14. The execution looms
Act III opens with church bells and an atmosphere of gloom. Cavaradossi is told that he has an hour left to live. The only thing on his mind is Tosca, so he writes a letter to her and sings one of Puccini’s greatest romantic arias, ‘E lucevan le stelle’. No sooner has he finished than Tosca herself blusters in with the signed document, explaining that his execution is a fake.
15. The aftermath
At the execution, Cavaradossi knows he has simply to pretend to be dead when the firing squad shoot him, because they all have blanks. They shoot, and he falls rather too convincingly… Tosca is initially impressed by his acting skill, but when he doesn’t move and she inspects closer, she sees that Scarpia has had the last laugh and made sure the bullets were real.
16. A tragic ending
In a shocking climax, Tosca is now pursued by the police after her murder of Scarpia. She evades there clutches and mounts a parapet, where she then flings herself over to her death. The curtain falls.