Rome, 1800. As political storms gather, the opera singer Floria Tosca risks everything to save her lover, the painter Cavaradossi, from sinister police chief Baron Scarpia.

Based on a French play that scandalized critics and was a smash hit with audiences, Puccini’s 1900 opera is theatrically sensational, musically thrilling, and justifiably renowned. Don’t miss this tour de force of soaring music and headlong drama.

Friday, November 3, 2023 at 8 pm
Sunday, November 5, 2023 at 2:30 pm
Overture Hall
Sung in Italian with projected English translations

approx. run time: 2 hours 50 minutes, with 2 intermissions


Music by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
Based on the play La Tosca by Victorien Sardou

Premiered 14 January 1900
Teatro Constanzi, Rome, Italy

Previously at MO: 1966, 1987, 1998, 2005, 2013

Rome, June 1800. Cesare Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner, rushes into the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle. After finding the key his sister has hidden for him, he hides in his family’s private chapel. Soon, the painter Mario Cavaradossi arrives to work on his portrait of Mary Magdalene. The painting has been inspired by Angelotti’s sister, the Marchesa Attavanti, whom Cavaradossi had seen praying in the church. Angelotti, who was a member of the former Bonapartiste government, emerges from his hiding place. Cavaradossi recognizes him and promises help, then hurries him back into the chapel as the singer Floria Tosca, his lover, calls from outside. When he lets her into the church, she jealously asks Cavaradossi to whom he has been talking and reminds him of their rendezvous that evening. Recognizing the Marchesa Attavanti in the painting, she accuses him of being unfaithful, but he assures her of his love. When Tosca has left, Angelotti again comes out of hiding. A cannon signals that the police have discovered the escape, and he and Cavaradossi flee to the painter’s home.

The sacristan enters with choirboys who are preparing to sing in a Te Deum celebrating the recent victory against Napoleon at the Battle of Marengo. At the height of their excitement, Baron Scarpia, chief of the secret police, arrives, searching for Angelotti. When Tosca comes back looking for Cavaradossi, Scarpia shows her a fan with the Attavanti crest that he has just found. Seemingly confirming her suspicions about her lover’s infidelity, Tosca is devastated. She vows vengeance and leaves as the church fills with worshippers. Scarpia sends his men to follow her to Cavaradossi, with whom he thinks Angelotti is hiding. While the congregation intones the Te Deum, Scarpia declares that he will bend Tosca to his will.

That evening in his chambers in the Palazzo Farnese, Scarpia anticipates the pleasure of having Tosca in his power. The spy Spoletta arrives with news that he was unable to find Angelotti. Instead, he brings in Cavaradossi. Scarpia interrogates the defiant painter while Tosca sings at a royal gala in the palace courtyard. Scarpia sends for her, and she appears just as Cavaradossi is being taken away to be tortured. Frightened by Scarpia’s questions and Cavaradossi’s screams, Tosca reveals Angelotti’s hiding place. Henchmen bring in Cavaradossi, who is badly hurt and hardly conscious. When he realizes what has happened, he angrily confronts Tosca, just as the officer Sciarrone rushes in to announce that Napoleon actually has won the battle, a defeat for Scarpia’s side. Cavaradossi shouts out his defiance of tyranny, and Scarpia orders him to be executed. Once alone with Tosca, Scarpia calmly suggests that he would let Cavaradossi go free if she’d give herself to him. Fighting off his advances, she declares that she has dedicated her life to art and love and calls on God for help. Scarpia becomes more insistent, but Spoletta bursts in: Faced with capture, Angelotti has killed himself. Tosca, now forced to give in or lose her lover, agrees to Scarpia’s proposition. Scarpia orders Spoletta to prepare for a mock execution of Cavaradossi, after which he is to be freed. Tosca demands that Scarpia write her a passage of safe-conduct. After he has done so, he reaches for her, but she grabs a knife from the table and stabs him. She takes the pass and flees.

At dawn, Cavaradossi awaits execution on the ramparts of Castel Sant’Angelo. He bribes the jailer to deliver a farewell letter to Tosca, and then gives in to his despair. Tosca appears and explains what has happened. The two imagine their future in freedom. As the execution squad arrives, Tosca implores Cavaradossi to fake his death convincingly, then watches from a distance. The soldiers fire and depart. When Cavaradossi doesn’t move, Tosca realizes that the execution was real, and Scarpia has betrayed her. Scarpia’s men rush in to arrest her, but she cries out that she will meet Scarpia before God and leaps from the battlement.


