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Tosca – Puccini 

This thriller is set in Rome 1800 and is based about the time of the Napoleon wars, a time of great political unrest, and features a diva by the name of Floria Tosca and her lover Mario Cavadossi, a painter. Tosca is being hounded by the amorous corrupt chief of police, Baron Scorpio, who is used to getting everything that he wants.

The opera starts in the Attavanti private chapel where Mario is painting a fresco of the Madonna, using a blonde haired woman whom he had seen visiting the church as a model, unknown to him an escaped prisoner is hiding in the chapel – Angelotti, his old friend the former consul of Rome, who is now an escaped political prisoner and brother to the lady that he is using in his fresco.

He makes himself known to Mario and Mario quickly gives him the key to his villa and tells him to hide in a disused well. He hears Floria arriving and Angelotti hides again; Floria, seeing the fresco, (a woman that she knows) accuses Mario of infidelity and he hastily tells her that it is only a woman that he has seen at prayer in the church and she leaves assured of his love for her.  Angelotti reappears and tells Mario he has some of his sister’s old clothes that he will wear to escape – suddenly they hear the cannon sounding which means that his escape from prison has been discovered and he hastens off with Mario to his villa.

The sacristan then arrives, with some of the choir, discussing news that Napoleon has been defeated, they are closely followed by the Chief of police who has been told that Angelotti is hiding in the church and sets his men to searching. He questions the sacristan and he says that he has seen nobody except the artist Mario; a search reveals only an empty food hamper with Mario’s crest on it, and a fan. Tosca arrives to talk to her lover again and Baron Scorpio, his suspicions aroused, plays on her insecurities and shows her the fan saying that the woman must have been in the chapel with Mario.

Tosca is furious and storms from the church, Scorpio tells his men to follow her believing that she will lead them to Angelotti and Mario. He is convinced that he will be able to execute Mario and take Tosca to be his, but she only goes home. So they find and arrest Mario anyway. Scorpio then sends Tosca an invite to his apartment and she sees Mario being dragged to another room for torture to make him reveal where his friend is. He tells Tosca that she can spare Mario the pain if she agrees to reveal Angelotti’s hiding place but she denies knowing, until the screams from the next room break her resolve and she tells Scorpio where he is.

The bloodied Mario is then dragged back in and told that his lover has revealed all. He is devastated by this.  

One of Scorpio’s agents arrives to reveal that the battle at Morrengo has gone wrong and the French are marching on Rome. Mario gloats saying that Scorpio’s days are numbered; Scorpio seizes his chance and orders his men to drag him off to be shot as a traitor. He then turns to Tosca and says that if she gives herself to him she can save his life; she tries to bribe him but to no avail.

One of Scorpio’s guard’s arrives with the news that Angelotti has killed himself but everything is in place for Mario’s execution, Scorpio looks at Tosca and she agrees to give in to his demands. He then gives orders to the guard to hold a mock execution and ensure that the guns have blanks in them, meanwhile giving him a code that he is still to shoot Mario.

Tosca says that he must provide safe exit from Rome for Mario and herself and he writes a pass for them but places it in his pocket. As he goes to embrace Tosca she stabs and kills him, she removes the pass, and rushes to where Mario is due to be executed, still believing that Scorpio was not really going to kill him. She meets up with him just as he is writing a last letter to her and tells him that she has a pass but he must go through with the mock execution and just pretend to fall down dead.

As she runs to him, she realises that they have killed him, just as the soldiers shout that she has killed her lover and now must also die but she manages to evade them and instead throws herself over the parapet to die below.

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