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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Il salto di Tosca

Il salto di Tosca by speranzajl
Il salto di Tosca, a photo by speranzajl on Flickr.

CARAVADOSSI -- The influence on Sardou's choice of name for the hero in "La Tosca", Mario Cavaradossi, is the extremely similar name of "Caravadossi", a noble Italian family from Nice, the birthplace of Garibaldi, and at several points in its history unde

Set design for Act 2 of Puccini's opera Tosca (Palazzo Farnese)



La Tosca is a five-act drama by the 19th-century French playwright Victorien Sardou.

It was first performed on 24 November 1887 at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin in Paris, with Sarah Bernhardt in the title role.

Despite negative reviews from the Paris critics at the opening night, it became one of Sardou's most successful plays and was toured by Bernhardt throughout the world in the years following its premiere.

The play itself is no longer performed, but its operatic adaptation, Giacomo Puccini's Tosca, has achieved enduring popularity.

There have been several other adaptations of the play including two for the Japanese theatre and an English burlesque, Tra-La-La Tosca (all of which premiered in the 1890s) as well as several film versions.

La Tosca is set in Rome on 17 June 1800 following Buonaparte's victory in the Battle of Marengo.

The action takes place over an eighteen-hour period, ending at dawn on 18 June 1800.

Its melodramatic plot centers on Floria Tosca, a celebrated opera singer; her lover, Mario Cavaradossi (based on the Caravadossi), an artist and Bonapartist sympathiser; and Baron Scarpia, Rome's ruthless Regent of Police.

By the end of the play, all three are dead.

Scarpia arrests Cavaradossi and sentences him to death in the Castel Sant'Angelo.

He then offers to spare her lover if Tosca will sleep with him.

 She appears to acquiesce, but as soon as Scarpia gives the order for the firing squad to use blanks, she stabs him to death.

On discovering that Cavaradossi's execution had in fact been a real one, Tosca commits suicide by throwing herself from the castle's parapets.

Victorien Sardou's grandfather had served as a surgeon with Napoleon's army in Italy, and Sardou retained a lifelong interest in the French Revolution and the French Revolutionary Wars.

In addition to La Tosca, six of his other plays were set against the events of those times:

-- Monsieur Garat (1860)
-- Les Merveilleuses (1873)
-- Thermidor (1891)
-- Madame Sans-Gêne (1893)
-- Robespierre (1899), and
-- Pamela (1898).

He was known for the historical research which he used to inform his plays and had a private research library of over 80,000 books including Piranesi's etchings of late 18th century Rome, where La Tosca is set.

Sardou wrote La Tosca specifically for Sarah Bernhardt.

She was in her mid-40s by then and France's leading actress.

 In 1883, she had also taken over the lease on the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin, where La Tosca was to premiere.

It was the third play which Sardou had written for her.

Both their first collaboration, Féodora (1882), and their second, Théodora (1884), had been highly successful.[3]

Pierre Berton, who played Baron Scarpia, had been Bernhardt's on and off lover for many years and a frequent stage partner.[4]

The elaborate sets for the production were made by a team of designers and painters who had worked with Sardou before: Auguste Rubé, Philippe Chaperon, Marcel Jambon, Enrico Robecchi, Alfred Lemeunier, and Amable Petit.[5]

The costumes were designed by Théophile Thomas, who also designed Sarah Bernhardt's costumes for Hugo's Ruy Blas, Sardou's Cléopâtre and Théodora, and Barbier's Jeanne d'Arc.[6]

The period leading up to the premiere was not without problems.

As had happened before, once word got out of a new Sardou play, another author would accuse him of plagiarism.

In the 1882 caricature of Sardou (left), one of the signs on the wall states, "Idées des autres" ("Ideas of others") and another, "Bien d'auteur" ("Author's rights").

This time Ernest Daudet (a brother of Alphonse Daudet) made the accusation, claiming that four years earlier, he and Gilbert-Augustin Thierry had written a play,

"Saint Aubin",

which takes place on the day after the Battle of Marengo (roughly the same time-setting as La Tosca) and whose heroine is a celebrated opera singer.[7]

He also claimed that he had read the play to Sarah Bernhardt and Félix Duquesnel, the director of the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin.[8]

Nevertheless, he said he would "graciously permit" Sardou's play to go ahead, and had brought up the issue solely to avoid being accused of plagiarism should Saint-Auban ever be produced.

 Sardou, in turn, issued a robust denial in the French papers.

As the play neared its premiere, Bernhardt discovered to her fury that Sardou had sold the rights for the first American production of the play to the actress Fanny Davenport and threatened to walk out.[9]

Bernhardt was eventually pacified and rehearsals continued.

The Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin was packed for the opening night on 24 November 1887, although many in the audience already knew the ending before the curtain went up.

While journalists were usually invited to dress-rehearsals, they were expected not to publish details of the play before the premiere.

However, the Parisian journal, Gil Blas, had published a complete description of the plot on the morning of 24 November.

Following the premiere, Sardou brought a successful suit for damages against the paper.

At the end of the performance, Pierre Berton (Scarpia) came on stage for the customary presentation of the author to the audience.

As he began his introduction, a large part of the audience interrupted him shouting, "Bernhardt, Bernhardt!"

After three failed attempts, he went backstage and asked Bernhardt to come out.

She refused to do so until Sardou had been introduced.

Berton finally succeeded, after which Bernhardt appeared to thunderous applause and cries of "Vive Sarah!"[11]

Three minor characters in La Tosca are real historical figures: Queen Maria Carolina; Prince Diego Naselli, the Governor of Rome; and the composer, Giovanni Paisiello. However, their treatment in the play is not always historically accurate. On the day the play takes place, Queen Maria Carolina was actually on her way to Austria and staying in Livorno, not Rome. Paisiello was a Neapolitan court composer, but at the time of the play he was under suspicion for anti-Royalist sympathies, making him a highly unlikely candidate for Maria Carolina's gathering in Act 2.[12] According to Deborah Burton, another minor character, Princesse Orlonia, is probably based on Princess Torlonia.[13] Although their names and backgrounds contain historical allusions, the four main protagonists, Cesare Angelotti, Mario Cavaradossi, Floria Tosca, and Baron Scarpia are fictional. Their backgrounds are revealed in the conversations between Angelotti and Cavaradossi in Acts 1 and 3.[14]

Cesare Angelotti had been a wealthy landowner in Naples and defender of the short-lived Neapolitan Republic. When it fell to the British forces and Ferdinand IV was returned as ruler, he fled to Rome where he became one of the Consuls of the equally short lived Roman Republic. He is a wanted man, not only for his revolutionary activities but also for a youthful dalliance in London where he had an eight-day liaison with Emma Hamilton. She had been a prostitute in those days going by the name of Emma Lyon, but by the time of the play she had become the wife of the British Envoy to Naples, William Hamilton, and was a favourite of Queen Maria Carolina. Determined to avoid a scandal, the Queen demanded that he be returned to Naples and hung. He was languishing in Rome's Castel Sant'Angelo, when his sister Giulia, the Marquise Attavanti, helped him to escape. According to historian Susan Vandiver Nicassio, Angelotti was partly based on Liborio Angelucci who had briefly been a Consul of the Roman Republic, although the resemblance in terms of their life histories ends there.[15] Another influence on the choice of surname may have been Nicola Antonio Angeletti (1791–1870), a prominent Italian revolutionary and member of the Carbonari.[16]

Mario Cavaradossi is descended from an old Roman family but was born in France where his father had lived most of his life. The family still had a palazzo on the Piazza di Spagna in Rome and once owned the country villa which Cavaradossi now rents. His father had strong ties with Diderot and d'Alembert, and his mother was a grand-niece of the French philosopher Helvétius. Cavaradossi studied art in Paris with Jacques-Louis David and lived in David's atelier during the French Revolution. When he visited Rome in 1800 to settle his father's estate, he met and fell in love with the celebrated opera singer, Floria Tosca, and decided to prolong his stay. He soon gained a reputation as a free-thinker and Bonapartist. Even his mustache was suspect. Tosca's confessor told her it marked him as a revolutionary. To deflect these suspicions, he offered to do a painting in the church of Sant'Andrea al Quirinale for free. Nicassio has speculated that one of the influences on Sardou's choice of name was the extremely similar name Caravadossi, a noble Italian family from Nice, the birthplace of Garibaldi, and at several points in its history under Italian control. One of the Caravadossi descendants fought in the 19th century Italian Wars of Independence.[17]

Floria Tosca is an orphan from Verona, where she had been found as a child, roaming the hillsides and herding sheep. The Benedictine monks took her in and educated her. The convent organist gave her singing lessons, and by the time she was sixteen, her church performances had made her a local celebrity. The Venetian composer Domenico Cimarosa went to hear her and wanted her to go on stage. The monks opposed this, but after she was presented to the Pope, he too declared that she should become an opera singer. Four years later she made her debut in the title role of Paisiello's Nina and went on to sing at La Scala, La Fenice, and the Teatro San Carlo to great acclaim. When Cavaradossi met her she was singing at the Teatro Argentina in Rome. As soon as her engagement at the theatre was over, she and Cavaradossi planned to leave for Venice where she had a contract to sing at La Fenice. Sardou took a long time to decide on her name and may have finally been influenced by Saint Tosca who is particularly revered in Verona.[18] The 8th century church dedicated to her there is one of the oldest in the Veneto region.

Baron Vitellio Scarpia is from Sicily where he was known for his ruthless law enforcement. When Naples took control of Rome in 1799, he was appointed the city's Regent of Police, and quickly gained a reputation for the cruelty and licentiousness that lay beneath his seemingly courteous exterior. Angelotti characterises him as a religious hypocrite and an "impure satyr" from whom no woman is safe. Before Scarpia set his sights on Floria Tosca, he had tried to force himself on Angelotti's sister, who fled from him in terror. According to Nicassio, Sardou may have chosen his name for its similarity to "Sciarpa", the nickname of Gherardo Curci, a bandit who led irregular troops fighting on behalf of the monarchy in Naples and was made a baron by Ferdinand IV in 1800.[

CharacterOriginal cast
24 November 1887[20]
Floria Tosca, a celebrated opera singerSarah Bernhardt
Mario Cavaradossi, an artist and Tosca's loverCamille Dumény
Baron Vitellio Scarpia, Rome's Regent of PolicePierre Berton
Cesare Angelotti, former Consul of the Roman Republic and a fugitiveRosny
Marquis Attavanti, Neapolitan courtier and Angelotti's brother-in-lawÉmile Francès
Eusèbe, sacristan of Sant'Andrea al QuirinalePierre Lacroix
Vicomte de Trévilhac, a French aristocrat in exileViolet
Capréola, an aristocratJoliet
Trevulce, gentleman companion to the Marquise Giulia AttavantiDeschamps
Spoletta, Captain of the riflemenProsper Étienne Bouyer
Schiarrone, a policemanPiron
Paisiello, the court composerFélicia Mallet
Gennarino, Cavaradossi's manservantSuzanne Seylor (en travesti)
Reine Marie Caroline, Queen of NaplesBauché
Princesse Orlonia, a lady at Marie Caroline's courtMarie Auge
Luciana, Tosca's maidDurand
Ceccho, the caretaker at Cavaradossi's country villaGaspard
Diego Naselli, Prince of Aragon and Governor of RomeDelisle
Huissier (usher)Dumont
Colometti, Scarpia's servantJégu
Procureur fiscal (public prosecutor)Cartereau

La Tosca is set against the background of the French Revolutionary Wars, the establishment of the Roman Republic, and its subsequent fall in 1799 when the French withdrew from Rome.

