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The interior of Sant' Andrea Church in Rome. There is a big, covered toile on the left and a private chapel of Attavanti family on the right. Cesare Angelotti who is a former consul of the Roman Republic comes in forlornly. He has just escaped from Sant' Angelo Castle where he was imprisoned by the police chief Baron Scarpia. He finds the key hidden by his sister under the feet of the statute of Virgin Mary. He opens the door and hides himself… the sacristan of the church comes in. When he prays, painter Mario Cavaradossi arrives. He starts to work on Virgin Mary painting by opening its cloth. The sacristan knows the woman in the painting immediately. This portrait belongs to a woman who often comes and prays before the statute of Virgin Mary recently. The Artist answers him laughing; yes, he takes her as a model, but he tells with an aria that he thinks of his beloved Tosca. The sacristan gives him a basket with food and goes away… Angelotti emerges out of where he has been hidden. Cavarodossi is surprised at first, and then he recognizes his friend with whom he has fought together for the Republic. Then suddenly Tosca's voice is heard. Artist gives the basket to his friend and hides him again. He opens the door; famous singer, Floria Tosca is a very jealous woman. She suspects that there is woman inside, as he has opened the door late. Mario tries to tell her that this is nonsense and a love duet starts between them… Tosca sees the painting. She asks if the model is Marquise Attavani or not. But Cavaradossi succeeds in convincing her again… After Tosca leaves, gun reports giving notice of Angelotti's escape are heard. Angelotti is anxious; he doesn't know where to escape. The painter shall hide his friend in his cottage. Both of them leave the church… Children and people come to the church. The sacristan says that Italian troops have defeated Napoleon; there will be a ritual in the church, and also Tosca will sing songs at night… Baron Scarpia following the fugitive to the church comes in together with Spoletta and his men. There is a basket, a toile and there are Angelotti's clothes nearby. The investigation is started. In the mean time, Tosca comes back to the church. Scarpia, who is all along in love with the singer who is the beloved one of the Republican painter, thinks that he will be able to find the escapees by imposing upon her. He has now an opportunity to get his revenge on her for ignoring him. He tries to increase her jealousy by showing the fan he found there and which has Marquise Attavanti's emblem on it. The painter meets with women in the place where he makes his 'Virgin Mary' painting. A duet expressing their suspicions starts between them. Tosca is bewildered… The ritual starts in the church. Scarpia hums; 'The fugitive shall go to the gallows and this beautiful woman shall go to my home, to Farnese palace.´ He sends his close man Spoletta to pursue Tosca.
Scarpia evocates him and questions him. Supposedly the painter doesn't know where Angelotti is. Tosca comes into the room after she goes out of the ritual, she falls into her lovers arms. Cavaradossi whispers her where Angelotti is, but he cautions her not to say. Scarpia sends Cavaradossi to the torture room claiming that his testimony shall be taken. His aim is to make Tosca listen to her lover's screams. He wants Tosca to say where Angelotti's is. The woman is determined not to cheat her lover. But, at the same time the screams of the painter is echoed; the young man is crying desperately with sorrow. Tosca's resistance dwindles. Finally, she discloses where Angelotti hides. The torture ends. Cavaradossi is brought in blood and he collapses onto the armchair. Tosca cries by hugging him, but he curses the woman he loves, as she hasn't kept her word... In the meantime, news brought by Sciarronne changes everything. Napoleon has not been defeated, he has defeated. Three of them join in a trio… Scarpia sends Cavaradossi to the prison for being pleased with the news. He is alone with Tosca. He tries to tell her his love; he says if she requites his love, he shall reimburse for it. There is no relief left for Tosca except praying. In spite of all her begging, Scarpia plays his last card. He says that he is going to give the order necessary for the execution of Cavaradossi. The painter shall be saved only if Tosca shall be Scarpia's. The young woman accepts this compulsorily… Spolette comes and informs that Angelotto has committed suicide by drinking poison. Scarpia issues an order that the same thing done to Count Palmiere shall be done to Cavaradossi. The Count is a freedom hero fired with empty bullet cases as if he was executed, and then his escape was connived… Now Scarpia and Tosca are alone. Tosca wants him to give her an exit paper for her lover´s escape. While Scarpia is preparing it, she takes a knife from the dining table and hides it. When Scarpia finishes preparing his writing and hugs Tosca, the knife pierces his heart and he dies, murmuring a prayer. She takes the paper from his fingers pressed fingers, puts candleholders to his right side and left side and leaves the room.
At the terrace of San Angelo church. Sentries coming and going, the morning is near. A shepherd melody is heard from far away. Cavaradossi is seen with his guardians. It is his last morning. He writes a letter to his lover after taking permission. He thinks of his last happy night with Tosca. At the same time, Tosca approaches together with Spoletta and gives him the exit paper. The painter recognizes the Scarpia´s signature. Tosca tells him that he is to be shot with empty bullets and he has to fall to the ground when the guns are fired. She says that she has killed Scarpia and his blood is on her hands… Then the time is up, Cavaradossi shall be executed by shooting. The young man stands before the wall, crying with joy. The guns are fired; the young man falls to the ground exactly as Tosca has said. After the soldiers are gone, Tosca goes over to her lover and says he has to stand up. But, Cavaradossi has died indeed. Tosca cries. Scarpia has pulled an awful trick; her lover has been really executed… Just then voices are heard. The dead body of Scarpia has been found. Everybody is looking for Tosca. As the soldiers come closer, Tosca runs and jumps over the castle wall, cursing on Scarpia. The soldiers trying to catch her are petrified with astonishment…