Tosca is a three-act dramatic opera by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It is based on the five-act French play La Tosca by Victorien Sardou. It is set in June, 1800, a time during which Italy had long been divided into several small states. In 1796, after the French Revolution, Napoleon conquered Rome and established a republic there, which was ruled by a seven-person board of consuls (the character Angelotti's previous office). In 1799, the French forces withdrew and the forces of Naples controlled the city. Then, in 1800, Napoleon once again conquered Rome after a definitive victory against Austrian forces on June 14 at the Battle of Marengo (the character of Cavaradossi rejoices at the news of this victory). The city would be French-controlled for the next fourteen years.
Tosca is a through-composed opera, meaning that it contains arias, recitative (sung dialogue), choruses, and other melodic elements all placed together to form an entirely musical, unitary production. It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on January 14, 1900 to somewhat lukewarm reviews, largely due to the watered-down libretto that didn't retain the complexity and vitality of the original play. But Tosca proved to be an audience favorite and has been lauded for its inventive and powerful score. It is ranked as the sixth most-performed opera worldwide. Buy your own Tosca tickets right away to see this hit opera and experience its powerful poignancy.Plot Synopsis:
Act I: The year is 1800. Inside Rome's church of Sant'Andrea della Valle, Cesare Angelotti, a former consul of the French-controlled Roman Republic and current political fugitive, hides away in the Attavanti private chapel (named for his sister, the Marchesa Attavanti). His friend, the painter Mario Cavaradossi, arrives to finish his painting of Mary Magdalene while singing of the contrast between her and his dark-haired lover, famous singer Floria Tosca. An elderly sacristan passes by and quietly mumbles his disapproval. Angelotti reveals himself and tells his friend that he is on the run from the police chief, Scarpia. Angelotti hides again when they hear footsteps, but it turns out to be Tosca, who has come to request a romantic rendezvous and express her jealous disapproval of Cavaradossi's painting's resemblance to the Marchesa. He reassures her of his fidelity and she leaves. Angelotti again emerges and tells of his plan to flee the church in clothes left by his sister. Suddenly a cannon shot is heard; Angelotti's escape has been discovered. As he and Cavaradossi flee, Scarpia arrives and questions the sacristan. When he learns that Cavaradossi, who he mistrusts, was in the church, he becomes suspicious that he aided in Angelotti's escape. When Tosca returns searching for her lover, Scarpia deviously asserts that he has been cheating on her with the Marchesa by pointing out an abandoned woman's fan and suggesting that someone must have startled the pair, causing them to make a quick escape. Embroiled with rage, Tosca goes off to confront Cavaradossi, and Scarpia puts soldiers on her tail, hoping that she will lead them to Angelotti. In an aside, he reveals his wicked intentions to kill Cavaradossi and take Tosca as his lover.
Act II: That evening, in his apartments in the Palazzo Farnese, Scarpia sends a note to Tosca asking her to join him for dinner. Spoletta, his subordinate, brings in Cavaradossi to be questioned about the whereabouts of Angelotti. As Tosca arrives, he refuses to divulge any information and asks her to remain reticent as well as he is brought to be tortured. Scarpia says that Tosca can save Cavaradossi if she reveals Angelotti's location; she initially refuses, but relents when she hears the anguished cries of her lover. Cavaradossi is brought back, and is upset with Tosca for her betrayal, but perks up and celebrates when it is announced that Napoleon has had a victory at Marengo. After he is taken away again, Scarpia propositions Tosca, saying that she can save her lover from certain death if she gives herself to him. She pleads with him to spare her, but he adamantly refuses. When a messenger announces that Angelotti has killed himself and that Cavaradossi is to be executed, she finally agrees to his proposal, provided that he assures that Cavaradossi's execution is staged as an act and that they will be able to escape afterward. Scarpia signs a document providing them with safe conduct and moves toward Tosca until she fatally stabs him and absconds with the document.
Act III: The following morning, at the upper levels of the Castel Sant'Angelo, Cavaradossi is being held prisoner and is notified that he will be put to death in one hour. Tosca arrives, gleefully presents the safe-conduct, and explains that they will be able to escape after the sham execution and before Scarpia's body is found. As he is led away, Tosca watches as the soldiers prepare their arms. After a booming volley of gunshots, Cavaradossi falls and Tosca is impressed at the reality of his performance. When all have left, she hurries to his side only to discover that he is dead--Scarpia had broken his word. When Spoletta and the soldiers rush in to apprehend Tosca for Scarpia's murder, she rises, evades their grasp, and leaps from the parapet.Run Time: Approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes Advisory: Due to length, format, and some adult themes, recommended for teens and older. Creative Team: Written by Giacomo Puccini French Libretto by Luigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa Based on La Tosca by Victorien Sardou