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Puccini’s ‘Tosca’ stars Anna Netrebko and Argentine tenor Marcelo Álvarez

Tosca is a melodramatic Giacomo Puccini opera about a volatile diva, a sadistic police chief, and an idealistic artist. It is based on Victorien Sardou’s French play La Tosca (1887).

The Italian libretto is by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Tosca premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome in 1900, and at the Metropolitan Opera in 1901.

This most Wagnerian of Puccini’s operas uses the leitmotif of musical signatures to identify characters.

It’s famous arias are:

  • Recondita armonia (Hidden harmony) sung by Cavaradossi in Act 1
  • Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore (I lived for art, I lived for love) sung by Tosca in Act 2
  • E lucevan le stele (And the stars shone) sung by Cavaradossi in Act 3

Tosca Setting

Tosca is a historical opera set in the unstable period just before the formation of Italy from a group of regional powers.

Napoléon Bonaparte invaded in 1796 and took Rome. The French withdrew in 1799 and the Kingdom of Naples took over Rome. Napoleon returned in 1800 and Naples withdrew.

Tosca is set in Rome in the summer of 1800 at a moment of political upheaval with the Neapolitans trying to solidify their control as the French threaten again.

Tosca is set at real places in Rome. The church of Sant’ Andrea della Valle is the setting for Act 1. It is still a church. The Farnese Palace of Act 2 is now the French Embassy. The castle of Sant’Angelo in Act 3 is a famous sightseeing spot in Rome. It was built as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, was later used as a castle and fortress, and is now a museum.

Tosca Characters

  • Cesare Angelotti, a former Bonapartiste consul who is now an escaped political prisoner
  • Marchesa Attavanti, Angelotti’s sister
  • Mario Cavaradossi, a painter
  • Floria Tosca, a singer who is Cavaradossi’s lover
  • Baron Scarpia, chief of the secret police
  • Spoletta, one of Scarpia’s police thugs

Tosca Story

Tosca is a melodramatic opera about a #MeToo moment of betrayal.

Act 1 ~ Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle

Escaped prisoner Angellotti hides in the church. Cavaradossi is working on a painting inspired by Angellotti’s sister Marchesa Attavanti. He promises to help.

Cavaradossi’s lover Tosca arrives and wonders with whom her boyfriend is talking. Recognizing the image of Attavanti, she becomes suspicious.

Cavaradossi and Angellotti flee. Choirboys prepare to sing a hymn.

Chief of police Baron Scarpia arrives looking for Angellotti. Tosca arrives looking for Cavaradossi. Scarpia shows her a fan with the Attavanti crest he has found.

Tosca is devastated thinking she has discovered an infidelity. She leaves looking for vengeance. Scarpia’s men follow her.

Act 2 ~ Palazzo Farnese

Police spy Spoletta brings in Cavaradossi. Scarpia interrogates him.

Tosca enters while her lover Cavaradossi is being tortured. She gives up Angelotti.

Cavaradossi realizes the betrayal. An officer enters to explain that Napoleon has won the day. Scarpia orders Cavaradossi’s execution.

Scarpia offers to spare Cavaradossi if Tosca will just sleep with him. Tosca declares that she has dedicated her life to art and love. She asks for God’s help as Scarpia makes his move. Spoletta bursts in saying that Angelotti killed himself.

Tosca agrees to sleep with Scarpia to save her lover. Scarpia tells Spoletta to stage a mock execution and then free Cavaradossi.

Tosca asks for a letter of safe passage. When Scarpia finishes it, she stabs him with a knife and flees.

Act 3 ~ Castel Sant’Angelo

Cavaradossi is waiting his execution. Tosca appears and explains what has happened. They dream of their future together. Tosca tells her love to fake a convincing death.

The firing squad does its work and leaves. But Cavaradossi is dead. The execution was real. The soldiers try to grab Tosca, but she leaps to her over the castle walls.

Tosca 2017 – 2018

This is Sir David McVicar’s new production. There are Winter and Spring casts.

Winter Cast

Sonya Yoncheva is Tosca (Jennifer Rowley steps in January 12)

Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo is Cavaradossi

Serbian baritone Željko Lučić is Scarpia

American bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi is Sacristan

Emmanuel Villaumen (French) conducts (Gareth Morrell steps in January 18)

Spring Cast

Bulgarian soprano Anna Netrebko is Tosca

Argentine tenor Marcelo Álvarez is Cavaradossi

German baritone Michael Volle is Scarpia

American bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi is Sacristan

Bertrand de Billy (French) conducts

Tosca Performances

The Metropolitan Opera performs Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center fifteen times between December 31, 2017 and May 12, 2018.

December 2017 (Winter Cast)

Sunday, December 31st at 6:30 pm

January 2018

Wednesday, January 3rd at 7:30 pm
Saturday, January 6th at 8 pm

Tuesday, January 9th at 7:30 pm
Friday, January 12th at 8 pm (Jennifer Rowley is Tosca)

Monday, January 15th at 7:30 pm
Thursday, January 18th at 8 pm

Tuesday, January 23rd at 7:30 pm
Saturday, January 27th at 1 pm

April 2018 (Spring Cast)

Saturday, April 21st at 8 pm

Thursday, April 26th at 8 pm

Monday, April 30th at 7:30 pm

May 2018

Friday, May 4th at 8 pm

Tuesday, May 8th at 7:30 pm
Saturday, May 12th at 8 pm

Tosca Tickets

Metropolitan Opera ticket prices vary with demand. Prices go up as an opera nears the end of its run. Buy tickets early in the season to get the best prices. Tickets go on sale to:
  • Patrons and Subscribers on June 15, 2017
  • Guild members (Supporting and above) on June 18, 2017
  • General public, Sunday, June 25, 2017

Metropolitan Opera House box office

Monday – Saturday, 10 am -6 pm Sunday, 12 noon – 6 pm

By Phone

(212) 362-6000 Monday – Saturday, 10 am – 8 pm Sunday, Noon – 6 pm



Rush Tickets

$25 Rush tickets can be purchased at www.metopera.org the day of the show. You can buy two tickets to one performance every seven days. Rush tickets go on sale Monday – Friday at 12 noon Matinees (four hours before curtain) Saturday evenings at 2 pm
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