TOSCA
Giacomo Puccini
APRIL 30 TO MAY 20, 2017

Synopsis

OPERA IN A MINUTE

The passionate opera singer Tosca is in love with the artist Cavaradossi. When Cavaradossi hides Angelotti (an escaped political prisoner), Scarpia, the tyrannical Chief of Police, seeks to execute both men. Tosca makes a deal with Scarpia: to give herself to him to save her lover. With Scarpia’s promise of a fake execution, Tosca stabs him before he can claim his part of the deal. But Tosca is double-crossed and Cavaradossi is actually executed. In despair, she takes her own life.

FULL-LENGTH SYNOPSIS

ACT I

Rome, 1800

Angelotti, the escaped Consul of the Roman Republic, enters the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle. He finds a key and uses it to hide in the Attavanti chapel. The Sacristan enters with the painter Mario Cavaradossi, who resumes painting a fair-haired Mary Magdalene, while dreaming of his dark-haired lover, the opera singer Floria Tosca. When the Sacristan leaves Angelotti emerges. Cavaradossi, his compatriot, recognizes him, but tells him to hide again in the chapel–he has heard the approach of Tosca. Angelotti is weak with hunger and Cavaradossi gives him his lunch.

Entering, Tosca jealously demands to know why the door was locked. Cavaradossi appeases her and they arrange to meet at his home after her evening performance. As she leaves, Tosca angrily recognizes the Marchesa Attavanti in the face of Cavaradossi’s painting of Mary Magdalene. Cavaradossi’s passionate protests finally placate her, but she asks that he paint the eyes dark, like her own. Tosca leaves and Angelotti emerges again, informing Cavaradossi that the Marchesa Attavanti is his sister. Cavaradossi tells him of a hidden path to his villa and of a hiding place halfway down the garden well. They quickly leave when they hear a cannon shot announcing the discovery of Angelotti’s escape from prison.

The Sacristan returns, followed by choirboys and clerics, who are all excited at the news of Napoleon’s defeat. Everyone falls silent at the arrival of Baron Scarpia, the chief of police. The police find the Attavanti chapel gate unlocked. Inside they find a woman’s fan with the Attavanti crest and an empty lunch basket. Scarpia recognizes the Marchesa in the painting. The Sacristan tells him that the artist is Cavaradossi, a suspected traitor and Floria Tosca’s lover.

Tosca returns to the church intending to reluctantly cancel that evening’s assignation with Cavaradossi. She has to sing that evening as the Farnese Palace in celebration of Napoleon’s defeat. Scarpia uses the fan to convince Tosca that her lover is being unfaithful to her. He consoles her as she breaks down. Tosca rushes off to confront her lover. Scarpia orders his men to follow her. As the cardinal’s procession enters the church, Scarpia congratulates himself on the prospect of catching Angelotti, jailing the traitor Cavaradossi and, most importantly, winning the beautiful Tosca.

 

INTERMISSION

ACT II

Scarpia is dining in his apartment in the Farnese Palace. Scarpia gives Sciarrone a letter for Tosca, requesting a meeting after her performance. Alone, Scarpia exults in his plans to conquer Tosca, extolling the merits of violent conquest over romantic love. Spoletta enters, reporting that Angelotti could not be found at Cavaradossi’s villa, but that they have arrested the painter instead. Cavaradossi is brought into the room, but he refuses to answer questions. Tosca enters and, before he is dragged from the room, Cavarodossi warns her to say nothing to Scarpia. Scarpia questions Tosca about her visit to the villa, and when she says nothing, he threatens to torture her lover until one of them tells the truth. Tosca begs for mercy for Cavaradossi, and then, upon hearing an anguished cry from her lover, she tells Scarpia to look in the garden well.

The beaten Cavaradossi is brought out, but rallies to curse Tosca when Scarpia reveals her betrayal. But when Sciarrone enters to tell them that Napoleon has defeated the reactionary forces at Marengo, Cavaradossi scornfully celebrates the victory in Scarpia’s face. Enraged, Scarpia condemns him to death and orders him removed. Alone with Scarpia, Tosca begs for his mercy, asking Scarpia to name is price. He tells her that she is the price: she must submit to his lust. In despair, Tosca wonders why she, who has lived for art and love, is repaid by God with such misery.

Spoletta enters with the news that Angelotti has committed suicide upon his discovery. Tosca agrees to Scarpia’s demands but insists that Cavaradossi be set free at once. Scarpia tells her that he will stage a mock execution, telling Spoletta: “just like Palmieri.” Spoletta nods in understanding and leaves. Tosca insists on a letter of safe conduct. As Scarpia writes the letter, Tosca picks up a knife. As Scarpia rises to seize Tosca, she stabs him, crying “This is Tosca’s kiss!” Standing over the dead Scarpia, she forgives him, and leaves the room, with the safe conduct letter in her hand.

INTERMISSION

ACT III

At the ramparts of Castel Sant’Angelo, a shepherd boy sings in the distance as Cavaradossi is brought out to await his execution. Writing a farewell letter to Tosca, he loses himself in memories of their love. Suddenly Tosca enters, and joyfully shows him the letter of safe conduct. Tosca tells Cavaradossi all, preparing him to pretend to die during the fake execution. They ponder their happy future.

The firing squad enters to lead Cavaradossi to his execution. As the shots are fired, Cavarodossi falls convincingly. Tosca waits for everyone to leave before she approaches him. When Cavaradossi is unresponsive, Tosca realizes Scarpia’s final deceit. Having discovered the murdered corpse of Scarpia, Spoletta and Sciarrone enter to arrest Tosca. Upon seeing them, the griefstricken Tosca runs to the parapet, and jumps to her death, crying, “Scarpia, we meet before God!”


Adrianne Pieczonka as Tosca in Tosca (COC, 2012). Photo: Michael Cooper

 

  PERFORMANCES

  • 04/30/2017 at 2 p.m.
  • 05/04/2017 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/06/2017 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/07/2017 at 2 p.m.
  • 05/09/2017 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/11/2017 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/12/2017 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/14/2017 at 2 p.m.
  • 05/17/2017 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/18/2017 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/19/2017 at 7:30 p.m.
  • 05/20/2017 at 4:30 p.m.

 
Production originally made possible by Delia M. Moog



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