And the stars were shining

And the stars were shining...
And the earth was fragrant.
The garden gate creaked
And a footstep brushed the sand...
So sweet-smelling, she appeared
And fell into my arms.
Oh, sweet kisses and longing caresses,

While, trembling, I unwrapped her beautiful form from its veils!
My dream of love has vanished forever.
That moment has fled, and I die despairing.
And I die despairing!
And I have never loved life so much,
Loved life so much!

Set in Rome during the Napoleonic wars – a time of great political upheaval in Italy – Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca is an intense and thrilling tale of love, loyalty, betrayal and intrigue.
In the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, the painter and republican Cavaradossi is working on a portrait of Mary Magdalene, inspired by the Marchesa Attavanti, whom he had seen praying there. Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner and the Marchesa’s brother, is hiding in the family’s chapel. Cavaradossi promises to help him, but conceals him when his lover Tosca, a famous singer, arrives. She has heard him talking, recognises the Marchesa’s face in the portrait and accuses him being unfaithful, which Cavaradossi denies. After she has gone, a cannon shot signals the discovery of Angelotti’s escape and the two men flee to the painter’s home. Baron Scarpia, the tyrannical Chief of Police come looking for the prisoner and finds a fan with the Marchesa’s crest, which he shows to Tosca, who has returned to seek Cavaradossi. Devastated at this seeming proof of his infidelity, Tosca swears vengeance and leaves. The congregation sings a Te Deum – to celebrate (mistakenly) a victory over Napoleon – and Scarpia declares he will have his way with Tosca.
In the Palazzo Farnese, Scarpia’s spy Spoletta reports he could not find Angelotti, but has arrested Cavaradossi. Scarpia interrogates the defiant painter, then sends for Tosca as Cavaradossi is being taken to the torture cell. A terrified Tosca reveals Angelotti’s hiding place. Cavaradossi, badly hurt, is brought back and angrily reproaches Tosca. An officer rushes in to announce that Napoleon was actually victorious, a defeat for Scarpia’s side. Cavaradossi denounces tyranny, and Scarpia orders his execution. Alone with Tosca, Scarpia offers to free Cavaradossi if she surrenders to him. Resisting his advances, calls on God to aid her. Spoletta bursts in with news of Angelotti’s suicide. To save her lover, Tosca agrees to Scarpia’s proposition. Scarpia orders Spoletta to prepare a mock execution before freeing Cavaradossi. Tosca demands safe-conduct from Scarpia and thwarts his renewed advances by stabbing him. She takes the pass and flees.
At dawn, Cavaradossi faces execution on the ramparts of Castel Sant’Angelo. Tosca appears, and explains he will not die. Tosca begs Cavaradossi to fake his death convincingly so they can be together in freedom. The soldiers fire and depart. Cavaradossi lies still: Tosca has been betrayed by Scarpia. To evade arrest, she cries out she will meet Scarpia before God and throws herself from the ramparts.

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