Historical context[ edit ] La Tosca is set against the background of the French Revolutionary Wars , the establishment of the Roman Republic , and its subsequent fall in 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. Although out-numbered, the French were ultimately victorious, despite early reports to the contrary. News of the surprise victory reached Rome on 17 June, the time setting for the play.
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Historical context[ edit ] La Tosca is set against the background of the French Revolutionary Wars , the establishment of the Roman Republic , and its subsequent fall in 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. Although out-numbered, the French were ultimately victorious, despite early reports to the contrary. News of the surprise victory reached Rome on 17 June, the time setting for the play. Cavaradossi arrives to work on his painting of Mary Magdalen. 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. 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.
Princesse Orlonia and other ladies of the court join them. All discuss the cantata by Paisiello which Tosca will sing later that evening as part of the victory celebrations.
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. Tosca is overcome with jealousy. As the cantata performance is about to begin, couriers arrive with a letter announcing that the French 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. 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. Rather than be captured, Angelotti takes poison concealed in his ring. There is a prayer stool and a 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 Cavaradossi is to be hanged at dawn. He also tells her of his intense attraction to her and offers to spare Cavaradossi if she agrees to sleep 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.
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 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. As Spoletta lunges towards her, Tosca climbs onto the castle parapets and throws herself off. She would continue to be closely associated with the play until well into the 20th century, touring it around the world from , including performances in Egypt, Turkey, Australia and several countries in Latin America. It was during her 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. She bought the rights to the American premiere of La Tosca for , 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 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 , 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.
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 when the judge found in her favour. After her death in , her husband continued to tour the play with Blanche Walsh in the title role. After the mid s, revivals of the play became increasingly sporadic. Reception[ edit ] Pierre Berton as Baron Scarpia in a cartoon from Punch 21 July where his performance in the London premiere of La Tosca was described as "stagey and old-fashioned" in contrast to the naturalness of Sarah Bernhardt.
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. However, this was not a view shared by Oscar Wilde , who found the torture scene moving in its depiction of "a terrible human tragedy". It ultimately had performances in France alone,  played in theatres all over the world for thirty years, and netted Sardou , francs.
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. Hall in ,  and had two adaptations for traditional Japanese theatre , both performed in Bernhardt was so displeased with her performance that she refused to allow its release and tried to buy up and destroy all the negatives.
The Bernhardt version re-surfaced and was released in by Universal Pictures. 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 setting was updated to modern times with costumes by Giorgio Armani.
In the play, they had never met before, thus allowing considerable scope to explain their histories and backgrounds to each other. 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.
The news of the Austrian defeat at Marengo which formed the climax of Act 2 in La Tosca does not emerge in the opera until after Cavaradossi has been captured and tortured. 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. 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.
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.
Cavaradossi fa preparare la sua carrozza per far fuggire Angelotti travestito da donna. Atto II[ modifica modifica wikitesto ] La scena si apre nel bellissimo salone del Palazzo Farnese completamente addobbato e gremito di nobili. Tosca entra nel salone seguita da uno stuolo di corteggiatori. Si intrattiene con gli ospiti e anche con Scarpia, il quale, convinto di un suo coinvolgimento con la fuga del detenuto, suscita in lei un sentimento di gelosia mostrandole il ventaglio della marchesa Attavanti, che dice di aver trovato tra i colori e i pennelli di Cavaradossi in chiesa.