Following the French withdrawal, Rome was controlled by the Kingdom of Naples, supported by the British and Austrians.

However, the fighting continued elsewhere in Italy.

The French troops had been defeated by the Austrians at the Siege of Genoa on 4 June 1800.

Then on 14 June 1800, three days before the play begins, Napoleon's troops fought the Austrian forces at the Battle of Marengo.

Although out-numbered, the French were ultimately victorious, despite early reports to the contrary.

News of the surprise victory reached
 Rome on 17 June -- 3 days later --
the time setting for the play.

At the church of Sant'Andrea al Quirinale in Rome on the afternoon of 17 June 1800 Gennarino (Cavaradossi's manservant) and Eusebio (the sacristan) discuss Cavaradossi's relationship with Tosca, his Republican and Bonapartist sympathies, and the apparent defeat of the French army at Marengo.

Cavaradossi arrives to work on his painting of Mary Magdalen.

When Gennarino and Eusebio leave, Angelotti, a Republican fugitive who has escaped from the Castel Sant'Angelo emerges from his hiding place in his family's chapel.

His sister, the Marchesa Attavanti, had visited the day before to leave him supplies and women's clothes to disguise himself, including a fan to hide his face.

Cavaradossi recalls seeing a beautiful blond woman in the church the previous day and tells how she inspired his painting.

Tosca arrives and Angelotti quickly returns to his hiding place.

Tosca, who is dark-haired, becomes jealous when she sees Cavaradossi's painting of a blonde woman, but he reassures her of his love.

After she departs, Cavaradossi and Angelotti quickly leave for Cavaradossi's country villa.

Baron Scarpia and his police enter the church searching for Angelotti. Scarpia finds the fan left by the Marquise Attavanti and keeps it.

Worshippers arrive for the Te Deum which has been ordered to give thanks for the French defeat.

At a large chamber in the Farnese Palace on the evening of 17 June 180, at the gambling tables, Vicomte de Trévilhac, Capréola, Trevulce and the Marchese Attavanti (all supporters of the Kingdom of Naples), discuss the French defeat at Genoa earlier that month, their apparent defeat at Marengo, and the disappearance of Angelotti and Cavaradossi.

Princesse Orlonia and other ladies of the court join them.

All discuss the cantata by Paisiello which Floria Tosca will sing later that evening as part of the victory celebrations.

Baron Scarpia arrives and there is further discussion of Angelotti's escape, cut short by the arrival of Tosca.

Queen Marie Caroline enters for the performance of the cantata accompanied by Paisiello, Prince Diego Naselli, courtiers, musicians, Austrian army officers, and monsignors.

She reiterates her demand that Scarpia capture Angelotti and have him hanged.

Scarpia must now find the fugitive's hiding place as quickly as possible.

Hoping to provoke Tosca into leading him to Cavaradossi and Angelotti, he takes her aside and shows her the Marquise Attavanti's fan, intimating that she and Cavaradossi are lovers.

Tosca is overcome with jealousy.

As the cantata performance is about to begin, couriers arrive with a letter announcing that Buonaparte had been victorious at the Battle of Marengo after all.

The Queen faints.

Tosca throws the pages of her score into the air and rushes out with her maid.

Scarpia orders his men to follow her carriage.

At his country villa on the night of 17 June 1800, Cavaradossi tells Angelotti of a chamber in an ancient Roman well on the property where he can hide until he makes his escape.

It had been used by one of Cavaradossi's ancestors when he fled Rome after stabbing a Medici.

Tosca arrives to confront her lover about the fan Scarpia had shown her.

Cavaradossi and Angelotti explain everything and she realizes with horror that she has been duped into leading Scarpia to them.

On hearing the arrival of Scarpia and his men, Angelotti seeks refuge in the well.

Scarpia demands to know where Angelotti is hidden.

When Tosca and Cavardossi refuse to tell, Cavaradossi is taken off to be interrogated by the Procureur and tortured by Scarpia's assistant if he refuses to answer.

Scarpia describes the torture device in great detail to Tosca, who is then made to listen to her lover's screams.

Unable to bear it any longer, she reveals the hiding place, much to Cavaradossi's fury.

Rather than be captured, Angelotti takes poison concealed in his ring.

Scarpia orders his men to take Cavaradossi to the Castel Sant'Angelo for execution and orders Tosca to be brought there as well.

At Scarpia's apartments in the Castel Sant'Angelo in the hours of darkness before the dawn of 18 June 1800, Scarpia is eating supper in a room lit only by two candles and a candelabra on his table.

There is a prayer stool and crucifix in an alcove near his bed.

 He orders Tosca, who has been locked in another room of the castle, to be brought to him.

When she arrives, he tells her that Cavardossi is to be hung at dawn.

He also tells her of his intense attraction to her and offers to spare Cavaradossi if she agrees to have sexual intercourse with him.

Tosca calls him a wild animal and repels his advances in disgust which only serves to increase his desire.

Scarpia then takes her to the window and shows her the scaffold awaiting her lover.

Tosca finally says that she will agree to his terms, but only after she has proof that Cavaradossi will be spared.

Scarpia calls in Spoletta and in front of Tosca instructs him to stage a mock execution by firing squad with blanks in the riflemen's guns.

After Spoletta leaves, Tosca demands that Scarpia also give her a document granting safe conduct out of the Roman States.

As soon as he signs the document and starts to kiss her, she grabs a knife from the supper table and stabs Scarpia to death.

Tosca removes the safe conduct from his hand and starts to leave, but then turns back.

She places the two lighted candles on each side of Scarpia's body and puts the crucifix on his chest before quietly slipping out of the room.

At the chapel at the Castel Sant'Angelo and a platform on the roof of the castle at dawn on 18 June 1800, Spoletta and his men awaken Cavaradossi in the chapel where he is being held to tell him that he has a visitor.

Tosca arrives and rushes into her lover's arms.

She begs his forgiveness for having revealed Angelotti's hiding place, and he in turn asks forgiveness for his anger at the time.

She explains that the execution will only be a mock one and they will be able to escape from Rome.

Spoletta confirms this and leaves to prepare the firing squad.

Alone with Cavaradossi, Tosca tells him that she has killed Scarpia. Spoletta returns to take Cavaradossi to the platform where the firing squad awaits and tells Tosca to remain behind.

After a few minutes, Tosca goes out onto the platform and sees Cavaradossi lying on the ground.

She turns him over and discovers that he is dead.

The bullets were real.

Spoletta reveals that he was in fact following
Scarpia's orders which contained
the coded message to shoot him
"like we shot Count Palmieri".

Distraught at Scarpia's betrayal, Tosca screams "And I cannot even kill him again!"

 At first Spoletta and Schiarrone think she has gone mad, but an officer arrives and confirms that Scarpia has been murdered.

As Spoletta lunges towards her,

Tosca climbs onto the castle parapets and throws herself off.[22]

La Tosca had an opening run in Paris of 200 performances.

Sarah Bernhardt, along with the original Cavaradossi (Camille Dumény) and Baron Scarpia (Pierre Berton), then starred in the London premiere in July 1888 at the Lyceum Theatre.

She would continue to be closely associated with the play until well into the 20th century, touring it around the world from 1889, including performances in Egypt, Turkey, Australia and several countries in South America.


It was during her 1905 tour to Rio de Janeiro that she injured her leg jumping from the parapets in the final scene.

The wound never healed properly and ultimately led to amputation of her leg ten years later, in 1915.


Bernhardt gave the first American performance of La Tosca in the original French at New York's Garden Theater on 5 February 1891 and took the play to many other American cities, aways in performing French, even though on some occasions, the rest of the cast were performing in English.[24]

In Paris, she had revived the play in 1899 to inaugurate the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt where it ran for 57 nights and starred in another major Parisian revival in 1909, six months to the day after Sardou's death.

La Tosca had its US premiere within four months of its Paris opening, performed in English translation with Fanny Davenport in the title role and her husband, Willet Melbourne MacDowell, as Cavaradossi.

The "Davenport Tosca" opened in New York City on 3 March 1888 and inaugurated the luxurious new Broadway Theatre on 41st Street.[25]

Davenport had previously bought the rights to the American premiere of Sardou's Féodora, and had made a fortune from it.

She bought the rights to the American premiere of La Tosca for 100,0000 francs, before it had even premiered in Paris.

As had happened at the Paris premiere, a charge of plagiarism was soon brought.

Maurice Barrymore claimed that his 1884 play, Nadjezda, had been plagiarised by Sardou and sought an injunction to stop Davenport putting on further performances of La Tosca.

According to Barrymore, he had given a copy of his play to Sarah Bernhardt in 1885, and she had then given it to Sardou.

In affidavits read out in court Bernhardt said that she had never seen the play and knew nothing about it, and Sardou said that preliminary material for the play had been in his desk for fifteen years.

In fact, Nadjezda's only resemblance to La Tosca comes from the unholy bargain the heroine makes to save her husband's life, similar to that of Tosca and Baron Scarpia.

As Sardou pointed out in his affidavit, this plot device is a common one and had been notably used by Shakespeare in Measure for Measure.

Davenport herself was in the courtroom on 27 April 1888 when the judge found in her favour.[26]

Following the New York run, she toured the play throughout the US with her company.

Tosca remained in Davenport's repertoire until the end of her career. After her death in 1898, her husband continued to tour the play with Blanche Walsh in the title role.

Other prominent actresses who portrayed Floria Tosca in the play's heyday were the British actresses Fanny Bernard-Beere who performed the role in English at London's Garrick Theatre in 1889 and Ethel Irving who was still playing the role in 1920; the American actress Cora Urquhart Potter who toured the play in Australia and New Zealand; and the Italian actresses, Teresa Boetti Valvassura and Italia Vivanti (a cousin of Eleonora Duse).

After the mid 1920s, revivals of the play became increasingly sporadic.

It was performed in Canada by La Comédie de Montréal in 1941 starring Sita Riddez,[27] and an English version adapted by Norman Ginsbury was broadcast on the BBC Home Service in 1958, but by then the play itself had completely disappeared from the standard theatrical repertoire.

Considered by Jerome Hart to be the most emotional of all Sardou's plays, La Tosca's critical reception was in sharp contrast to that of the opening night audience.

