Composer: Puccini, Giacomo

Version: English version by Edmund Tracey (made for English National Opera)

Puccini’s Tosca premiered in Rome on January 14, 1900. It is one of the world’s most popular operas, and was a hit with audiences from its first performance. Puccini began working on the opera in 1896, after the completion of La Bohème, and after three years of difficult collaboration the opera was ready for production. SYNOPSIS: Rome, 1800. Angelotti, an escaped prisoner, takes refuge in a Church, and the painter Mario Cavaradossi decides to aid his escape by to conveying him through a secret passage. Cavaradossi is interrupted by his sweetheart, Floria Tosca, a singer, whose suspicions have been aroused by the closed door. Eventually she leaves, and cannon fire announces that Angelotti’s escape has become known. He arrays himself in feminine garments, and the pair escape just as a crowd pours into the church, headed by the wicked Police Chief Scarpia. Scarpia is determined to make Tosca his mistress, and decides to rid himself of his rival Cavaradossi by bringing him to execution for shielding a State prisoner. Scarpia’s attendant follows Tosca, and Cavaradossi is found and brought to the Palace. Scarpia offers to release Cavaradossi from torture if Tosca reveals the hiding-place of Angelotti, and – eventually – she submits. Cavaradossi faces execution, but Scarpia offers to save him if Tosca will become his. The despairing Tosca consents. Scarpia declares that a mock execution will take place. Tosca stabs Scarpia, and informs Cavaradossi of the ‘mock’ execution. Unfortunately, Scarpia had only pretended to give the promised instructions to his attendants, and Cavaradossi is executed. With the police hot on her trail, Tosca rushes to the parapet of the tower and throws herself off in despair.