Giacomo Puccini

  • Act I

    50 min.

  • Intemission

    20 min.

  • Act II

    45 min.

  • Intermission

    20 min.

  • Act III

    30 min.

Duration: ca. 3 h

Opera in three acts
Libretto: Luigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa based on the play by Victorien Sardou
World premiere: 14 January 1900, Rome
Premiere of this production: 23 February 2019, Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera
In the original Italian with Polish surtitles

Please note that certain seats in the Gallery may have restricted view of the surtitles.​​

‘In the amorous realm, the desire for suicide is frequent: a trifle provokes it,’ writes Roland Barthes. In Tosca a woman falls to her death once she understands that even though she killed her oppressor, she still has failed to save her lover. Double death is the finale of this love affair entangled in politics. A singer and a painter, love and crime – this dark classic about a woman in love who gets involved in a dangerous power play never ceases to provoke great emotions. Ever since its premiere in 1900, at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome, it has attracted subsequent directors. The heroine prepared to bargain with death for the life of her beloved – who will she turn out to be today? What depths will Barbara Wysocka’s attuned ear uncover in the character of Tosca? The director conquered the audience in 2009 with her daring staging of The Fall of the House of Usher, honoured with the prestigious Polish award Paszport Polityki. Waiting with bated breath for Tosca’s inevitable demise, we will clash with fragments of a world that moves us in its timeliness.



Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera
Władysław Skoraczewski Artos Boys’ Choir


  • Rome in the 1970s, a time of escalating political violence, street clashes between rightists, leftists and riot police, bomb attacks, unexplained murders and kidnappings for ransom.,

    ACT 1

    9 a.m. Mario Cavaradossi, a painter, is working in a historical chapel, renovating a fresco depicting Mary Magdalene. He does not know that Cesare Angelotti, an escaped prisoner, is hiding in the church. The sacristan helps the painter get set up, then leaves. Thinking he is alone, Angelotti steps out and bumps into Cavaradossi, who promises to help him. Just then, however, the painter’s jealous lover, famous singer Floria Tosca, arrives. Cavaradossi hides the fugitive. Seeing the painter’s confusion, Tosca suspects him of cheating on her. Cavaradossi convinces her of his love and sends her away, then he and Angelotti leave the church. 

    11 a.m. The sacristan brings news of the alleged victory of the regime’s troops over the revolutionary forces. Orders are given to prepare for the Te Deum and a special evening concert at which Tosca is to sing. Suddenly Scarpia, Rome’s police prefect, arrives with his men. He searches the church for the runaway; among many traces of Angelotti’s presence he nds a fan belonging to Countess Attavanti, Angelotti’s sister, who most likely helped her brother hide. 

    11:30 a.m. Tosca returns, looking for Cavaradossi, but instead meets Scarpia, who is clearly trying to win her favour and suggests that Cavaradossi is having an affair with Countess Attavanti. This reduces Tosca to rage and despair. When the jealous Tosca runs from the church to have it out with her lover at his villa, Scarpia orders that she be followed. The first act ends with Scarpia’s aria in which he expresses his desire. 

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    ACT 2

    8 p.m. 
    The police headquarters, Palazzo Farnese. Scarpia is thinking about Tosca. Spoletta arrives and gives Scarpia a report on the search at Cavaradossi’s villa: he failed to find the fugitive, but he arrested the painter. In another part of the build- ing, Tosca’s concert begins, broad- cast on television. Cavaradossi is led in – asked about having helped Angelotti, he denies it and points out the lack of any evidence. 

    9 Tosca enters. Cavaradossi is led away for further questioning and torture. Blackmailing Tosca with her lover’s suffering, Scarpia tries to get her to tell him where the prison- er is hiding. Under great pressure, Tosca breaks down and betrays the secret: Cavaradossi hid Angelotti in a well in the garden. Sciarrone, one of Scarpia’s thugs, brings news of the defeat suffered by the regime’s forces. Cavaradossi jeers at Scarpia, rejoicing at his defeat. He is sentenced to death. 

    midnight Tosca is alone with Scarpia, who confesses that he has long been watching her and that she is the object of his desire. The shocked Tosca begs him to release Cavaradossi. But the price is high; the singer ultimately agrees to an arrangement in which, in exchange for Cavaradossi’s life and a pass allowing him to leave Rome, she will give herself to Scarpia. At the culminating point, Tosca kills Scarpia, takes the safe conduct he signed and flees. 



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    ACT 3

    3 a.m.
     Sant’Angelo Castle – the prison where Cavaradossi awaits his execution. The condemned man refuses to meet with a priest, but wants to write a final letter to Tosca. Tosca rushes in. She tells him about killing Scarpia and about an idea that could save her lover’s life: she instructs him how to fall after the ring squad execution which, according to Scarpia’s final order, is to be a hoax. 

    4 a.m. Cavaradossi is taken to the execution site. Tosca watches the preparations for the execution and then the fake death by ring squad. But when she runs, filled with hope, to her beloved, she discovers that Scarpia tricked her and Mario is dead. The police rush in, having discovered Scarpia’s murder. Tosca breaks away from the guards and commits suicide. 


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