The Parisian critics roundly attacked the play with Francisque Sarcey calling it a "pantomime", as did Jules Lemaître.[29]

 Jules Favre writing in Les Annales politiques et littéraires called it a "vulgar piece, without intrigue, without characters, without morals".[30]

The New York Times correspondent reported the play's resounding success with the audience, but like many commentators of the day, including Favre, largely attributed it to Sarah Bernhardt's powerful performance, noting that there is not much of play, a mere outline at best, made to fit like a glove the talent and personality of Bernhardt who is all and everything, but who should or could complain?

The interest never slackens.

There is enough dialogue and apropos to keep both gratification and amusement entertained, and the story enobles itself magically in the hands of the greatest living actress.[31]

Writing from the perspective of the late 20th century, Nicassio agrees that Bernhardt's performance as a character essentially like herself, a celebrated, amorous, and temperamental diva, was undoubtedly a key factor in the play's success with the Paris audience.

However, she cites other factors which also played a part: the "exotic" Italian setting with sumptuous sets and costumes, the play's ANTi-CLERICAL themes, and a plot glorifying the Bonapartists as the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution approached.[32]

Following the London premiere in 1888, Cecil Howard wrote that the play was even more popular there than it had been in Paris.

Like several critics describing the Paris premiere, he devoted a large part of his review to Bernhardt's performance, which he said held the audience "breathless and rapt", but he had little admiration for Sardou's drama.

As to the play itself, I will only add that it is offensive in its morals, corrupt in its teaching, and revolting in its brutality, and yet everyone who admires acting is bound to see it.

The "unchaste" behaviour of the heroine and the violence and brutality depicted in the play, although relatively mild by modern standards, disturbed not only critics at the time, but also some play-goers.

The audience's reaction to Tosca's suicide at the American premiere caused Fanny Davenport to change the ending in subsequent performances with the firing squad taking aim at Tosca while she grieves over Cavaradossi's lifeless body, an ending also used by Sarah Bernhardt when she performed the play in Fort Worth, Texas in 1892.[24]

William Winter went so far as to warn American women that La Tosca contained scenes which were "not only shocking to the nervous system and grossly offensive to persons of true sensibility, but which might inflict irreparable injury on persons yet unborn."[34]

Several early critics, including Arthur Bingham Walkley and Jules Lemaître, wrote at length on Scarpia's graphic description of Cavaradossi's torture and the sound of his off-stage screams in Act 3, which they considered both gratuitously violent and inartistic.

However, this was not a view shared by Oscar Wilde, who found the torture scene moving in its depiction of "a terrible human tragedy".[35]

George Bernard Shaw intensely disliked all of Sardou's work, and not surprisingly characterised La Tosca, which he saw in London in 1890, as a "clumsily constructed, empty-headed turnip ghost of a cheap shocker", while presciently suggesting that it would make a good opera.[36]

Despite the views of the critics, La Tosca proved to be phenomenally successful.

It ultimately had 3000 performances in France alone,[37] played in theatres all over the world for thirty years, and netted Sardou 500,000 francs.[38]

Sarah Bernhardt's costumes brought Empire silhouette dresses back into style, and the long walking stick she carried in Act 1 became a new fashion accessory.[39]

Both a leopard in a famous New York menagerie and an American race horse were named in honour of the play's heroine, as were numerous dishes, several of them created by the French chef, Auguste Escoffier, a devotee of Bernhardt.[40]

The most famous adaptation of La Tosca was Giacomo Puccini's Italian opera Tosca which premiered in Rome on 14 January 1900 with Hariclea Darclée in the title role and went on to successful premieres in London, Buenos Aires, New York, and Paris.

The Paris premiere at the Opéra-Comique in 1903 was performed in a French translation by Paul Ferrier with Sardou himself taking charge of the rehearsals.[41]

Unlike Sardou's play, Puccini's opera has achieved an enduring popularity.[42]

More than 100 years after its premiere, Tosca ranks sixth in the list of most frequently performed operas worldwide,[43] and has over 100 commercial recordings as well as several film versions (see Tosca discography).

Puccini had seen La Tosca in Italy when Bernhardt toured the play there and asked his publisher, Giulio Ricordi, to negotiate with Sardou for the adaptation rights.[44]

Before Puccini obtained the rights, the composers Alberto Franchetti and Giuseppe Verdi had both expressed interest in turning La Tosca into an opera, although Verdi thought the ending had to be changed.[45]

Puccini's librettists, Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, likewise tried (unsuccessfully) to convince Sardou to accept a new ending, with Tosca going mad rather than committing suicide.[46]

The Sardou ending stayed, but Illica and Giacosa did make several significant changes to the play, primarily to tighten the action.

Earlier, La Tosca had been adapted into an English novel by Arthur D. Hall in 1888,[47] and had two adaptations for traditional Japanese theatre, both performed in 1891.

In the Japanese adaptations, the famed story-teller, Sanyutei Encho, set the work during the period of the 1837 rebellion by Oshio Heihachiro, while Fukuchi Genichiro adapted the play for Kabuki theatre.[48]

There were at least four silent film adaptations.

A hand-coloured version starring Sarah Bernhardt was made in 1906 by Le Film d'Art, a French film company run by André Calmettes and Charles Le Bargy.

Bernhardt was so displeased with her performance that she refused to allow its release and tried to buy up and destroy all the negatives.[49]

Le Bargy and Calmettes then re-filmed the work, this time with Cécile Sorel as Tosca, and released it in 1908.

The Bernhardt version re-surfaced and was released in 1912 by Universal Pictures.

There was also a 1918 version by Paramount Pictures with Pauline Frederick as Tosca.[50]

Only fragments remain of the Italian film made the same year starring Francesca Bertini.[51]

Later films tended to be adaptations of Puccini's opera rather than Sardou's play with the notable exception of Carl Koch's 1941 Italian film Tosca starring Imperio Argentina as Tosca and Rossano Brazzi as Cavaradossi.

Jean Renoir originally worked with Koch on the adaptation, but had to leave Italy at the outbreak of World War II.

The film was released in the US in 1947 as The Story of Tosca.[52]

Shortly after the first London performances of La Tosca, Francis Burnand and the composer Florian Pascal wrote a musical parody of the play entitled Tra-la-la Tosca or The High-Toned Soprano and the Villain Bass.

In their burlesque version, Tosca murders Scarpia in the "Cafe Romano allo Strando", stabbing him with a huge rolled-up restaurant bill and then places one of the dish covers over his face.

Cavaradossi, instead, is executed by a phalanx of photographers.

The show premiered at London's Royalty Theatre in January 1890 and ran for 45 performances, with the critic Cecil Howard pronouncing it one of Burnand's finest efforts.[53]

Burnand had previously parodied Sardou's Féodora as Stage-Doora (1883) and Théodora as The O'Dora (1885), both of which ran at Toole's Theatre in London.[54]

In 2004, Lucio Dalla composed an Italian musical, Tosca, Amore Disperato (Tosca, Desperate Love), based largely on the structure of Puccini's opera, but with elements from Sardou's play.

The setting was updated to modern times with costumes by Giorgio Armani.

Tosca, Amore Disperato continues to be performed in Italy and was broadcast on RAI television in June 2010.[55]

The number of characters is sharply reduced in the opera, and the work shortened to three acts, leaving out much of the political motivations of the protagonists.[15]

In the opera, Angelotti and Cavaradossi already know each other.

In the play, they had never met before, thus allowing considerable scope to explain their histories and backgrounds to each other.

The roles of Tosca's maid and Cavaradossi's two servants were eliminated as were most of the characters in Act 2, although the some of them such as the Marquis Attavanti and Queen Maria Carolina are alluded to in the opera.

The gathering at the Farnese Palace in the presence of Queen Maria Carolina, Act 2 of the play, was eliminated completely.

The setting of Act 2 and the events of Acts 3 and 4 in the play were then combined into the second act of the opera, which involved several significant changes.

Unlike the play, Scarpia shows Tosca the Marquise Attavanti's fan in Act 1, where Puccini's librettists contrive to have her return to the church following the departure of Angelotti and Cavaradossi.

In the opera, both Cavaradossi's interrogation and torture and Scarpia's subsequent murder take place in the Farnese Palace.

In the play, Cavaradossi's interrogation is set at his country house, where he was captured, while Scarpia's murder takes place at his apartment in the Castel Sant'Angelo.

The news of the Austrian defeat at Marengo which formed the climax of Act 2 in Sardou's play does not emerge in the opera until after Cavaradossi has been captured and tortured.

Thus Scarpia is able to listen to Tosca's uninterrupted performance of the cantata (heard in a distant room of the palace).

Early audiences (especially in the United States and Britain) sometimes balked at the realism in Sardou's play, especially Cavaradossi's screams while he is being tortured off-stage.

In Puccini's version, his screams are likewise heard by the audience.

However his death by firing squad is even more explicit, occurring on stage in full view of the audience, rather than off stage as in the play.

Tosca's final words before committing suicide in the play are addressed to Spoletta and his men.

When he vows to send her to join her lover, she cries "J'y vais, canailles!" ("I am going, swine!").

 In the opera, her final words are addressed to Scarpia: "O Scarpia, avanti a Dio!" ("O Scarpia, [we meet] before God!").

The opera also gives Cavaradossi a soliloquy in the final act, "E lucevan le stelle" ("And the stars were shining"), in which he reflects on his past happiness with Tosca and his impending death.

Other relatively minor changes include Puccini's addition of a singing shepherd boy as Cavaradossi awaits his execution and a change of the church in Act 1 from Sardou's Sant'Andrea al Quirinale to Puccini's Sant'Andrea della Valle.

The latter actually has a potential hiding place for Angelotti.

