Tosca

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Synopsis

 

Act 1
A group of tourists comes to the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle. When their guide tries to call them to convene, she notices an elegant lady and to her surprise she recognizes her as the opera diva Maria Callas. Surprised tourists salute the famous singer, only a young couple breaks off from the group and goes away minding just themselves. Maria looks at them and before her eyes, at the rays of sunlight through the dome of the church, her life intersects with the story of an opera that brought her the greatest fame...

 

Cesare Angelotti, consul of the Roman Republic, escaped from the Castel Sant’Angelo prison. In the church, in the family chapel, his sister hid women’s clothes for him to change into. A sacristan prepares brushes for the painter Cavaradossi, who is working here on a painting of Mary Magdalene. Cavaradossi appears and the sacristan notices that his image resembles the shape of a woman who regularly comes to the church to pray. Cavaradossi nods he saw her too, and impressed by her fervent prayer, he immortalized her in his painting. The sacristan is scandalized, but Cavaradossi argues that each beauty has its own magic and recalls his lover, the singer Floria Tosca. The sacristan exits and appears Angelotti, thinking that the church is empty. He is startled by the presence of the painter, but then recognizes he is an old friend of his. Cavaradossi off ers him help, but Angelotti must hide again as Tosca comes to the church. She heard voices from the inside and suspects that Cavaradossi hides another woman before her. The painter finally manages to get Tosca to leave, but she eventually notices the unfi nished painting and recognizes in it the traits of the Marchesa Attavanti. Cavaradossi reassures her about his love again. Tosca finally leaves. Cavaradossi off ers Angelotti shelter in his villa. Before they leave, a cannon shot signals the discovery of the escape of Angelotti. Cavaradossi decides to accompany his friend. The sacristan convokes acolytes to prepare for the Te Deum to celebrate a victory against Napoleon. The church is raided by police chief Scarpia with his men, looking for fugitive Angelotti. The open chapel, a fan with a sign of the Marchesa Attavanti on it, an empty basket of food intended for Cavaradossi – all these items are evidence affi rming Scarpia’s suspicion that Angelotti was there and who helped him to escape. Tosca is returning to the church. Scarpia decides to use Tosca’s jealousy to fi nd the refugee. With the help of the discovered fan he convinces her that Cavaradossi actually dates Attavanti. Tosca is determined to catch the lovers in the artist’s villa and Scarpia sends his men to follow her. The ceremonial Te Deum begins, but Scarpia’s ideas are concentrated solely on Tosca.

 

Act 2
In the Palazzo Farnese, Scarpia is waiting for his men whom he sent to follow Tosca in the villa of Cavaradossi. Tosca is also in the palace, singing a festive cantata. Scarpia has her invited to his suite. Spoletta comes in to deliver his report: aft er Tosca’s departure they raided the villa but failed to find Angelotti there, so they arrested Cavaradossi at least. Cavaradossi is brought to Scarpia, but denies all  charges. Tosca enters, surprised by his presence. Scarpia orders the painter to be brought away and tries to get information from Tosca. She first denies having found someone else in the villa, but when Scarpia orders Cavaradossi to be tortured, Tosca reveals aft er a while that Angelotti is hidden in the well at the villa. Scarpia has Cavaradossi brought back in and sends Spoletta to the villa. Cavaradossi reproaches Tosca for having betrayed him. A messenger bursts in with news of Napoleon’s victory. Cavaradossi ridicules Scarpia and welcomes freedom! Scarpia indicates that the painter has signed his own death sentence and lets him be taken away. Tosca begs Scarpia to spare Cavaradossi. Scarpia objects that only she can save him – if she gives herself to him, Cavaradossi will be saved. Tosca finally agrees, but wants Cavaradossi to be released immediately. Scarpia, however, insists on a mock execution. He gives orders to Spoletta and writes a safe-conduct. The moment he wants to take his reward, Tosca kills him.

