Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa


At her thrilling debut at London’s Royal Opera House, Lianna Haroutounian “seemed to pull forth ever-increasing vocal powers until you thought her heart, or yours, would burst” (The Observer, London). Puccini’s sexually explosive thriller depicts a corrupt police chief who sets his sights on a glamorous singer as he plots to destroy her lover, a politically rebellious painter. Riccardo Frizza, who conducts with “spirit and sensitivity” (San Francisco Chronicle), leads an outstanding cast including the brilliant Brian Jagde, “an uncommonly ardent Cavaradossi, nailing his arias with a robust vocalism” (Chicago Tribune) and Mark Delavan, whose portrayal of the evil Scarpia is “a convincingly staged crescendo of terror” (Opera News).

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Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Approximate running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes including two intermissions

Pre-Opera Talks are free to ticketholders and take place in the Opera House in the Orchestra section, 55 minutes prior to curtain.

San Francisco Opera production

Audio excerpts are from the 2012 performance of Tosca with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Nicola Luisotti.
E lucevan le stelle”/Brian Jagde (Cavaradossi); “Mia gelosa”/Brian Jagde, Patricia Racette (Tosca); “Vissi d’arte”/Patricia Racette; “Recondita armonia”/Brian Jagde; “Ha più forte sapore”/Mark Delavan (Scarpia)


Floria Tosca Lianna Haroutounian *
Mario Cavaradossi Brian Jagde
Baron Scarpia Mark Delavan
Cesare Angelotti Scott Conner
Sacristan Dale Travis
Spoletta Joel Sorensen
Sciarrone Efrain Solis
Jailer Hadleigh Adams

Production Credits

Conductor Riccardo Frizza
Director Jose Maria Condemi
Production Designer Thierry Bosquet
Lighting Designer Gary Marder
Chorus Director Ian Robertson
Fight Director Dave Maier

* San Francisco Opera Debut


Cesare Angelotti, a political prisoner, has just escaped from the jail at Castel Sant'Angelo. He seeks refuge in the Attavanti chapel of the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle and hides at the approach of the Sacristan who is soon followed by the painter Mario Cavaradossi. The Sacristan recites the Angelus while Cavaradossi climbs the scaffold and begins to work on his painting, pausing to admit that his portrait of Mary Magdalene was first inspired not only by an unknown lady who came to pray to the Virgin, but also by his beloved Floria Tosca, a famous opera singer. The scandalized Sacristan leaves. Angelotti comes out of hiding and asks for Cavaradossi's assistance. The painter, thrusting a lunch basket into his hands, urges Angelotti back into the chapel as the voice of Tosca is heard. He hides as Cavaradossi admits Tosca into the church. She demands to know why she was kept waiting, and suspects Cavaradossi of talking to another woman. He reassures her of his love, and the pair agrees to meet that evening at Cavaradossi's villa. With Tosca gone, Angelotti reappears and Cavaradossi vows to save him. A cannon shot is heard announcing that the prisoner’s escape has been discovered. Cavaradossi leaves with the pursued man in order to hide him at his villa. The Sacristan returns and gathers choristers around him, telling them they must rehearse for a special performance of a cantata that evening celebrating a defeat of Napoleon; Tosca will be the soloist. At that moment, the Roman chief of police, Baron Scarpia, arrives searching for Angelotti. His men find the Attavanti chapel open, but all that remains is a fan with the family crest on it and the empty lunch basket. The Sacristan expresses amazement, as earlier he had noticed that the painter had not touched his meal. Scarpia puts two and two together and realizes that Cavaradossi had aided Angelotti's escape. Suddenly Tosca returns and Scarpia uses the fan to convince her that Cavaradossi has fled with another woman, thus awakening jealousy in her. He hopes Tosca will then lead him to Cavaradossi and thus to Angelotti. He orders his spies to follow her as she leaves the church, then joins in the Te Deum, swearing he will capture not only the painter, but Tosca as well.