Its Barberini chapel incorporates a shallow chamber separated from the main part of the chapel by a grille.[15]

Jump up ^ Richards (2007) p. 172
Jump up ^ Perusse (November 1981) pp. 743–745
Jump up ^ Hochman (1984) p. 312
Jump up ^ Berton and Woon (1923) pp. 101–104 and passim
Jump up ^ Girardi (2000) p. 9. This group of designers, working in various combinations, created the sets for most of the major opera, ballet, and drama productions in Paris in the second half of the 19th century.
Jump up ^ Joannis (2000) p. 119
Jump up ^ New York Times (18 September 1887) p.1
Jump up ^ Otago Witness (2 December 1887) p. 28
Jump up ^ Otago Witness (6 January 1888) p. 28
Jump up ^ Hart (1913) p. 121; Les Archives théâtrales (December 1887) p. 346
Jump up ^ Clapp and Edgett (1902/1980) p. 272
Jump up ^ Schlickling (2004) pp. 124 and 130
Jump up ^ See Deborah Burton's notes to the English translation of Sardou (1887) Act 2, p. 24
Jump up ^ The characterizations of the four protagonists are based on Sardou (1887) Acts 1 and 3 in the 2004 English translation by Deborah Burton. All quotes are from the Burton translation.
^ Jump up to: a b c Susan Vandiver Nicassio, "Ten Things You Didn't Know about Tosca", University of Chicago Press, based on Nicassio (1999). Retrieved 3 July 2010.
Jump up ^ Nicassio (1999) pp. 35 and 102f
Jump up ^ Nicassio (1999) pp. 67–69
Jump up ^ Burton (1993) pp. 67–86
Jump up ^ Nicassio (1999) pp. 118–119. See also Burton (1993) pp. 67–86
Jump up ^ Original cast members taken from Sardou (1887)
Jump up ^ Nicassio (1999) pp. 2–6 and 169. The synopsis is based on Sardou (1887) in the 2004 English translation by Deborah Burton. All quotes in the synopsis are from the Burton translation.
Jump up ^ Some plot descriptions and early reviews say that Tosca throws herself from the Castel Sant'Angelo into the Tiber River. However, this is physically impossible given the castle's location. Sardou's stage directions simply say: "Elle se lance dans le Vide" ("She throws herself into the emptiness")
Jump up ^ Horne (2003) p. 339
^ Jump up to: a b Jones (2006) p. 70
Jump up ^ New York Times (4 March 1888) p. 5
Jump up ^ The account of the court case is from New York Times (28 April 1888) p. 8. For a description of Barrymore's Nadjezda, see New York Times (13 February 1884) p. 4.
Jump up ^ Montreal Gazette (28 February 1941) p. 3
Jump up ^ Punch (21 July 1888) p. 28
Jump up ^ Hart (1913) p. 97; Lemaître p. 148
Jump up ^ Favre (4 December 1887) p. 361. Quote in the original French: "...cette pièce vulgaire, sans intrigue, sans caractères, sans moeurs."
Jump up ^ New York Times (12 December 1987) p. 2
Jump up ^ Nicassio (1999) pp. 13 and 15
Jump up ^ Howard (1888) pp. 97–98
Jump up ^ Quoted in Savran (2009) p. 229
Jump up ^ See Walkley (1892/2009) pp. 86–91; Lemaître (28 November 1887) pp. 136–148; and Mason (1906/2008) p. 441
Jump up ^ Quoted in Baker (2009)
Jump up ^ Fisher (2005) p. 21
Jump up ^ Richards (2007) p. 172. The equivalent of 500,000 French francs in 1900 was over 1 million US dollars in 2006
Jump up ^ Severa (1995) p. 375; Reading Eagle (11 November 1888)
Jump up ^ See New York Times (15 October 1894) p. 2 and (5 June 1891) p. 3; James (2006) p. 144 and passim. Recipes for Mousseline of salmon à la Tosca and consomme Tosca can be found in Escoffier's A Guide to Modern Cookery. Other dishes included Sorbet Tosca, Tosca Punch, Sole Tosca, and Saddle of veal à la Tosca.
Jump up ^ Carner (1985) p. 12
Jump up ^ Fisher (2005) p. 23
Jump up ^ "Opera Statistics". Operabase. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
Jump up ^ Phillips-Matz, pp. 106–107.
Jump up ^ Carner (1985) p. 14
Jump up ^ Nicassio (1999) pp. 272–274
Jump up ^ Hall (1888)
Jump up ^ Mastrangelo (January 2002) pp. 14–16
Jump up ^ Wynn (2003) p. 193
Jump up ^ Berkeley Daily Gazette (27 May 1918) p. 3
Jump up ^ Amazonas (2004) p. 154
Jump up ^ Durgnat (1974) p. 213; Crowther (19 December 1947)
Jump up ^ Howard (1891) pp. 6–8 (contains a detailed description of the show). See also Stape and Simmons (2007) p. 108
Jump up ^ Adams (1891) pp. 172–173 (contains the lyrics for one of the songs from the show, "I am the Bad Baron Scarpia")
Jump up ^ See Horowitz (31 May 2004); Corriere della Sera (11 December 2009); Il Giornale (3 June 2010); and www.toscamoredisperato.it
Jump up ^ "canaille" can also be translated as "scum".
Adams, William Davenport, A Book of Burlesque, Sketches of English Stage Travestie and Parody, Henry & Co., 1891
Amazonas, Lee "Guerilla Cinematheque Comes of Age: The Pacific Film Archive", Chronicle of the University of California, Spring 2004, pp. 147–159
(Les) Archives théâtrales, December 1887, p. 346
Arthur, George, Sarah Bernhardt (originally published in 1923), Read Books, 2008. ISBN 1-4437-4068-3
Baker, Evan, "Sardou and Sardoodledom, Puccini and Tosca", Programme Notes, San Francisco Opera, 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
Berkeley Daily Gazette, "Pauline Frederick in "La Tosca" Feature at the Strand Theater", 27 May 1918, p. 3. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
Berton, Thérèse Meilhan and Woon, Basil, Sarah Bernhardt as I knew her, Hurst & Blackett, 1923
Burton, Deborah, "The Real Scarpia: Historical Sources for Tosca", The Opera Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1993 pp. 67–86
Carner, Mosco, Giacomo Puccini, Tosca, Cambridge University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-521-29661-7
Clapp, John B. and Edgett, Edwin F., Plays of the Present (originally published in 1902), Ayer Publishing, 1980. ISBN 0-405-08361-0
Corriere della Sera, "La Tosca visionaria e disperata di Dalla arriva al Gran Teatro", 11 December 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
Crowther, Bosley, "Story of Tosca, Italian Film Dealing With Puccini Opera, Opens at Cinema Dante", New York Times, 19 December 1947. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
Durgnat, Raymond Jean Renoir, University of California Press, 1974. ISBN 0-520-02283-1
Favre, Jules, "Causerie Théâtrale", Les Annales politiques et littéraires 4 December 1887
Fisher, Burton, Puccini's Tosca, Opera Journeys Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-9771320-4-8
(Il) Giornale, "Tosca amore disperato Stasera su Raiuno", 3 June 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
Girardi, Michele (ed.), Tosca 1800 1900 2000, Catalogue of the exhibition held at the Museo Nazionale di Villa Guinigi, Lucca, 2–27 February 2000. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
Hall, Arthur D., La Tosca: A novel, Rand, McNally & Company, 1888
Hart, Jerome Alfred, Sardou and the Sardou Plays, J.B.Lippincott, 1913
Horne, Alistair, Seven Ages of Paris, Pan Macmillan, 2003. ISBN 0-330-48864-3
Horowitz, Jason, "Roll Over, Puccini: 'Tosca' Has Been Pumped Up and Plugged In", New York Times, 31 May 2004. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
Howard, Cecil, "La Tosca", The Theatre, Vol. XIL, July–December 1888, pp. 97–98
Howard, Cecil, Dramatic Notes: A Yearbook of the Stage, Hutchinson & Co., 1891
James, Kenneth, Escoffier: The King of Chefs, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006. ISBN 1-85285-526-6
Joannis, Claudette, Sarah Bernhardt: Reine de l'attitude et princesse des gestes, Payot, 2000. ISBN 2-228-89357-9
Jones, Jan, Renegades, Showmen & Angels: A Theatrical History of Fort Worth from 1873–2001, TCU Press, 2006. ISBN 0-87565-318-9
Lemaître, Jules, "Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin: La Tosca, drame en cinq actes de M. Victorien Sardou", 28 November 1887, collected in Jules Lemaître, Impressions de théâtre (2e série), Société française d'imprimerie
Mason, Stuart, Bibliography of Oscar Wilde (originally published in 1906), Read Books, 2008. ISBN 1-4437-2845-4
Mastrangelo, Matilde, "The Meijin Kurabe of Sanyutei Encho: An Original Approach to Western Drama in Japan", The Japan Foundation Newsletter, XXIX/No. 2, January 2002, pp. 14–16. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
Montreal Gazette, "French Company Give Sardou Play", 28 February 1941, p. 3. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
New York Times, "Modjeska in a New Play", 13 February 1884, p. 4. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
New York Times, "Reflections on Sardou's Honesty as an Author", 18 September 1887, p. 1. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
New York Times, "Bernhardt as La Tosca Complete Success of Her Reappearance", 12 December 1887, p. 2
New York Times, "The New Theatre Opened", 4 March 1888, p. 5. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
New York Times, "Miss Davenport Wins; Barrymore's claim to 'La Tosca' Decided Against Him", 28 April 1888, p. 8. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
New York Times, "La Tosca Makes a Record", 5 June 1891, p. 3. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
New York Times, "La Tosca Has Two Cubs", 15 October 1894, p. 2. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
Nicassio, Susan Vandiver, Tosca's Rome: The Play and the Opera in Historical Perspective, University of Chicago Press, 1999. ISBN 0-226-57972-7
Otago Witness, "Notes by Pasquin", Issue 1880, 2 December 1887, p. 28. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
Otago Witness, "Notes by Pasquin", Issue 1885, 6 January 1888, p. 28. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
Perusse, Lyle F., "Tosca and Piranesi", The Musical Times, Vol. 122, No. 1665, November 1981, pp. 743–745
Phillips-Matz, Mary Jane, Puccini: A Biography, Northeastern University Press, 2002. ISBN 1-55553-530-5
Punch, "Sarah La Tosca", Vol. XCIV, 21 July 1888, p. 28.
Reading Eagle, "What the Ladies are Wearing for Fall and Winter", 11 November 1888
Richards, Jeffrey, Sir Henry Irving: A Victorian Actor and His World, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2007. ISBN 1-85285-591-6
Sardou, Victorien, La Tosca, drame en cinq actes, 1887, in annotated English translation by Deborah Burton, 2004: Act I, Act II, Act III, Act IV, Act V. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
Savran, David, Highbrow/Lowdown: Theater, Jazz, and the Making of the New Middle Class, University of Michigan Press, 2009. ISBN 0-472-11692-4
Schickling, Dieter, "Fictional Reality: Musical and Literary Imagery in the Toscas of Sardou and Puccini" in Deborah Burton, Susan Vandiver Nicassio, and Agostino Ziino (eds.), Tosca's Prism: Three Moments of Western Cultural History, Northeastern University Press, 2004. ISBN 1-55553-616-6
Severa, Joan L., Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840–1900, Kent State University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-87338-512-8
Stape, John Henry and Simmons, Allan, "Tosca's Kiss: Sardou, Puccini, and The Secret Agent" in Stape and Simmons (eds.), Rodopi, 2007, pp. 106–116. ISBN 90-420-2176-4
Walkley, Arthur Bingham, Play House Impressions (originally published in 1892), BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2009. ISBN 1-110-57343-X
Wynn, David, Merely Players: The Scripts, iUniverse, 2003. ISBN 0-595-27371-8
External links[edit]
Victorien Sardou: La Tosca – Complete play in the original French on Project Gutenberg
La Tosca at the Internet Archive (scanned books original editions)
Giacomo Puccini: Tosca – Complete libretto of the opera in the original Italian and in English translation by William Beatty-Kingston at the Internet Archive

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=La_Tosca&oldid=566279319"
1887 plays
Plays adapted into films
Plays by Victorien Sardou
Historical plays

Cavaradossi Caravadossi


One of the influences on Sardou's choice of name for the hero role in "La Tosca", "Cavaradossi", was the extremely similar name "Caravadossi", a noble Italian family from Nice, the birthplace of Garibaldi, and at several points in its history under Italian control.

