Wearing its legit roots with more pride than prudence, helmer Giorgio Ferrara’s “Tosca and the Women,” a riff on the Puccini workhorse, benefits from star leads who obviously enjoyed playing together. However, this tale of casual onlookers weaving in and out of the opera’s drama is deadened by artificiality. Opera fans won’t be impressed by the vocalizing, but pic could enter the specialist vid market.
Emilia (scripter and star Franca Valeri) is the earthy peasant doorkeeper to Baron Scarpia (Armando Ariostini). In church, she sits next to Iride (Adriana Asti), a saucy, over-the-hill former actress married to Sciarrone (Franco Interlenghi), who’s employed to do Scarpia’s dirty work. On the night of a big party, Iride waits for her husband in Emilia’s quarters, where the two overhear violent goings-on between diva Tosca (Maria Pia Ionata) and Scarpia. Regional accents, especially Valeri’s pure Roman, provide some of the biggest laughs, but non-Italo auds won’t get the joke. Brief outdoor sequences look like bad knock-offs of Eric Rohmer’s “Lady and the Duke,” and Ferrara shows little feel for the “Tosca” tale itself. Score, recorded in Belgrade, is conducted by Angelo Giovagnoli.