Tosca

Giacomo Puccini

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, Polish National Opera, Teatr Wielki, Warsaw
In the original Italian with Polish surtitles

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

The piece is equipped with numerous plot twists (as sudden and unexpected turns of events are called in the libretto, these days more commonly referred to as the script) worthy of a classic thriller. Quite rightly so: it is an opera after all, and the protagonists are torn apart by extreme, almost uncontrollable emotions that the audiences drink in. I would like to draw attention to something from a more rational rather than emotional order, namely the act one finale – how perfectly it fits our modern times. Inside the church there are gathered representatives of secular and ecclesiastical authorities, as well as the people of Rome, embodied in a full chorus and children’s chorus. The masses chant out Te Deum, as words of early Christian adoration of God are counterpointed by the sinister lines of the Chief of Police, the wide shot trumping individuality. And suddenly the set transforms: church interior becomes a city square. We have all been thrown out of our good old comfort zones, and what is more – we turn away from authority, like the chorus towards the end of the act. What makes matters even worse, nothing remains of that gesture by the beginning of the second act. Barbara Wysocka relocates Tosca to 1970s Rome. A sign of the times of unrest and pandemics?

Cast

Credits

Synopsis

  • 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 p.pm. 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. 

Sponsors

  • Patrons of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Partners of the Opera Academy

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Media patrons

  • Partner of the event