One of the Caravadossi descendants fought in the 19th century Italian Wars of Independence.



La Tosca is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa.

It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900. The work, based on Victorien Sardou's 1887 French-language dramatic play, La Tosca, is a melodramatic piece set in Rome in June 1800, with the Kingdom of Naples's control of Rome threatened by Napoleon's invasion of Italy. It contains depictions of torture, murder and suicide, yet also includes some of Puccini's best-known lyrical arias, and has inspired memorable performances from many of opera's leading singers.
Puccini saw Sardou's play when it was touring Italy in 1889 and, after some vacillation, obtained the rights to turn the work into an opera in 1895. Turning the wordy French play into a succinct Italian opera took four years, during which the composer repeatedly argued with his librettists and publisher. Tosca premiered at a time of unrest in Rome, and its first performance was delayed for a day for fear of disturbances. Despite indifferent reviews from the critics, the opera was an immediate success with the public.
Musically, Tosca is structured as a through-composed work, with arias, recitative, choruses and other elements musically woven into a seamless whole. Puccini used Wagnerian leitmotifs (short musical statements) to identify characters, objects and ideas. While critics have frequently dismissed the opera as a facile melodrama with confusions of plot—musicologist Joseph Kerman famously called it a "shabby little shocker"—the power of its score and the inventiveness of its orchestration have been widely acknowledged. The dramatic force of Tosca and its characters continues to fascinate both performers and audiences, and the work remains one of the most frequently performed operas. Many recordings of the work have been issued, both of studio and live performances.

The French playwright Victorien Sardou wrote more than 70 plays, almost all of them successful, and none of them performed today.[1] In the early 1880s Sardou began a collaboration with the immensely popular actress Sarah Bernhardt, whom he provided with a series of historical melodramas.[2] He reached his greatest glory with the third Bernhardt play, La Tosca, which premiered in Paris on 24 November 1887, and in which she starred throughout Europe.[3] The play was an outstanding success, with more than 3,000 performances in France alone.[4]
Puccini had seen La Tosca at least twice, in Milan and Turin. On 7 May 1889 he wrote to his publisher, Giulio Ricordi, begging him to get Sardou's permission for the work to be made into an opera: "I see in this Tosca the opera I need, with no overblown proportions, no elaborate spectacle, nor will it call for the usual excessive amount of music."[5] Ricordi sent his agent in Paris, Emanuele Muzio, to negotiate with Sardou, who preferred that his play be adapted by a French composer. He complained about the reception La Tosca had received in Italy, particularly in Milan, and also warned that other composers were interested in the piece.[6] Nonetheless, Ricordi reached terms with Sardou, and assigned the librettist Luigi Illica to write a scenario for an adaptation.[7] In 1891, however, Illica advised Puccini against the project, most likely because he felt the play could not be successfully adapted to a musical form.[8] When Sardou expressed his unease at entrusting his most successful work to a relatively new composer whose music he did not like, Puccini took offence. He withdrew from the agreement,[9] which Ricordi then assigned to Alberto Franchetti.[7]
Illica wrote a libretto for Franchetti who, however, was never at ease with the assignment. There are several versions of how Ricordi got Franchetti to surrender the rights so he could recommission Puccini, who had again become interested.[10] By some accounts, Ricordi convinced Franchetti that the work was too violent to be successfully staged. Franchetti family tradition holds that Franchetti gave the work back as a grand gesture, saying, "He has more talent than I do."[7] American scholar Deborah Burton contends that Franchetti gave it up simply because he saw little merit in it and could not feel the music in the play.[7] Franchetti surrendered the rights in May 1895, and in August Puccini signed a contract to resume control of the project.[10]
RoleVoice typePremiere cast, 14 January 1900[11]
(Conductor: Leopoldo Mugnone)[12]
Floria Tosca, a celebrated singersopranoHariclea Darclée
Mario Cavaradossi, a paintertenorEmilio De Marchi
Baron Scarpia, chief of policebaritoneEugenio Giraldoni
Cesare Angelotti, former Consul of the Roman RepublicbassRuggero Galli
A SacristanbaritoneEttore Borelli
Spoletta, a police agenttenorEnrico Giordano
Sciarrone, a gendarmebassGiuseppe Gironi
A JailerbassAristide Parassani
A Shepherd boyaltoAngelo Righi
Soldiers, police agents, altar boys, noblemen and women, townsfolk, artisans

According to the libretto, the action of Tosca occurs in Rome in June 1800.[13] Sardou, in his play, dates it more precisely; La Tosca takes place in the afternoon, evening, and early morning of 17 and 18 June 1800.[14]

Italy had long been divided into a number of small states, with the Pope in Rome ruling the Papal States in central Italy. Following the French Revolution, a French army under Napoleon invaded Italy in 1796, entering Rome almost unopposed on 11 February 1798 and establishing a republic there.[15] This republic was ruled by seven consuls; in the opera this is the former office of Angelotti, whose character may be based on the real-life consul Libero Angelucci.[16] In September 1799 the French, who had protected the republic, withdrew from Rome.[17] As they left, troops of the Kingdom of Naples occupied the city.[18]
In May 1800 Napoleon, by then the unquestioned leader of France, brought his troops across the Alps to Italy once again. On 14 June his army met the Austrian forces at the Battle of Marengo (near Alessandria). Austrian troops were initially successful; by mid-morning they were in control of the field of battle. Their commander, Michael von Melas, sent this news south towards Rome. However, fresh French troops arrived in late afternoon, and Napoleon attacked the tired Austrians. As Melas retreated in disarray with the remains of his army, he sent a second courier south with the revised message.[19] The Neapolitans abandoned Rome,[20] and the city spent the next fourteen years under French domination.[21]

Cesare Angelotti, former consul of the Roman Republic and now an escaped political prisoner, runs into the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle and hides in the Attavanti private chapel – his sister, the Marchesa Attavanti, has left a key to the chapel hidden at the feet of the statue of the Madonna.

The elderly Sacristan enters and begins cleaning.

The Sacristan kneels in prayer as the Angelus sounds.

The painter Mario Cavaradossi arrives to continue work on his picture of Mary Magdalene.

The Sacristan identifies a likeness between the portrait and a blonde-haired woman who has been visiting the church recently (unknown to him, it is Angelotti's sister the Marchesa).

Cavaradossi describes the "hidden harmony" ("Recondita armonia") in the contrast between the blonde beauty of his painting and his dark-haired lover, the singer Floria Tosca.

The Sacristan mumbles his disapproval before leaving.

Angelotti emerges and tells Cavaradossi, an old friend who has republican sympathies, that he is being pursued by the Chief of the Pope's Police, Baron Scarpia.

Cavaradossi promises to assist him after nightfall.

Tosca's voice is heard, calling to Cavaradossi.

Cavaradossi gives Angelotti his basket of food and Angelotti hurriedly returns to his hiding place.

Tosca enters and suspiciously asks Cavaradossi what he has been doing – she thinks that he has been talking to another woman.

 Cavaradossi reassures her and Tosca tries to persuade him to take her to his villa that evening: "Non la sospiri, la nostra casetta" ("Do you not long for our little villa").

She then expresses jealousy over the woman in the painting, whom she recognises as the Marchesa Attavanti. Cavaradossi explains the likeness; he has merely observed the Marchesa at prayer in the church. He reassures Tosca of his fidelity and asks her what eyes could be more beautiful than her own: "Qual'occhio al mondo" ("What eyes in the world"). After Tosca has gone, Angelotti reappears and discusses with the painter his plan to flee disguised as a woman, using clothes left in the chapel by his sister. Cavaradossi gives Angelotti a key to his villa, suggesting that he hide in a disused well in the garden.

The sound of a cannon signals that Angelotti's escape has been discovered. As he and Cavaradossi rapidly leave the church the Sacristan re-enters with choristers, celebrating the news that Napoleon has apparently been defeated at Marengo. The celebrations cease abruptly with the entry of Scarpia, his henchman Spoletta and several police agents, who are searching for Angelotti. They have heard that he has sought refuge in the church. A search is ordered, and the empty food basket and a fan bearing the Attavanti coat of arms are found in the chapel. Scarpia questions the Sacristan, and his suspicions are aroused further when he learns that Cavaradossi has been in the church; Scarpia mistrusts the painter, and believes him complicit in Angelotti's escape. When Tosca arrives looking for her lover, Scarpia artfully arouses her jealous instincts by implying a relationship between the painter and the Marchesa Attavanti. He draws Tosca's attention to the fan and suggests that someone must have surprised the lovers in the chapel. Tosca falls for his deceit; enraged, she rushes off to confront Cavaradossi. Scarpia orders Spoletta and his agents to follow her, assuming she will lead them to Cavaradossi and Angelotti. He privately gloats as he reveals his intentions to possess Tosca and execute Cavaradossi. A procession enters the church singing the Te Deum; exclaiming 'Tosca, you make me forget even God!', Scarpia joins the chorus in the prayer.
Act 2[edit]

Tosca reverently lays a crucifix on Scarpia's body. Photograph of a pre-1914 production at the old Metropolitan Opera House, New York.
Scarpia's apartment in the Palazzo Farnese, that evening
Scarpia, at supper, sends a note to Tosca asking her to come to his apartment. He has been unable to find Angelotti, but has arrested Cavaradossi. As Cavaradossi is brought in and questioned, the voice of Tosca, singing a celebratory cantata in another room in the Palace, can be heard. Cavaradossi denies knowing anything about the escape of Angelotti. Tosca arrives, just in time to see her lover taken to an antechamber to be tortured. He is able to speak briefly with her, telling her to say nothing. Tosca is told by Scarpia that she can save her lover from indescribable pain if she reveals Angelotti's hiding place. She resists, but hearing Cavaradossi's cries of pain, eventually tells Scarpia that Angelotti is in the well in the garden of Cavaradossi's villa.
Scarpia orders the torture of Cavaradossi to cease and the wounded painter is brought back in. He recovers consciousness and, learning of Tosca's betrayal, is furious with her. Sciarrone, a police agent, enters with news of Napoleon's victory at Marengo; Cavaradossi gloats, telling Scarpia that his rule of terror will soon be at an end, before being dragged away by Scarpia's men. Scarpia, left with Tosca, proposes a bargain: if she gives herself to him, Cavaradossi will be freed. She is revolted, and repeatedly rejects his advances. Outside she hears the drums that announce an execution; as Scarpia awaits her decision, she prays to God for help, asking why He has abandoned her: "Vissi d'arte" ("I lived for art"). Scarpia remains adamant despite her pleas. When Spoletta brings news that Angelotti has killed himself, and that everything is in place for Cavaradossi's execution, Tosca, in despair, agrees to submit to Scarpia in return for Cavaradossi's freedom. Scarpia tells his deputy Spoletta to arrange a mock execution, both recalling that it will be "as we did with Count Palmieri".
Following Spoletta's departure, Tosca imposes the further condition that Scarpia provide a safe-conduct out of Rome for herself and her lover. While he is signing the document, Tosca quietly takes a knife from the supper table. As Scarpia triumphantly embraces her, she stabs him, crying "this is Tosca's kiss!". As Scarpia falls dead, she declares that she now forgives him. She removes the safe-conduct from his pocket, lights candles in a gesture of piety and places a crucifix on the body before leaving.
Act 3[edit]
The upper parts of the Castel Sant'Angelo, early the following morning