 

Act 3
Cavaradossi awaits his execution at the Castel Sant’Angelo. A sound of church bells is heard. Cavaradossi recalls how happy they once were with Tosca and writes a farewell letter. Tosca arrives, shows him the safe-conduct from Scarpia and confesses that she has killed Scarpia. She tells him about the way his „execution“ is supposed to take place and advises him on how to behave in order to make everything seem credible. They are both are enjoying the upcoming freedom and reassure one another of their love. 

 

At dawn, Cavaradossi is brought before a firing squad on the terrace of the Castel Sant’Angelo. The soldiers fi re and he falls down. When the squad leaves, Tosca runs to him in horror and discovers that Scarpia deceived her: Cavaradossi is dead. Spoletta rushes into the courtyard with men who have already discovered Scarpia’s dead body. Tosca is left with only one way out...

 

Program and cast

London Coliseum

The home of ENO is the London Coliseum in the heart of London’s West End. Conveniently positioned in Theatreland, the theatre is near both Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square and benefits from the proximity of a number of tube stations and Charing Cross national rail station.
 

With the widest stage in London, it is a perfect venue for dance and performing arts companies. The glorious Edwardian architecture and interiors were magnificently restored in 2004, providing a beautiful auditorium and wonderful entertaining spaces throughout the building.  
 

 

HISTORY OF THE COLISEUM

 

The London Coliseum was designed by Frank Matcham for Sir Oswald Stoll with the ambition of being the largest and finest ‘People’s palace of entertainment’ of the age. 
 

Matcham wanted a Theatre of Variety – not a music hall but equally not highbrow entertainment. The resulting programme was a mix of music hall and variety theatre, with one act - a full scale revolving chariot race - requiring the stage to revolve. The theatre’s original slogan was PRO BONO PUBLICO (For the public good). It was opened in 1904 and the inaugural performance was a variety bill on 24 December that year.
 

With 2,359 seats it is the largest theatre in London. It underwent extensive renovations between 2000 and 2004 when an original staircase planned by Frank Matcham was finally put in to his specifications.The theatre changed its name from the London Coliseum to the Coliseum Theatre between 1931 and 1968. During the Second World War, the Coliseum served as a canteen for Air Raid Patrol workers, and Winston Churchill gave a speech from the stage. After 1945 it was mainly used for American musicals before becoming in 1961 a cinema for seven years.  In 1968 it reopened as The London Coliseum, home of Sadler’s Wells Opera. In 1974 Sadler’s Wells became English National Opera and the Company bought the freehold of the building for £12.8 million in 1992. The theatre underwent a complete and detailed restoration from 2000 which was supported by National Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, The National Lottery through Arts Council England, Vernon & Hazel Ellis and a number of generous trust and individual donors to whom we are extremely grateful.The auditorium and other public areas were returned to their original Edwardian decoration and new public spaces were created. The theatre re-opened in 2004.
 

The London Coliseum has the widest proscenium arch in London (55 feet wide and 34 feet high – the stage is 80 feet wide, with a throw of over 115 feet from the stage to the back of the balcony) and was one of the first theatres to have electric lighting. It was built with a revolving stage although this was rarely used which consisted of three concentric rings and was 75 feet cross in total and cost Stoll £70,000. A range of modern features included electric lifts for patrons, a roof garden and an Information Bureau in which physicians or others expecting urgent telephone calls or telegrams could leave their seat numbers and be immediately informed if required.

 

FINDING LONDON COLISEUM

 

Nearest Underground

Charing Cross - 0.2 miles 
Northern Line 
Leicester Square - 0.2 miles 
Northern & Piccadilly Lines 
Covent Garden - 0.3 miles 
Northern & Piccadilly Lines 
Embankment - 0.3 miles 
Bakerloo, Circle, District & Northern Lines
 

Nearest Overground

Charing Cross - 0.2 miles 
Waterloo - 0.8 miles
 

Nearest Buses

3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 53, 77a, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176

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