Tosca – plot summary
Tosca premiered in Rome in 1900 and is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini which features some of his best-known arias. It is set in Rome, over the course of less than 24 hours, in a period of extreme political upheaval.
Floria Tosca is in love with Cavaradossi, an artist working on a painting in a private chapel in Rome. Tosca is unaware that Cavaradossi is hiding escaped political prisoner Angelotti in the church. When Tosca comes to visit Cavaradossi, she is suspicious of who the muse is for his painting of Mary Magdalene, but Cavaradossi reassures her of his love for her.
Later, Baron Scarpia, his henchman Spoletta and police agents arrive to search the church for Angelotti and find some clues he has been hiding there. Scarpia is suspicious that Cavaradossi has been hiding Angelotti. When Tosca returns, he makes her feel jealous by suggesting that Cavaradossi has been meeting another woman in the chapel. Tosca believes him and storms off to confront Cavaradossi, secretly followed by Scarpia’s henchman Spoletta. Scarpia is delighted and it becomes clear he plans to execute Cavaradossi and take Tosca for himself.
Later, as Scarpia sends a note inviting Tosca to come to his apartment, Spoletta reports that Cavaradossi has been captured, but under interrogation he denies all knowledge of Angelotti’s whereabouts. Tosca arrives just in time to see Cavaradossi being taken out and he tells her quickly not to tell Scarpia anything. In Scarpia’s apartment he promises that if she tells him where Angelotti is, he will stop the torture of Cavaradossi which she can hear taking place in the room next door. She capitulates, telling Scarpia to look in the well in Cavaradossi’s garden. Cavaradossi is devastated to hear that Tosca has betrayed his friend and in his anger, praises for the French army descending on Rome, which gives Scarpia an excuse to order his execution.
Scarpia sends Spoletta to arrange a mock execution. As Scarpia brings a safe passage document for Tosca and Cavaradossi to her, he prepares to embrace her and she stabs him.
While Cavaradossi is writing a final letter to Tosca before his execution, she arrives with the safe-conduct letter. She tells him the execution will be staged, so Cavaradossi must feign death after the firing squad fire blanks at him before they can escape together. She is impressed by his acting as he falls to the ground, As news of Scarpia’s murder reaches the guards, they rush in on Tosca.
Book now for Northern Ireland Opera’s Tosca at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, for four performances only from 09 – 16 September.