Scarpia is dining alone in his quarters in the Farnese Palace, anticipating the pleasure of bending Tosca to his will. His henchman Spoletta appears and reports that Tosca has led Scarpia's spies to a remote villa, and though Angelotti was not to be found, they arrested Cavaradossi. The painter is brought in as Tosca's voice is heard from the concert in the courtyard below. Scarpia summons Tosca and she is shocked to see Cavaradossi who quietly warns her to reveal nothing about Angelotti. Scarpia tries to get the location of Angelotti's hiding place from her, but she insists that she knows nothing. As Cavaradossi is tortured in the next room, she reveals the secret and asks Scarpia for Cavaradossi's freedom in return. Scarpia has Cavaradossi brought back in. Delirious from torture, Cavaradossi hears Scarpia order his men to the villa, curses Tosca, and cries defiance at the tyranny of Scarpia and the foreign oppressors he represents. Word arrives that the earlier report of Napoleon's defeat at Marengo was incorrect. Instead, Napoleon was the victor. Cavaradossi cries out with joy and is dragged from the room to prison. Tosca pleads for her lover's life, and Scarpia offers her an exchange: if she will give herself to him, he will give Cavaradossi back to her. In despair she pleads for mercy, protesting that she has never done anything to deserve being faced with such a terrible choice, but realizes she must agree to the bargain. Scarpia tells Tosca there must be a mock execution and circuitously orders Spoletta to make preparations for a real one. At Tosca’s request, he then writes a safe-conduct pass for her and Cavaradossi and prepares to claim his prize. She grabs a knife from the table and stabs him, then takes the pass and goes to find Cavaradossi.


On the terrace of Castel Sant'Angelo, outside the prison, the voice of a shepherd is heard at dawn while one by one the bells of Rome strike the hour. Cavaradossi is brought in for his execution, which is an hour away. He bribes the jailer with a gold ring for permission to write a farewell letter to Tosca. Left alone, he recalls pleasant memories of times they spent together. She suddenly hurries in, explaining that there is to be a mock execution in which he is to pretend to die. She also tells him about Scarpia's murder and of the safe-conduct pass that will get them out of Rome before the murder is discovered. He can hardly believe the news and looks in wonder at the delicate hands that did so much to save him. The lovers ecstatically plan for the future but are interrupted by the arrival of the soldiers. As the firing squad advances and takes aim, Tosca urges Cavaradossi to fall convincingly. The soldiers fire and Cavaradossi falls. Tosca bids him to wait until they are gone and then asks him to rise and come away with her. She hurries to Cavaradossi and is horrified to discover that the execution was real after all. Distant shouts announce that Scarpia's murder was discovered. As Spoletta, Sciarrone, and the soldiers rush in to seize Tosca, she climbs to the fortress parapet and leaps to her death.
Lianna Haroutounian makes a "phenomenal Company debut.... It was a dramatic depiction of a woman for whom that artistry was essential to her very character."

  –San Francisco Chronicle
“From the opera's opening chords, dark and shivering, the Orchestra performed with clarity and animation.”

  –San Jose Mercury News
"You could listen to Haroutounian singing Puccini’s music all night long, and marvel at the beauty, precision and power that she packed into every measure of the performance."

  –San Francisco Chronicle
Mark Delavan “steps into the criminal's shoes with a suave and laid-back élan, and then erupts with trembling power.”

  –San Jose Mercury News
"Haroutounian's voice is full of character and vitality. Singing with a house-filling long line and seamless phrasing...everyone else needs to sit still and listen."

  –San Francisco Classical Voice
"Brian Jagde was at his finest in the role’s two big arias, rising to well-judged climaxes in Act 1’s 'Recondita armonia' and bringing potency and grace to 'E lucevan le stele.'"

  –San Francisco Chronicle
"Delavan, who has made Scarpia his own, was the evil master of every moment."

  –San Francisco Classical Voice
"'Vissi d’arte,' was delivered with sympathetic ardor — but Haroutounian’s entire performance surrounding it was so gripping... that that number was merely one splendor among many."

  –San Francisco Chronicle
“His Act 3 ‘E lucevan le stelle’ combined great tenderness and biting intensity. Jagde sang his heart out.”

  –San Jose Mercury News
"Delavan dove into his role with a showman’s glee...the vigor and pizzazz with which he bestrode the stage, turned every juncture into an occasion for voracious or sardonic villainy."

  –San Francisco Chronicle
“With dark and luxurious voice, with precision and much soulfulness, Haroutounian delivered a gem, prayerful and heartbreaking.”

  –San Jose Mercury News


  • Thu 10/23/14 7:30pm

  • Sun 10/26/14 2:00pm

  • Sat 11/1/14 7:30pm *

  • Tue 11/4/14 7:30pm *

  • Sat 11/8/14 7:30pm *

*OperaVision, HD video projection screens featured in the Balcony level for this performance, is made possible by the Koret/Taube Media Suite.


This production is made possible, in part, by the Burgess and Elizabeth Jamieson Fund. Riccardo Frizza's appearance made possible by Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem, Chairs, Amici di Nicola of Camerata.

Cast, program, prices and schedule are subject to change.