San Diego Civic Theatre
1100 Third Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Sat, Mar 25 at 7:30pm
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Tue, Mar 28 at 7:30pm
Fri, Mar 31 at 7:30pm
Sun, Apr 2 at 2pm


By Giacomo Puccini

At the San Diego Civic Theatre

Tosca is Giacomo Puccini’s gripping drama filled with torture, treachery, lust, execution, and suicide. Scarpia, the chief of police, wants only two things: to recapture the escaped prisoner Angelotti and to seduce Tosca, an opera singer of incredible voice and beauty. Tosca is in love with Cavaradossi, an artist and sympathizer of Angelotti. After arresting Cavaradossi for harboring Angelotti, Scarpia plays with Tosca’s emotions, promising to free Cavaradossi if Tosca will succumb to Scarpia’s desires. But Tosca has a plan of her own, all of which unfolds with tragic consequences from which no one can escape. Soaring and sensuous, filled with such beautiful arias as Tosca’s “Vissi d’arte”, Cavaradossi’s “Recondita armonia” and the powerful choral piece “Te Deum”, Tosca has some of opera’s most beloved music, and one of opera’s most gripping plots.

Tosca welcomes the return of soprano Michelle Bradley in the title role, and Greer Grimsley in his signature role of Scarpia. Argentinian tenor Marcelo Puente makes his San Diego Opera debut as Cavaradossi. Directed by Alan Hicks and conducted by Valerio Galli.

Sung in Italian with projected English translations.

The approximate run time is 2 hours and 20 minutes, including one 20 minute intermission.


COVID safety protocols for our 2022-2023 season will be announced in fall 2022 and will evolve based on local transmission rates. Please visit our safety pagefor updates.

PRE-OPERA LECTURE: The pre-opera lecture begins at 6:40pm before the start time of 7:30pm for evening performances. The Sunday matinee pre-opera lecture begins at 1:10pm before the 2:00pm curtain.

MAIN STAGE POST-OPERA TALK-BACKS: Stay after the performance for a Talk-Back. Once the curtain falls, there will be a 10-minute break, then join us back in the theatre in the Dress Circle where you can ask questions of the stars, cast, and find out what really happens onstage and backstage!



Rome, June 14, 1800

The Battle of Marengo was fought this day in Piedmont, Italy, between 28,000 French forces led by Napoleon Bonaparte and 30,000 Austrian forces led by General Melas. Although Napoleon appeared defeated in the morning, the French overcame the Austrians in a surprise attack at night, driving them out of Italy.

Act I

The Church of Sant' Andrea della Valle

Cesare Angelotti, an escaping political prisoner, searches for a key to open a chapel and hides there as the church’s Sacristan enters, grumbling about his work. The artist Mario Cavaradossi arrives to continue work on his portrait of Mary Magdalene, inspired by a young woman he has seen the day before in prayer. He compares the raven beauty of his love, the singer Floria Tosca, with that of the blonde Magdalene. Angelotti comes out of hiding, and as he explains his escape from the Castel Sant’Angelo, Tosca calls to Cavaradossi, who gives Angelotti food and hurries him back into the chapel. Tosca is certain she has heard Cavaradossi with another woman and jealously questions him. They set a rendezvous at his villa that evening. As the artist returns to work, Tosca suddenly recognizes the Magdalene as the Marchesa Attavanti, whom she deems must be Cavaradossi’s lover. He assures Tosca that he loves only her, and she departs. Cavaradossi realizes that Angelotti is Attavanti’s brother, and she has hidden a disguise of women’s clothing in the chapel. Cavaradossi sends Angelotti off to hide deep in the well of his garden, but upon hearing a canon signaling a prisoner has escaped from the Castel Sant’Angelo, the two flee together to the villa, mistakenly dropping a fan, part of the disguise. The Sacristan announces a celebration around the defeat of Napoleon, and in the throes of jubilation, the Baron Scarpia, Chief of Police, arrives in search of Angelotti. The Sacristan mumbles that the empty food basket in the chapel must mean that Angelotti had indeed hidden there. When Tosca returns to tell Cavaradossi that she can’t meet that evening due to her part in the evening’s celebration around Napoleon’s defeat, Scarpia shows her the fan decorated with the Attavanti crest, and muses that surely Attavanti and Cavaradossi are lovers. Tosca tearfully vows vengeance and leaves for the villa where she is sure to find the two lovers. Scarpia sends his men to follow her and ruminates on the joy of two possible conquests that evening – capturing his political enemy and taking Tosca for himself.

Act II

The Farnese Palace

Scarpia anticipates his evening’s victories. Sciarrone, an agent of Scarpia, is sent to fetch Tosca following her performance. Spoletta arrives with news that although Angelotti has not been found, he has arrested Cavaradossi, whom Scarpia interrogates. Tosca arrives just as Cavaradossi is taken off to an adjoining room to be tortured. Although she disavows any knowledge of where Angelotti might be, she is finally so overcome by Cavaradossi’s screams that she reveals the hiding place. When he realizes what Tosca has revealed, Cavaradossi is outraged. Sciarrone rushes in to announce that Napoleon has in fact won the Battle of Marengo, a defeat for Scarpia but joyful news for Cavaradossi. He is taken off to the Castel Sant’Angelo to be hanged at sunrise. Scarpia suggests Tosca yield herself to him in exchange for her lover's life. Fighting off his advances, she protests her fate to God, having dedicated her life to art and love. Spoletta tells Scarpia that the gallows is built, forcing Tosca to give in to Scarpia or see her lover killed. Scarpia changes his orders from death by hanging to a mock execution by firing squad, after which Cavaradossi will be freed. Scarpia writes a safe-conduct out of Rome for the lovers. As he rushes victoriously toward Tosca, she kills him. Wrenching the safe conduct document from his fingers, she slips from the room.


The Roof of Castel Sant' Angelo

Awaiting execution, Cavaradossi bribes the jailer to take a farewell note to Tosca. Writing it, he is overcome with memories of an evening of love, and gives way to despair. Tosca rushes in to tell him of Scarpia’s death by her hands. She explains the mock execution and exhorts him to fake his death well. The lovers revel in their upcoming triumph. The firing squad carries out its orders and fire upon Cavaradossi, who falls convincingly. Tosca begs him to remain silent and still until the squad has departed, then urges him to rise and escape. When he fails to move, she discovers that Scarpia's treachery has reached from beyond the grave: the bullets were real. Calling out that she and Scarpia will meet before God, Tosca leaps to her death.