The Castel Sant'Angelo, (right), scene of the Tosca denouement, as painted in the 18th century
A shepherd boy sings (in Romanesco dialect) "Io de' sospiri" ("I give you sighs") as church bells sound for matins. Cavaradossi is led in by guards and informed that he has one hour to live. He refuses to see a priest, but asks permission to write a letter to Tosca. He begins to write, but is soon overwhelmed by memories: "E lucevan le stelle" ("And the stars shone"). Tosca enters and shows him the safe-conduct. She tells him that she has killed Scarpia and that the imminent execution is a sham: Cavaradossi must feign death, but afterwards they can leave Rome together, before Scarpia's body is discovered. Cavaradossi is amazed at the courage shown by one so gentle and tender: "O dolci mani" ("Oh sweet hands"). The pair ecstatically plan the life they will live away from Rome. Tosca then anxiously instructs Cavaradossi on how to play his part in the mock execution convincingly. She tells him that he will be shot with blanks by the firing squad and instructs him to fall down as if dead. He agrees to act "like Tosca in the theatre".
Cavaradossi is led away, and Tosca watches with increasing impatience as the execution is prepared. The men fire, Cavaradossi falls, and Tosca exclaims "Ecco un artista!" ("What an actor!"). When the soldiers have all left, she hurries towards Cavaradossi, only to find that he is dead; Scarpia has betrayed her. Heartbroken, she clasps his lifeless body and weeps. The voices of Spoletta, Sciarrone and soldiers are heard, indicating that Scarpia's body has been found, and that Tosca is known to have killed him. As Spoletta, Sciarrone and the soldiers rush in, Tosca rises, evades their clutches, and runs to the parapet. Crying "O Scarpia, Avanti a Dio!" ("O Scarpia, we meet before God!"), she hurls herself over the edge to her death.
Adaptation and writing[edit]
Sardou's five-act play La Tosca contains a large amount of dialogue and exposition. While the broad details of the play are present in the opera's plot, the original work contains many more characters and much detail not present in the opera. In the play the lovers are portrayed as though they were French: the character Floria Tosca is closely modelled on Bernhardt's personality, while her lover Cavaradossi, of Roman descent, is born in Paris. Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, the playwright who joined the project to polish the verses, needed not only to cut back the play drastically, but to make the characters' motivations and actions suitable for Italian opera.[22] Giacosa and Puccini repeatedly clashed over the condensation, with Giacosa feeling that Puccini did not really want to complete the project.[23]

Front cover of the original 1899 libretto
The first draft libretto that Illica produced for Puccini resurfaced in 2000 after being lost for many years. It contains considerable differences from the final libretto, relatively minor in the first two acts but much more appreciable in the third, where the description of the Roman dawn that opens the third act is much longer, and Cavaradossi's tragic aria, the eventual "E lucevan le stelle", has different words. The 1896 libretto also offers a different ending, in which Tosca does not die but instead goes mad. In the final scene, she cradles her lover's head in her lap and hallucinates that she and her Mario are on a gondola, and that she is asking the gondolier for silence.[24] Sardou refused to consider this change, insisting that as in the play, Tosca must throw herself from the parapet to her death.[25] Puccini agreed with Sardou, telling him that the mad scene would have the audiences anticipate the ending and start moving towards the cloakrooms. Puccini pressed his librettists hard, and Giacosa issued a series of melodramatic threats to abandon the work.[26] The two librettists were finally able to give Puccini what they hoped was a final version of the libretto in 1898.[27]
Little work was done on the score during 1897, which Puccini devoted mostly to performances of La bohème.[27] The opening page of the autograph Tosca score, containing the motif that would be associated with Scarpia, is dated January 1898.[28] At Puccini's request, Giacosa irritably provided new lyrics for the act 1 love duet. In August, Puccini removed several numbers from the opera, according to his biographer, Mary Jane Phillips-Matz, "cut[ting] Tosca to the bone, leaving three strong characters trapped in an airless, violent, tightly wound melodrama that had little room for lyricism".[29] At the end of the year, Puccini wrote that he was "busting his balls" on the opera.[29]
Puccini asked clerical friends for words for the congregation to mutter at the start of the act 1 Te Deum; when nothing they provided satisfied him, he supplied the words himself.[29] For the Te Deum music, he investigated the melodies to which the hymn was set in Roman churches, and sought to reproduce the cardinal's procession authentically, even to the uniforms of the Swiss Guards.[26] He adapted the music to the exact pitch of the great bell of St. Peter's Basilica,[30] and was equally diligent when writing the music that opens act 3, in which Rome awakens to the sounds of church bells.[30] He journeyed to Rome and went to the Castel Sant'Angelo to measure the sound of matins bells there, as they would be heard from its ramparts.[26] Puccini had bells for the Roman dawn cast to order by four different foundries.[31] This apparently did not have its desired effect, as Illica wrote to Ricordi on the day after the premiere, "the great fuss and the large amount of money for the bells have constituted an additional folly, because it passes completely unnoticed".[32] Nevertheless, the bells provide a source of trouble and expense to opera companies performing Tosca to this day.[25]
In act 2, when Tosca sings offstage the cantata that celebrates the supposed defeat of Napoleon, Puccini was tempted to follow the text of Sardou's play and use the music of Giovanni Paisiello, before finally writing his own imitation of Paisello's style.[33] It was not until 29 September 1899 that Puccini was able to mark the final page of the score as completed. Despite the notation, there was additional work to be done,[34] such as the shepherd boy's song at the start of act 3. Puccini, who always sought to put local colour in his works, wanted that song to be in Roman dialect. The composer asked a friend to have a "good romanesco poet" write some words; eventually the well-known poet and folklorist, Luigi "Giggi" Zanazzo wrote the verse which, after slight modification, was placed in the opera.[34]
In October 1899, Ricordi realized that some of the music for Cavaradossi's act 3 aria, "O dolci mani" was borrowed from music Puccini had cut from his early opera, Edgar and demanded changes. Puccini defended his music as expressive of what Cavaradossi must be feeling at that point, and offered to come to Milan to play and sing act 3 for the publisher.[35] Ricordi was overwhelmed by the completed act 3 prelude, which he received in early November, and softened his views, though he was still not completely happy with the music for "O dolci mani".[36] In any event time was too short before the scheduled January 1900 premiere to make any further changes.[37]
Reception and performance history[edit]

Caruso as Cavaradossi. Passed over for the role at the premiere, he sang it many times subsequently.
By December 1899, Tosca was in rehearsal at the Teatro Costanzi.[38] Because of the Roman setting, Ricordi arranged a Roman premiere for the opera,[26] even though this meant that Arturo Toscanini could not conduct it as Puccini had hoped—Toscanini was fully engaged at La Scala in Milan. Leopoldo Mugnone was appointed to conduct. The accomplished (but temperamental) soprano Hariclea Darclée was selected for the title role; Eugenio Giraldoni, whose father had originated multiple Verdi roles, became the first Scarpia. The young Enrico Caruso had hoped to create Cavaradossi, but was passed over in favour of the more experienced Emilio De Marchi.[38] The performance was to be directed by Nino Vignuzzi, with stage designs by Adolfo Hohenstein.[39]
At the time of the premiere, Italy had experienced political and social unrest for several years. The start of the Holy Year in December 1899 attracted the religious to the city, but also brought threats from anarchists and other anticlericals. Police received warnings of an anarchist bombing of the theatre, and instructed Mugnone (who had survived a theatre bombing in Barcelona),[40] that in an emergency he was to strike up the royal march.[41] The unrest caused the premiere to be postponed by one day, to 14 January.[42]
By 1900, the premiere of a Puccini opera was a national event.[41] Many Roman dignitaries attended, as did Queen Margherita, though she arrived late, after the first act.[40] The Prime Minister of Italy, Luigi Pelloux was present, with several members of his cabinet.[42] A number of Puccini's operatic rivals were there, including Franchetti, Pietro Mascagni, Francesco Cilea and Ildebrando Pizzetti. Shortly after the curtain was raised there was a disturbance in the back of the theatre, caused by latecomers attempting to enter the auditorium, and a shout of "Bring down the curtain!", at which Mugnone stopped the orchestra.[40] A few moments later the opera began again, and proceeded without further disturbance.[40]
The performance, while not quite the triumph that Puccini had hoped for, was generally successful, with numerous encores.[40] Much of the critical and press reaction was lukewarm, often blaming Illica's libretto. In response, Illica condemned Puccini for treating his librettists "like stagehands" and reducing the text to a shadow of its original form.[43] Nevertheless, any public doubts about Tosca soon vanished; the premiere was followed by twenty performances, all given to packed houses.[44]
Subsequent productions[edit]

