Sponsored by NEX Group plc
Rome, 1800. The opera singer, Floria Tosca, has two admirers. One is Mario Cavaradossi, a painter - and the man she loves. The other is the Chief of Police, Baron Scarpia, who wants them both: Tosca in his bed and Cavaradossi dead.
The church of Sant'Andrea della Valle
Angelotti has escaped from the Castel Sant'Angelo where he has been a political prisoner. He hopes to hide in the Attavanti chapel and his sister, the Marchesa Attavanti, has left the key at the foot of the Madonna and some clothes as a disguise inside the chapel.
The Sacristan arrives and realises that the painter Mario Cavaradossi is not yet back at work and his food is untouched The Angelus sounds as Cavaradossi arrives. He admits that the portrait he is painting of Mary Magdalene is inspired both by his lover, the singer Floria Tosca, and the Marchesa Attavanti.
Angelotti comes out of the chapel. Cavaradossi is of a like political persuasion and promises to help him when it gets dark. He gives Angelotti his food.
Tosca thinks Cavaradossi has been talking to a secret lover and begs him to take her to his villa. She looks at the portrait and is incensed that it bears a likeness to the Marchesa Attavanti.
Once Tosca has gone Angelotti comes out from hiding. There is a cannon shot announcing that Angelotti's escape has been discovered. Cavaradossi suggests he hide in a disused well in the garden of his villa.
The Sacristan returns with the news - later to be proved false - that the enemy has been defeated at Marengo. To celebrate the victory a Te Deum will be sung and, at the Palazzo Farnese, Floria Tosca will perform.
Scarpia, the brutal Chief of Police, and his agent Spoletta, have tracked Angelotti to the church. They find the food basket and a fan with the Attavanti coat of arms Scarpia suspects that Cavaradossi has assisted Angelotti to escape.
Tosca returns and Scarpia inflames her jealousy by showing her the fan - suggesting that Cavaradossi is having an affair with Marchesa Attavanti. When Tosca leaves, Scarpia sends Spoletta after her, assuming she will lead him to Cavaradossi and, he hopes, Angelotti. To the accompaniment of the celebratory Te Deum, Scarpia anticipates the execution of Cavaradossi and his possession of Tosca.
Scarpia's apartment at the Palazzo Farnese
Scarpia sends Tosca a note demanding she visit him. Spoletta returns. He was unable to find Angelotti but has arrested Cavaradossi. Scarpia questions Cavaradossi but extracts no information. As Tosca arrives, he is taken off to be tortured. Tosca cannot bear his cries of pain and tells Scarpia where Angelotti is hiding. Scarpia stops the torture and the wounded Cavaradossi is brought in. Tosca assures him that she has given nothing away.
When Scarpia orders Spoletta to go to the well in the garden, Cavaradossi curses Tosca. Sciarrone, a police officer, rushes in with the news that the enemy has triumphed at Marengo after all Cavaradossi exults and is dragged struggling from the room.
Tosca is left alone with Scarpia. She pleads for mercy and finally promises to give herself to Scarpia in exchange for Cavaradossi's freedom. Scarpia seems to instruct Spoletta to arrange a mock execution, after which the lovers will be free. He writes out a safe conduct pass for them. Tosca finds a knife and stabs him.
The Castel Sant'Angelo
It is just before dawn; church bells are ringing and a shepherd boy is passing with his flock Cavaradossi is handed over to the gaoler to whom he offers his ring as a bribe so that he can write a final farewell to Tosca. He is overwhelmed by memories of an evening spent with her.
Tosca arrives with the safe conduct pass and tells him that she has killed Scarpia. She explains the plan: the firing squad will use blanks, he must fall to the ground as if dead and remain there until she tells him that everyone has departed.
The firing squad and Spoletta arrive. Cavaradossi refuses to be blindfolded. The soldiers take aim - Cavaradossi falls.
Once the soldiers have gone Tosca rushes from her hiding place. But the execution was real and her lover is dead. Scarpia's murder has been discovered. Spoletta and Sciarrone must arrest Tosca. Before they get to her she leaps to her death.