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FeaturedOperas

Tosca
24 Oct 2005

PUCCINI: Tosca

Tosca, a melodrama in three acts

Giacomo Puccini, composer. Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on the play La Tosca by Victorien Sardou.

First performance: 14 January 1900 at Teatro Costanzi, Rome

Streaming Audio

Giacomo Puccini: Tosca

Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Tito Gobbi, Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano, Victor de Sabata (cond.)

 

Principal Characters:

Floria Tosca, a famous singer Soprano
Mario Cavaradossi, painter Tenor
Il Barone Scarpia, Chief of Police Baritone
Cesar Angelotti, a political prisoner Bass
Il Sagrestano (the sacristan) Baritone
Spoletta, a police agent Tenor
Sciarrone, a gendarme Bass
Un Carceriere (a jailer) Bass
Un Pastore (a shepherd) Boy soprano

Time and Place

June 1800, Rome

Summary

Act One

Setting: Inside the Church of Sant'Andrea della Valle, Rome.

Angelotti, a political prisoner, enters furtively, having just escaped from the Castel Sant'Angelo through the help of his sister, the Marchesa Attavanti, who has left him some clothes in the church and the key to the Attavanti Chapel, where he can hide and disguise himself. When Angelotti is hidden, the painter Mario Cavaradossi comes in to resume work on a Maria Maddalena. The sacristan points out a resemblance between the Maria Maddalena and a strange lady who has been coming to the church frequently of late (the Marchesa). Mario contemplates the harmony of the stranger's beauty with that of his beloved, Tosca. Angelotti reappears and recognizes his old friend, Mario. Mario promises to help, but they are interrupted by the appearance of Tosca. Angelotti hides, which leads Tosca to become jealously suspicious. Mario allays her suspicions they agree to meet that evening. After Tosca leaves, Angelotti reemerges and Mario takes him to his villa outside the city.

The sacristan returns to announce the defeat of Napoleon but finds Mario has left. Choristers and acolytes prepare the Te Deum to celebrate the victory of the royalists; however, they are silenced when Scarpia enters. He has tracked Angelotti to the church and Mario's lunch basket is found in the chapel. Mario now becomes the target of his suspicions. Using the Marchesa's fan to arouse Tosca's jealousy, she flees the church and is followed by Scarpia's men. Scarpia relishes the thought of having Mario executed and possessing Tosca.

Act Two

Setting: Scarpia's apartments in the Palazzo Farnese.

As the Queen of Naples celebrates the victory in another part of the building, Spoletta arrives to report that Angelotti could not be found at Mario's villa. Mario has been brought in for questioning, but he stands silent. Tosca arrives. Mario urges her not to say anything. She nevertheless reveals Angelotti's whereabouts as Mario is being tortured. Mario rebukes her; however, he is overjoyed when Sciarrone arrives to inform Scarpia that Napoleon has won the battle at Marengo. Scarpia orders Mario to be executed at dawn. Tosca pleas for mercy. Spoletta returns with news that Angelotti has killed himself, rather than be captured. Scarpia offers to hold a mock execution of Mario in exchange for Tosca's love. She agrees. As he writes out the safe-conduct, Tosca grabs a knife on the table. When Scarpia approaches to claim his prize, she stabs him.

Act Three

Setting: Dawn atop the Castel Sant'Angelo.

While a shepherd sings in the distance, Mario is brought up to his place of execution. Alone he contemplates Tosca and his life. Tosca arrives withnews of the mock execution. She admits that she has killed Scarpia. The execution is ordered. Mario falls. Tosca approaches and urges him to rise only to find that he is dead. Spoletta then rushes in to arrest her for the murder of Scarpia. Tosca jumps from the parapet to her death.

Click here for the complete libretto.

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