Puccini: “Lucevan le Stelle” from “Tosca”: Transcribed For Cello

Here is the sheet music for a cello transcription of “E Lucevan le Stelle” (And The Stars Were Shining) from Puccini’s (1858-1924) opera Tosca (1900).

This tragic but sublime aria is sung by the male protagonist just before his execution. Here we are at the absolute pinnacle of Romanticism – does music get any more intense (or beautiful) than this ??!!

The aria has been transposed down a major third from its original key of B minor into G minor. This allows us to play it twice, the second time one octave higher than the first, as though it were sung first by a baritone voice and then by a soprano. In the “Easier Version” however, both repetitions are in the lower octave. The piano part is the same for all versions. A video performance of this arrangement can be found here.

In this arrangement, the very free “ad libitum” rhythms of bars 1-2, 7-8, 15-16 etc. have been renotated more precisely in order to fit predictably with the prerecorded accompaniment. This should not however be allowed to eliminate the improvisatory feeling of these bars.

  1.    Edited Performance Version
  2.   Clean Performance Version
  3.   Easier Version
  4.   Piano Score

And here below is a play-along accompaniment audio. Extra notes have been added to this piano part during the cello’s little ad-lib passages in order to give us aural references during these very free moments. To be able to stay with the piano in this audio accompaniment it will be necessary (certainly at first) to use the cello part that has been made especially for this purpose because this part shows those extra piano notes as cue notes.  You can also see what the piano is doing in the Piano Score of this accompaniment.

  1. Cello Part for Playing With Prerecorded Accompaniment
  2.    Prerecorded Accompaniment Piano Score