Tosca, he would renounce heaven.

Here’s Sherrill Milnes singing the part. Really, all my blathering isn’t conveying a third of the drama of the scene. If I were to rate Milnes’ performance, I’d say it’s as panty dropper. I mean, that deliciously evil, you don’t have to torture my fiance to get me to sleep with you, I’m there Scarpia.