Synopsis: Tosca

July 31, 2006

The opera Tosca premiered on January 14, 1900 at Teatro dell'Opera in Rome (Teatro Costanzi)

Music composed by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto written by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa

Act I
Church at Sant' Andrea della Valle in Rome, June 1800

Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner, wanders into the church to hide. The sacristan has come to clean paint brushes as Mario Cavaradossi, the painter, follows him into the chapel to continue his work on the portrait of Mary Magdalene. The portrait closely resembles Marchesa Attavanti, Angelotti’s sister who has been coming to the chapel to pray.

The sacristan leaves and Floria Tosca, the famed singer, enters. Tosca is Mario Cavaradossi’s lover. She recognizes that the woman portrayed in the painting is Marchesa Attavanti, which inflames her jealousy. She suspects that Cavaradossi has been seeing Marchesa Attavanti and questions him about it.

After she leaves, Angelotti returns and is recognized by his friend, Mario, who urges him to seek refuge at his villa. They both flee. Later, the notorious chief of police, Scarpia, arrives looking for Angelotti who has escaped from the prison Castel Sant’Angelo. Scarpia finds a fan with the Attavanti crest. This leads him to believe that Mario Cavaradossi is hiding Angelotti.

Tosca returns to the chapel where the police are investigating. Scarpia shows her the fan. Believing Mario to be unfaithful, Tosca leaves in anger to confront him. Scarpia sends his men to follow Tosca in hopes that she will lead them to Angelotti.

Act II
Farnese Palace

Scarpia asks for news of the pursuit of Angelotti. He is told that Tosca was followed to Cavaradossi’s villa and that the spy, unable to find Angelotti, arrested Mario. The chief interrogates Mario regarding Angelotti’s whereabouts. He gives no information.  Tosca arrives at the palace after having been summoned by Scarpia. She says that Mario was alone at his villa.

Mario is led off to the torture chamber. Unable to bear hearing Mario in pain, Tosca reveals Angelotti’s hiding place. An officer rushes in to announce that Napoleon has won the Battle of Marengo, a defeat for in Scarpia's eyes. Mario cries, “Vittoria!” (victory) upon hearing the news and is led to prison to await execution.

Scarpia, who has always desired Tosca, offers Mario’s freedom in exchange for a night with her. At first she refuses his advances, but then agrees. He arranges a mock execution of Mario and writes an order for Tosca and Mario’s safe passage. As Scarpia approaches her, Tosca plunges a knife into his heart, grabs the document from his hand and flees.

Castel Sant’ Angelo

Tosca rushes to the prison to tell Mario that after a mock execution, he will be freed. He only has to feign his death.

The time comes and shots are fired. Cavaradossi falls. Tosca realizes that Scarpia has deceived her. Cavaradossi is dead and the authorities have learned what she has done to Scarpia. Tosca jumps from the battlements.

See also:
Upcoming performances of Tosca in Europe

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