Puccini’s masterful work of musical theatre is finally on the stage of the fascinating 2000-year-old Pula Arena! Experience the arias Recondita armonia, Vissi d’arte, E lucevan le stelle, Te Deum and Tosca and Cavadarossi’s final duet in the setting of this Roman structure that was once a battlefield, a place where parades and gladatorial fights were held, where rebels were captured, tortured, and publicly condemed by cruel rulers. Is there a more appropriate place for this opera, a political thriller about love, lust, jealousy, torture, betrayal, intrigue and an incorruptible woman?
Puccini’s Tosca is an opera in three acts, rich in music of passionate and dramatic accents that vividly illustrate every thought, feeling and mood. In a world of intolerance and the tyranny of the powerful, a woman who lives for love and art takes the initiative and decides on unconditional freedom, freedom that is both personal and artistic as well as political. The soloists are led by the sensational Maida Hundeling as Tosca, Dimitris Paksoglou full of Mediterranean passion as Cavadarossi and the devilish Giorgio Surian as Scarpia.
Angelotti, a political prisoner who has escaped from Castel Sant’Angelo, rushes into the Roman Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle and hides in a side chapel. The painter Mario Cavaradossi works there on the altar painting of Mary Magdalene. Observing the blue eyes on the portrait he compares them to Tosca’s dark eyes and sings a hymn to her beauty, causing thus the indignation of the pious sacristan.
When Angelotti sneaks out from the chapel, Cavaradossi recognises him and promises help. They are interrupted by the voice of Mario’s lover, Floria Tosca, who jealously asks whose voice was it that she also heard, reminding him of their rendezvous that evening. Tosca recognises the beautiful Marchesa Attavanti in the altar portrait of Magdalene and accuses Mario of being unfaithful, however, he manages to assure her of his love. She leaves. When Angelotti comes out of his hiding, a cannon from Castel Sant’Angelo signals that his escape has been discovered. He and Cavaradossi flee to the painter’s house. The sacristan returns joyfully to the church announcing that Napoleon has finally been defeated in Italy, thus the Te Deum is prepared, while in the evening a cantata will be sung with the famous Floria Tosca.
The general excitement is cut short by the entrance of Scarpia, chief of police, who, accompanied by his henchman Spoletta, orders that the church and its surroundings be searched. He finds a trace of Angelotti in the chapel, namely the lady’s fan that his sister, the Marchesa Attavanti, has lost. When Tosca returns looking for Mario, Scarpia shows her the fan. This confirms Tosca’s suspicions about Mario’s infidelity, and she runs off in a rage. Scarpia orders his men to have her followed. A Te Deum begins in the church celebrating the victory against Napoleon.
Scarpia has dinner in Palazzo Farnese, thinking of having Tosca in his power now. Spoletta has not found Angelotti in Cavaradossi’s villa, but he brings the painter. Cavaradossi protests because of his arrest and denies having anything to do with Angelotti’s escape. Scarpia interrogates the painter. Mario is enchanted by Tosca’s singing that can be heard. She appears just as Mario is being taken to another room to be tortured. Tosca is frightened by Scarpia’s questions and reveals Angelotti’s hiding place, namely, the well of Cavaradossi’s garden. The hardly conscious painter angrily confronts Tosca.
The officer Sciarrone announces to Scarpia that Napoleon has won at Marengo after all, having defeated their troops. Cavaradossi defiantly sings a revolutionary song. Scarpia arrests him now as guilty of high treason and orders him to be executed. Scarpia suggests to Tosca that he will let Cavaradossi go free if she gives herself to him. Fighting the violent Scarpia off, Tosca declares she has dedicated her life to art and love. Angelotti has been found in the villa, but he committed suicide before his arrest.
Being in a hopeless situation, Tosca accepts to give herself to Scarpia, insisting on some conditions. Mario must be set free immediately. Scarpia says the sentence must be carried out, however, he orders a mock execution of Cavaradossi, after which Tosca is to be allowed to take him away in secret. Tosca also asks Scarpia to sign papers, a pass that will grant the lovers a safe passage across the Roman border. While Scarpia writes these, Tosca notices a knife on the table. When he wants to hug her triumphantly and make love to her, she readily stabs Scarpia to death, takes the signed pass and flees.
At dawn, Cvaradossi awaits execution on the ramparts of Castel Sant’Angelo. Overcome with emotions, he dictates a farewell letter for Tosca. She comes running and warns him to fake dying as the bullets will be blank. Awaiting the mock execution, they imagine their future in freedom.
When the soldiers fire, Cavaradossi falls. Tosca realizes that he is dead. Scarpia’s promise was false. Heartbroken, Tosca leaps over the fortress parapet to her death.