Opera Scotland


Giacomo Puccini (born Lucca, 22 December 1858; died Brussels, 29 November 1924)

Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica

Play La Tosca (1887) by Victorien Sardou (French 1831-1908).

First performance: Rome (Teatro Costanzi), 14 January 1900.
First UK performance: London (Covent Garden), 12 July 1900.
First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (King's Theatre), 18 February 1910.
Scottish Opera première: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 15 October 1980.

Puccini is the only Italian opera composer after Verdi to have established a consistent pattern of producing more than one or two enduringly successful works. His family stretched back several generations as composers of church music, however he decided that his own future lay with opera. For his fourth piece, La Bohème, he at last found a pair of writers willing and able to do as he required, and Bohème and their next two collaborations, Tosca and Madama Butterfly soon became among the most popular works in existence.

Cesare Angelotti, former Consul, now a political prisoner (bass)
A Sacristan (baritone)
Mario Cavaradossi, a painter (tenor)
Floria Tosca, a famous singer (soprano)
Baron Scarpia, Chief of Police (baritone)
Spoletta, a police agent (tenor)
Sciarrone, a police officer (bass)
A Shepherd Boy (treble or alto)
A Gaoler (bass)

Plot Summary
The setting is Rome during the early stages of the Napoleonic wars. Cavaradossi, at work on a painting in the church of Sant Andrea delle Valle, is one of a group of republican sympathisers plotting the escape of Angelotti, one of Scarpia’s prisoners. His jealous lover Tosca is more interested in the model used in the painting, clearly Angelotti’s beautiful sister. The plot succeeds, in so far as Angelotti reaches the church and Cavaradossi takes him away to his villa to hide. Scarpia and his men arrive as a church service is about to start, and, convinced that he will be able to tap her for information, he invites Tosca to supper that evening, since she is scheduled to perform in the Palazzo Farnese – the same building where he works. Later on, in Scarpia’s office, Cavaradossi has been arrested, but he is elated at the news of Napoleon’s latest victory. He is tortured in a neighbouring room, while Scarpia attempts to wrest Angelotti’s hiding place from Tosca. At last she gives in, but news is soon brought that Angelotti has killed himself rather than be captured again. Scarpia attempts to seduce Tosca by promising as reward that she and Cavaradossi may have safe passage out of Rome, but that the painter will be put through a staged false execution first. When Scarpia has written the safe conduct and issued instructions, Tosca stabs him to death. As dawn approaches, Cavaradossi, up on the Castle battlements, contemplates his imminent execution. Tosca arrives and explains the plan. However Scarpia has deceived them, and the execution is not faked. Cavaradossi is killed, and as the troops arrive to hunt for the killer of Scarpia, Tosca leaps from the battlements.

The Cast

Baron Scarpia
 Chief of Police
Cesare Angelotti
 former Consul, now a political prisoner
Floria Tosca
 a famous singer
Mario Cavaradossi
 a painter
 police officer
Shepherd boy
 police agent

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