Antonio Scotti, an early exponent of the role of Scarpia
The Milan premiere at La Scala took place under Toscanini on 17 March 1900. Darclée and Giraldoni reprised their roles; the prominent tenor Giuseppe Borgatti replaced De Marchi as Cavaradossi. The opera was a great success at La Scala, and played to full houses.[45] Puccini travelled to London for the British premiere at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on 11 July, with Milka Ternina and Fernando De Lucia as the doomed lovers and Antonio Scotti as Scarpia. Puccini wrote that Tosca was "[a] complete triumph", and Ricordi's London representative quickly signed a contract to take Tosca to New York. The premiere at the Metropolitan Opera (the "Met") was on 4 February 1901, with De Lucia's replacement by Giuseppe Cremonini the only change from the London cast.[46] For its French premiere at the Opéra-Comique on 13 October 1903, the 72-year-old Sardou took charge of all the action on the stage. Puccini was delighted with the public's reception of the work in Paris, despite adverse comments from critics. The opera was subsequently premiered at venues throughout Europe, the Americas, Australia and the Far East;[47] by the outbreak of war in 1914 it had been performed in more than 50 cities worldwide.[11]
Among the prominent early Toscas was Emmy Destinn, who sang the role regularly in a long-standing partnership with the tenor Enrico Caruso.[48] Maria Jeritza, over many years at the Met and in Vienna, brought her own distinctive style to the role, and was said to be Puccini's ideal Tosca.[49] Jeritza was the first to deliver "Vissi d'arte" from a prone position, having fallen to the stage while eluding the grasp of Scarpia. This was a great success, and Jeritza sang the aria lying down thereafter.[50] Of her successors, opera enthusiasts tend to consider Maria Callas as the supreme interpreter of the role, largely on the basis of her performances at the Royal Opera House in 1964, with Tito Gobbi as Scarpia.[49] This production, by Franco Zeffirelli, remained in continuous use at Covent Garden for more than 40 years until replaced in 2006 by a new staging, which premiered with Angela Gheorghiu. Callas had first sung Tosca at age 18 in a performance given in Greek, in Athens on 27 August 1942.[51] Tosca was also her last on-stage operatic role, in a special charity performance at the Royal Opera House on 7 May 1965.[52]
Among non-traditional productions, in 1996 at La Scala Luca Ronconi used distorted and fractured scenery to represent the twists of fate reflected in the plot.[49] Jonathan Miller, in a 1986 production for the 49th Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, transferred the action to Nazi-occupied Rome in 1944, with Scarpia as head of the fascist police.[53] In Philipp Himmelmann's production on the Lake Stage at the Bregenz Festival in 2007 the act 1 set, designed by Johannes Leiacker, was dominated by a huge Orwellian "Big Brother" eye. The iris opens and closes to reveal surreal scenes beyond the action. This production updates the story to a modern Mafia scenario, with special effects "worthy of a Bond film".[54]
In 1992 a television version of the opera was filmed at the locations prescribed by Puccini, at the times of day at which each act takes place. Featuring Catherine Malfitano, Plácido Domingo and Ruggero Raimondi, the performance was broadcast live throughout Europe.[55] Luciano Pavarotti, who sang Cavaradossi from the late 1970s, appeared in a special performance in Rome on 14 January 2000, to celebrate the opera's centenary with Domingo as conductor. Pavarotti's last stage performance was as Cavaradossi at the Met, on 13 March 2004.[56]
Early Cavaradossis played the part as if the painter believed that he was reprieved, and would survive the "mock" execution. Beniamino Gigli, who performed the role many times in his forty-year operatic career, was one of the first to assume that the painter knows, or strongly suspects, that he will be shot. Gigli wrote in his autobiography: "he is certain that these are their last moments together on earth, and that he is about to die".[57] Domingo, the dominant Cavaradossi of the 1970s and 1980s, concurred, stating in a 1985 interview that he had long played the part that way.[57] Gobbi, who in his later years often directed the opera, commented, "Unlike Floria, Cavaradossi knows that Scarpia never yields, though he pretends to believe in order to delay the pain for Tosca."[57]
Critical reception[edit]
The enduring popularity of Tosca has not been matched by consistent critical enthusiasm. After the premiere, Ippolito Valetta of Nueva antologia wrote, "[Puccini] finds in his palette all colours, all shades; in his hands, the instrumental texture becomes completely supple, the gradations of sonority are innumerable, the blend unfailingly grateful to the ear."[44] However, one critic described act 2 as overly long and wordy; another echoed Illica and Giacosa in stating that the rush of action did not permit enough lyricism, to the great detriment of the music. A third called the opera "three hours of noise".[58]
The critics gave the work a generally kinder reception in London, where The Times called Puccini "a master in the art of poignant expression", and praised the "wonderful skill and sustained power" of the music.[59] In The Musical Times, Puccini's score was admired for its sincerity and "strength of utterance."[60] However, after the 1903 Paris opening, the composer Paul Dukas thought the work lacked cohesion and style, while Gabriel Fauré was offended by "disconcerting vulgarities".[61] More recently the musicologist Joseph Kerman described Tosca as a "shabby little shocker",[62] while the composer Benjamin Britten declared that he was "sickened by the cheapness and emptiness" of Puccini's music.[63] Veteran critic Ernest Newman, while acknowledging the "enormously difficult business of boiling [Sardou's] play down for operatic purposes,"[64] writes that the subtleties of Sardou's original plot are handled "very lamely", so that "much of what happens, and why, is unintelligible to the spectator".[65] Overall, however, Newman delivers a more positive judgement: "[Puccini's] operas are to some extent a mere bundle of tricks, but no one else has performed the same tricks nearly as well".[66] Opera scholar Julian Budden remarks on Puccini's "inept handling of the political element", but still hails the work as "a triumph of pure theatre".[67] Music critic Charles Osborne ascribes Tosca's immense popularity with audiences to the taut effectiveness of its melodramatic plot, the opportunities given to its three leading characters to shine vocally and dramatically, and the presence of two great arias in "Vissi d'arte" and "E lucevan le stelle".[63] The work remains popular today; it was the second-most performed opera in North America in 2008/2009, surpassed only by Puccini's La bohème.[68]
General style[edit]

Original poster, depicting the death of Scarpia, and Tosca's dismissive "E avanti a lui tremava tutta Roma!" (act 2)
By the end of the 19th century the classic form of opera structure, in which arias, duets and other set-piece vocal numbers are interspersed with passages of recitative or dialogue, had been largely abandoned, even in Italy. Operas were "through-composed", with a continuous stream of music which in some cases eliminated all identifiable set-pieces. In what critic Edward Greenfield calls the "Grand Tune" concept, Puccini retains a limited number of set-pieces, distinguished from their musical surroundings by their memorable melodies. Even in the passages linking these "Grand Tunes", Puccini maintains a strong degree of lyricism and only rarely resorts to recitative.[69]
Budden describes Tosca as the most Wagnerian of Puccini's scores, in its use of musical leitmotifs. Unlike Wagner, Puccini does not develop or modify his motifs, nor weave them into the music symphonically, but uses them to refer to characters, objects and ideas, and as reminders within the narrative.[70] The most potent of these motifs is the sequence of three very loud and strident chords which open the opera and which represent the evil character of Scarpia—or perhaps, Charles Osborne proposes, the violent atmosphere that pervades the entire opera.[71] Budden has suggested that Scarpia's tyranny, lechery and lust form "the dynamic engine that ignites the drama".[72] Other motifs identify Tosca herself, the love of Tosca and Cavaradossi, the fugitive Angelotti, the semi-comical character of the sacristan in act 1 and the theme of torture in act 2.[72][73]
Act 1[edit]
The opera begins without any prelude; the opening chords of the Scarpia motif lead immediately to the agitated appearance of Angelotti and the enunciation of the "fugitive" motif. The sacristan's entry, accompanied by his sprightly buffo theme, lifts the mood, as does the generally light-hearted colloquy with Cavaradossi which follows after the latter's entrance. This leads to the first of the "Grand Tunes", Cavaradossi's "Recondita armonia" with its sustained high B flat, accompanied by the sacristan's grumbling counter-melody.[71] The domination, in that aria, of themes which will be repeated in the love duet make it clear that though the painting may incorporate the Marchesa's features, Tosca is the ultimate inspiration of his work.[74] Cavaradossi's dialogue with Angelotti is interrupted by Tosca's arrival, signalled by her motif which incorporates, in Newman's words, "the feline, caressing cadence so characteristic of her."[75] Though Tosca enters violently and suspiciously, the music paints her devotion and serenity. According to Budden, there is no contradiction: Tosca's jealousy is largely a matter of habit, which her lover does not take too seriously.[76]
After Tosca's "Non la sospiri" and the subsequent argument inspired by her jealousy, the sensuous character of the love duet "Qual'occhio" provides what opera writer Burton Fisher describes as "an almost erotic lyricism that has been called pornophony".[77] The brief scene in which the sacristan returns with the choristers to celebrate Napoleon's supposed defeat provides almost the last carefree moments in the opera; after the entrance of Scarpia to his menacing theme, the mood becomes sombre, then steadily darker.[33] As the police chief interrogates the sacristan, the "fugitive" motif recurs three more times, each time more emphatically, signalling Scarpia's success in his investigation.[78] In Scarpia's exchanges with Tosca the sound of tolling bells, interwoven with the orchestra, creates an almost religious atmosphere,[33] for which Puccini draws on music from his then unpublished Mass of 1880.[79] The final scene in the act is a juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane,[73] as Scarpia's lustful reverie is sung alongside the swelling Te Deum chorus. He joins with the chorus in the final statement "Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur" ("Everlasting Father, all the earth worships thee"), before the act ends with a thunderous restatement of the Scarpia motif.[73][80]
Act 2[edit]

Emmy Destinn in the role of Tosca, c. 1910
Fisher has observed that Puccini's was a tragic muse;[77] in the second act of Tosca, according to Newman, he rises to his greatest height as a master of the musical macabre.[81] The act begins quietly, with Scarpia musing on the forthcoming downfall of Angelotti and Cavaradossi, while in the background a gavotte is played in a distant quarter of the Farnese Palace. For this music Puccini adapted a fifteen-year-old student exercise by his late brother, Michele, stating that in this way his brother could live again through him.[82] In the dialogue with Spoletta, the "torture" motif—an "ideogram of suffering", according to Budden—is heard for the first time as a foretaste of what is to come.[33][83] As Cavaradossi is brought in for interrogation, Tosca's voice is heard with the offstage chorus singing a cantata, "[its] suave strains contrast[ing] dramatically with the increasing tension and ever-darkening colour of the stage action".[84] The cantata is most likely the Cantata a Giove, in the literature referred to as a lost work of Puccini's from 1897.[82]
Osborne describes the scenes that follow—Cavaradossi's interrogation, his torture, Scarpia's sadistic tormenting of Tosca—as Puccini's musical equivalent of grand guignol to which Cavaradossi's brief "Vittoria! Vittoria!" on the news of Napoleon's victory gives only partial relief.[85] Scarpia's aria "Già, mi dicon venal" ("Yes, they say I am venal") is closely followed by Tosca's "Vissi d'arte". A lyrical andante based on Tosca's act 1 motif, this is perhaps the opera's best-known aria, yet was regarded by Puccini as a mistake;[86] he considered eliminating it since it held up the action.[87] Fisher calls it "a Job-like prayer questioning God for punishing a woman who has lived unselfishly and righteously".[73] In the act's finale, Newman likens the orchestral turmoil which follows Tosca's stabbing of Scarpia to the sudden outburst after the slow movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.[88] After Tosca's contemptuous "E avanti a lui tremava tutta Roma!" ("All Rome trembled before him"), sung on a middle C♯ monotone [89] (sometimes spoken),[85] the music gradually fades, ending "the most impressively macabre scene in all opera."[90] The final notes in the act are those of the Scarpia motif, softly, in a minor key.[91]
Act 3[edit]

The execution of Cavaradossi at the end of act 3. Soldiers fire, as Tosca looks away. Photograph of a pre-1914 production by the Metropolitan Opera.
The third act's tranquil beginning provides a brief respite from the drama. An introductory 16-bar theme for the horns will later be sung by Cavaradossi and Tosca in their final duet. The orchestral prelude which follows portrays the Roman dawn; the pastoral aura is accentuated by the shepherd boy's song, and the sounds of sheep bells and church bells, the authenticity of the latter validated by Puccini's early morning visits to Rome.[77][85] Themes reminiscent of Scarpia, Tosca and Cavaradossi emerge in the music, which changes tone as the drama resumes with Cavaradossi's entrance, to an orchestral statement of what becomes the melody of his aria "E lucevan le stelle".[85] This is a farewell to love and life, "an anguished lament and grief built around the words 'muoio disperato' (I die in despair)".[92] Puccini insisted on the inclusion of these words, and later stated that admirers of the aria had treble cause to be grateful to him: for composing the music, for having the lyrics written, and "for declining expert advice to throw the result in the waste-paper basket".[93] The lovers' final duet "Amaro sol per te", which concludes with the act's opening horn music, did not equate with Ricordi's idea of a transcendental love duet which would be a fitting climax to the opera. Puccini justified his musical treatment by citing Tosca's preoccupation with teaching Cavaradossi to feign death.[70]
In the execution scene which follows, a theme emerges, the incessant repetition of which reminded Newman of the Transformation Music which separates the two parts of act 1 in Wagner's Parsifal.[94] In the final bars, as Tosca evades Spoletta and leaps to her death, the theme of "E lucevan le stelle" is played tutta forze (as loudly as possible). This choice of ending has been strongly criticised by analysts, mainly because of its specific association with Cavaradossi rather than Tosca.[67] Joseph Kerman mocked the final music, "Tosca leaps, and the orchestra screams the first thing that comes into its head."[95] Budden, however, argues that it is entirely logical to end this dark opera on its blackest theme.[67] According to historian and former opera singer Susan Vandiver Nicassio: "The conflict between the verbal and the musical clues gives the end of the opera a twist of controversy that, barring some unexpected discovery among Puccini's papers, can never truly be resolved."[95]
List of arias and set numbers[edit]
"Recondita armonia"

Enrico Caruso, 1907

Act 1 finale

Pasquale Amato, as Scarpia, performs the act 1 finale with the Metropolitan Opera chorus, in this 1914 recording for the Victor Talking Machine Company. (From "Tre sbirri, una carrozza" to the end of the act.)