2324 Headshot - Michelle Johnson
Michelle Johnson

Madison Opera Debut: Santuzza, Cavalleria Rusticana (2018)
Recently at MO: Opera in the Park 2019

Recently:  Aida, Aida (Opera Grand Rapids, Opera Carolina); Bess, Porgy and Bess (Des Moines Metro Opera); Serena, Porgy and Bess (North Carolina Opera, Opera Carolina); Leonora, Il Trovatore (Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Tampa); Turandot, Turandot (Opera Southwest); Mimì, La Bohème (Nashville Opera, Columbus Symphony); Tosca, Tosca (Opera Columbus); Santuzza, Cavalleria Rusticana (Boston Lyric Opera)
Upcoming: Praskovya Osipovna / Mother / Respectable Lady, The Nose (Chicago Opera Theater); Turandot, Turandot (Opera Delaware); Mimì, La Bohème (Florentine Opera)

2324 Headshot - Limmie Pulliam
Limmie Pulliam

Madison Opera Debut: Opera in the Park 2022
Dick Johnson, La Fanciulla del West; Otello, Otello (Cleveland Orchestra); Radames, Aida (Metropolitan Opera, Tulsa Opera); The Ordering of Moses (Oberlin Orchestra at Carnegie Hall); Verdi’s Requiem (San Diego Symphony); Manrico, Il Trovatore (Los Angeles Opera);  Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (Philadelphia Orchestra, Memphis Symphony)

Upcoming:   Verdi’s Requiem (Gewandus Orchestra); Lazarus, The Gospel According to the Other Mary (Vienna Volksoper); Canio, Pagliacci (Florida Grand Opera); A Madison Symphony Christmas (Madison Symphony Orchestra)

Craig Irvin Headshot
Craig Irvin

Madison Opera Debut: Jochanaan, Salome (2022)
Recently: Jack Torrance, The Shining; Maximilian, Candide (Atlanta Opera); Cinderella’s Prince / Wolf, Into the Woods (Tulsa Opera); Older Thompson, Glory Denied (Knoxville Opera)
Upcoming: Pirate King, The Pirates of Penzance (Kentucky Opera); Older Thompson, Glory Denied (Annapolis Opera)

Soare, Alex 2023
Alex Soare

Madison Opera Debut
Recently: Escamillo, Carmen (Anchorage Opera); Death, Der Kaiser von Atlantis (On Site Opera); Basillio, The Barber of Seville (Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera); Leporello, Don Giovanni (Opera Carolina)

Upcoming: Figaro, The Marriage of Figaro (Roanoke Opera); Footman / Janitor 7 / 6th Policeman, The Nose (Chicago Opera Theater)

2324 Headshot Mark Billy
Mark Billy

Madison Opera Debut
Recently: Marullo, Rigoletto (Intermountain Opera Bozeman); Giorgio Germont, La Traviata (UW- Madison); Ford, Falstaff (Opera Reading Project); Lorenzo, The Capulets and The Montagues (Mixed Precipitation)
Upcoming: Wheels of Harmony Tour (Intermountain Opera Bozeman); Brahms’ Requiem (Mesabi Symphony); Carmina Burana (Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra); North American Indigenous Songbook (National Sawdust); Inki / Okhina, Shell Shaker (OKC Philharmonic)

William Johnson Headshot
William Johnson

Madison Opera Debut
Madison Opera Studio Artist
Recently: Don Ottavio, Don Giovanni (Mozart in the Knobs); Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (Albany Symphony); Tamino, The Magic Flute; Rodolfo, La Bohème; Fabian, If I Were You (Northwestern University Opera Theater)
Upcoming: Colin, The Anonymous Lover (Madison Opera)

Timothy Krueger Headshot
Timothy Krueger

Madison Opera Debut
Madison Opera Studio Artist
Recently: Dr. Bartolo / Antonio, The Marriage of Figaro (Brancaleoni International Music Festival); Commendatore, Don Giovanni (Ouroboros Opera); Tobit, Tobias and the Angel; Giant, The Selfish Giant; Counselor, Bertha (Roosevelt University); Father, Hansel and Gretel (Sinfonietta Bel Canto)

White, Ryan
Ryan White

Madison Opera Debut: Quartet, The Abduction from the Seraglio (2018)
Recently at MO:
Cappadocian, Salome; Ensemble, She Loves Me
Recently: Captain Corcoran, HMS Pinafore (Midwest Cornish Festival); Priest, Kristi and the Priest (Belle Ensemble)

Upcoming: Ensemble, The Anonymous Lover (Madison Opera)

2324 Headshot John DeMain
John DeMain

Madison Opera Debut: The Magic Flute (1995)
Recently at MO:
Trouble in Tahiti / The Seven Deadly Sins; Salome; Opera in the Park 2022; Orpheus in the Underworld; She Loves Me
Recently: Blue (Glimmerglass Festival); Candide (Gran Teatre de Liceu)

Upcoming: Candide (Madison Opera)

2324 Headshot Francies Rabalais
Frances Rabalais
Stage Director

Madison Opera Debut 
Macbeth (Resonance Works); Hansel and Gretel (Opera Birmingham); The Magic Flute (North Carolina Opera); The Barber of Seville (Pensacola Opera) 

Upcoming: Songbird (Washington National Opera)


Marshall Osborn

The Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation

Martha & Charles Casey

Lau & Bea Christensen Charitable Foundation

Chun Lin

Patricia & Stephen Lucas

Cyrena & Lee Pondrom