"Vissi d'arte"

Emmy Destinn, 1914

"E lucevan le stelle"

Leo Slezak in 1913 for Edison Records

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First linesPerformed by
Act 1
"Recondita armonia"
("Hidden harmony")Cavaradossi
"Non la sospiri, la nostra casetta"
("Do you not long for our little house")Tosca, Cavaradossi
("What eyes in the world")Cavaradossi, Tosca
"Va, Tosca!"
("Go, Tosca!")Scarpia, Chorus
Te Deum laudamus
("We praise thee, O God")Scarpia, Chorus
Act 2
"Ha più forte sapore"
("For myself the violent conquest")Scarpia
"Vittoria! Vittoria!"
("Victory! Victory!")Cavaradossi
"Già, mi dicon venal"
("Yes, they say that I am venal")Scarpia
"Vissi d'arte"
("I lived for art, I lived for love")Tosca
Act 3
"Io de' sospiri"
("I give you sighs")Voice of a shepherd boy
"E lucevan le stelle"
("And the stars shone")Cavaradossi
"O dolci mani"
("Oh, sweet hands")Cavaradossi
"Amaro sol per te m'era il morire"
("Only for you did death taste bitter for me")Cavaradossi, Tosca

Further information: Tosca discography
The first complete Tosca recording was made in 1919, using the pre-microphone acoustic process. The conductor, Carlo Sabajno, had been the Gramophone Company's house conductor since 1904; he had made recordings of Verdi's Ernani and Rigoletto before tackling Tosca with a young and largely unknown cast.[96] In 1929 Sabajno recorded the opera again, with the orchestra and chorus of the Teatro alla Scala and with star names Carmen Melis and Apollo Granforte in the roles of Tosca and Scarpia.[97] In 1938 HMV secured the services of the renowned tenor Beniamino Gigli for a "practically complete" recording that extended over 14 double-sided shellac discs.[98]
In the post-war period, following the invention of long-playing records, Tosca recordings were dominated by Maria Callas. The earliest of her recordings in the role were of two live performances in Mexico City, in 1950 and 1952.[99] In 1953, with conductor Victor de Sabata and the La Scala forces, she made the recording which for decades has been considered the best of all the recorded performances of the opera.[100][101] Callas made several more recordings, mainly of live stage performances, the last in 1965.[99] The first stereo recording of the opera was made in 1959, with Francesco Molinari-Pradelli conducting the Santa Cecilia orchestra and chorus with Renata Tebaldi as Tosca and Mario Del Monaco as Cavaradossi.[102] Herbert von Karajan's acclaimed performance with the Vienna State Opera was in 1963, with Leontyne Price, Giuseppe Di Stefano and Giuseppe Taddei in the leading roles.[100]
The 1970s and 1980s saw a proliferation of recordings, many of live performances. Plácido Domingo first recorded Cavaradossi in 1973, and continued to do so at regular intervals until 1994. In 1976 he was joined by his son, Plácido Domingo Jr., who sang the shepherd boy's song in a British recording with the New Philharmonia Orchestra. More recent commended recordings have included Antonio Pappano's 2000 Royal Opera House version with Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna and Ruggero Raimondi.[100] Recordings of Tosca in languages other than Italian are rare but not unknown; over the years versions in French, German, Spanish, Hungarian and Russian have been issued.[99] An admired English language version was released in 1995 in which David Parry led the Philharmonia Orchestra and a largely British cast.[103] Since the late 1990s numerous video recordings of the opera have been issued on DVD and Blu-ray disc (BD). These include recent productions and remastered versions of historic performances.[104]
Editions and amendments[edit]
The orchestral score of Tosca was published in late 1899 by Casa Ricordi. In contrast to his other operas, Puccini appeared to be satisfied with his initial score, which remained relatively unchanged in the 1909 edition prepared by Osbourne McConachy.[105] An unamended edition was published by Dover Press in 1991.[106]
The 1909 score contains a number of minor changes from the autograph score. Some are changes of phrase: Cavaradossi's reply to the sacristan when he asks if the painter is doing penance is changed from "Pranzai"[107] ("I have eaten.") to "Fame non ho" ("I am not hungry."), which William Ashbrook states, in his study of Puccini's operas, accentuates the class distinction between the two. When Tosca comforts Cavaradossi after the torture scene, she now tells him, "Ma il giusto Iddio lo punirá" ("But a just God will punish him" [Scarpia]); formerly she stated, "Ma il sozzo sbirro lo pagherà" ("But the filthy cop will pay for it."). Other changes are in the music; when Tosca demands the price for Cavaradossi's freedom ("Il prezzo!"), her music is changed to eliminate an octave leap, allowing her more opportunity to express her contempt and loathing of Scarpia in a passage which is now near the middle of the soprano vocal range.[108] A remnant of a "Latin Hymn" sung by Tosca and Cavaradossi in act 3 survived into the first published score and libretto, but is not in later versions.[109] According to Ashbrook, the most surprising change is where, after Tosca discovers the truth about the "mock" execution and exclaims "Finire così? Finire così?" ("To end like this? To end like this?"), she was to sing a five-bar fragment to the melody of "E lucevan le stelle". Ashbrook applauds Puccini for deleting the section from a point in the work where delay is almost unendurable as events rush to their conclusion. He also points out that the orchestra's recalling "E lucevan le stelle" in the final notes would seem less incongruous if it was meant to underscore Tosca's and Cavaradossi's love for each other, rather than being simply a melody which Tosca never hears.[110]
Jump up ^ Nicassio, p. 11
Jump up ^ Nicassio, pp. 12–13
Jump up ^ Budden, p. 181
Jump up ^ Fisher, p. 21
Jump up ^ Phillips-Matz, pp. 106–107
Jump up ^ Philips-Matz, pp. 107–108
^ Jump up to: a b c d Phillips-Matz, p. 109
Jump up ^ Budden, pp. 182–183
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Jump up ^ Forbes, Elizabeth (7 September 2007). "Luciano Pavarotti (Obituary)". The Independent. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
^ Jump up to: a b c Nicassio, pp. 241–242
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Jump up ^ In the first edition the line was recited later, on the D♯ before rehearsal 65. See Apendix2g (Ricordi 1995, p. LXIV)
Jump up ^ Newman, p. 245
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Jump up ^ "Complete Recordings of Two Puccini Operas: Tosca and Turandot". Gramophone (London: Haymarket): p. 23. December 1938. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
^ Jump up to: a b c "There are 250 recordings of Tosca by Giacomo Puccini on file". Operadis. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
^ Jump up to: a b c Roberts, pp. 761–762
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Ashbrook, William (1985). The Operas of Puccini. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-9309-6.
Budden, Julian (2002). Puccini: His Life and Works (paperback ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-226-57971-9.
Burton, Deborah; Nicassio, Susan Vandiver; Züno, Agostino, eds. (2004). Tosca's Prism: Three Moments of Western Cultural History. Boston: Northeastern University Press. ISBN 978-1-55553-616-9.
Fisher, Burton D., ed. (2005). Opera Classics Library Presents Tosca (revised ed.). Boca Raton, Florida: Opera Journeys Publishing. ISBN 978-1-930841-41-3.
Girardi, Michele (2000). Puccini: His International Art. Chicago: Chicago University Press. ISBN 978-0-226-29757-6.
Greenfeld, Howard (1980). Puccini. London: Robert Hale. ISBN 978-0-7091-9368-5.
Greenfield, Edward (1958). Puccini: Keeper of the Seal. London: Arrow Books.
Greenfield, Edward; March, Ivan; Layton, Robert, eds. (1993). The Penguin Guide to Opera on Compact Discs. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-046957-8.
Kerman, Joseph (2005). Opera as Drama. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24692-8.  (Note: this book was first published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1956)
Neef, Sigrid, ed. (2000). Opera: Composers, Works, Performers (English ed.). Cologne: Könemann. ISBN 978-3-8290-3571-2.
Newman, Ernest (1954). More Opera Nights. London: Putnam.
Nicassio, Susan Vandiver (2002). Tosca's Rome: The Play and the Opera in Historical Context (paperback ed.). Oxford: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-19-517974-3.
Osborne, Charles (1990). The Complete Operas of Puccini. London: Victor Gollancz. ISBN 978-0-575-04868-3.
Petsalēs-Diomēdēs, N. (2001). The Unknown Callas: The Greek Years. Cleckheaton (UK): Amadeus Press. ISBN 978-1-57467-059-2.
Phillips-Matz, Mary Jane (2002). Puccini: A Biography. Boston: Northeastern University Press. ISBN 978-1-55553-530-8.
Roberts, David, ed. (2005). The Classic Good CD & DVD Guide 2006. London: Haymarket. ISBN 978-0-86024-972-6.
Further reading[edit]
Gruber, Paul, ed. (2003). The Metropolitan Opera Guide to Recorded Opera. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-03444-8.
External links[edit]
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tosca.

Tosca: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
Full piano score with notes
Susan Vandiver Nicassio: Ten Things You Didn't Know about Tosca
Giacomo Puccini

OperasLe Villi (1884)
Edgar (1889)
Manon Lescaut (1893)
La bohème (1896)
Tosca (1900)
Madama Butterfly (1904)
La fanciulla del West (1910)
La rondine (1917)
Il trittico
Il tabarro
Suor Angelica
Gianni Schicchi (1918)
Turandot (1924)

Other worksMessa di Gloria (1880)

FamilyGiacomo Puccini (great great grandfather)
Domenico Puccini (grandfather)


Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tosca&oldid=580958862"
Operas by Giacomo Puccini
Verismo operas
Italian-language operas
1900 operas
Operas set in Italy
Operas based on plays