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Not well received, evidently. Would be interested to hear from BTers who see the production.

It’s not only public discourse that has become coarser. Police chief Scarpia paws a statue of the Virgin Mary in Act 1 and is serviced by hookers in Act 2. The fiery diva Tosca looks like she might play the bugle at a Salvation Army concert. Isolated laughter changed to loud booing for the production team at curtain call.
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Not well received, evidently. Would be interested to hear from BTers who see the production.
It’s not only public discourse that has become coarser. Police chief Scarpia paws a statue of the Virgin Mary in Act 1 and is serviced by hookers in Act 2. The fiery diva Tosca looks like she might play the bugle at a Salvation Army concert. Isolated laughter changed to loud booing for the production team at curtain call.

I listened (didn't see it thought!) Monday night and heard a little booing after Act 2 and then an avalanche of booing for the production team at the end.

For all those intrigued, remember this is the first of the HD events of the current MET seasons and that it will be shown live in movie theaters on Oct 10 and then as an encore on Oct 28 with a Canadian encore on Halloween.

I'm guessing some details of the production will be gone by the time of the HD, that's been fairly standard practice at the MET lately, to continue to groom the productions after the premiere. So effects like the Tosca (mannekin) suspended in space at the very end may be replaced by a more conventional leap for Tosca off the parapet. (Although a writer for the NYT arts blog liked this effect : see link just below)

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/...-the-masses/?hp

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Thanks, richard53dog, for the reminder about the Met HD/Live transmissions of this performance -- and also for the following:

I'm guessing some details of the production will be gone by the time of the HD, that's been fairly standard practice at the MET lately, to continue to groom the productions after the premiere. So effects like the Tosca (mannekin) suspending in space at the very end may be replaced by a more conventional leap for Tosca off the parapet. (Although a writer for the NYT arts blog liked this effect

I'll be re-checking the Times articles before going to the theater and will keep an eye out for possible changes. I fear, however, that they will retail the (apparently) one-dimensional depiction of Scarpia, which focuses almost entirely on the sexual aspect of power. I suspect I will not be fond of the three non-singing ladies (invented for this production) who vamp and grope him during Act II. It's an almost laughable stage cliche when done in other works, and one which rarely has an erotic affect.

I can't wait! :P

Anthony Tommasini's review in the NY Times seemed well-balanced and well-done.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/23/arts/mus...1&ref=music

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call me old-fashioned, but i didn't like the staging & decorations. I watched its broadcast at Lincoln Center (and i didn't see the previous production Tosca - alas).

I loved the MUSIC and singing. But where decorations went? Such minimalism, and too much "-"EX. I know it sells, but if i want to see an adult movie, i'd rent one, i don't expect to watch it in the opera. And Tosca's decolte was too low to my taste (that sometimes, i wondered whether an accident would happen, instead of enjoying the singing). But the MUSIC and those VOICES and acting - great.

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I don't mind the visual minimalism. It's possible that this approach will work better on screen -- where the camera focus on whatever details there are. Onstage, it works better in a small European-sized opera house than in a barn like the Met.

I've seen a few opera and ballet productions at the Bastille, a large stage in European terms. None had conventional scenery, but there was a richness of color and brilliancy of lighting that were stunning. There ARE ways to fill the eye without bombarding it with detail.

Having said that, I always enjoyed the Zeferelli production, distracting as it could be, in Act I especially. I suspect that some of the booing was from those who not only loved the Zeferellli but realized that they were attending the passing of an era of stage direction.

Does anyone remember the 1992 international tv broadcast with Malfitano, Domingo, Raimundi, Mehta? Each act was performed in its original location in Rome -- and at the appropriate time of day. Talk about detail! I wouldn't have missed it for anything in the world. But, strangely, I never felt the desire to watch it again. :P

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Daniel Waiken has another piece in the Times on the production and the controversy: For Opening Night at the Metropolitan a New Sound: Booing. I was going to go to the HD broadcast, but after what I've seen and read I've changed my mind.

I'm inclined to agree, kfw, although as richard53dog notes, there is bound to be some rejiggering. One wishes that people would remember the adage that if it ain't broke......

Thanks for telling us your reactions, YID. I hope others will, as well.

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Does anyone remember the 1992 international tv broadcast with Malfitano, Domingo, Raimundi, Mehta? Each act was performed in its original location in Rome -- and at the appropriate time of day. Talk about detail! I wouldn't have missed it for anything in the world. But, strangely, I never felt the desire to watch it again. :P

You Tube has a couple of

if the
returns. :D The few photos I've seen of the Bondy production remind me a little of Per Kirekby's set for Martins' Swan Lake.
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Does anyone remember the 1992 international tv broadcast with Malfitano, Domingo, Raimundi, Mehta? Each act was performed in its original location in Rome -- and at the appropriate time of day. Talk about detail! I wouldn't have missed it for anything in the world. But, strangely, I never felt the desire to watch it again. :P

Yes, I remember this. The scenery more or less overshadowed things, including the drama, so theatrically, it became almost inert. And I don't remember the singing being all that overwhelming to buck the tide.

Traditional vs Minimalistic vs Regie opera productions? I'm not all that particular as long as the piece comes vibrantly alive. Actually, I feel in this day and age

minimalism can work pretty well. I'd list Wernicke's Frau ohne Schatten, the Carsen Eugene Onegin, and the Wilson Lohengrin as three Met productions in the last decade that really struck a chord with me.

Zeffirelli is a bit of a sore point with me, he was an incredibly innovative and creative director when he made his name but he seems to have had not much to say for many years now and seems to mostly concentrate on managing spectacle, which doesn't do much for me. His Tosca , Traviata, and the hideously gaudy Turandot could be replaced and I wouldn't shed a tear. Other than Falstaff, his "productions" now consist of only the original sets, mostly original costumes with very generic staging done by the house stage management team.

Bring on the Chereau production of Janacek's House of the Dead!!!! (Later in this season at the MEt opera)

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I probably won't go to see this production even those Tosca is a fav of mine. I do have a deep concern for these minimalist interpretations / productions. Some ADs screw of classic ballet with their new ideas and the same applies to Opera. The Zeferelli was very majestic and rich and with a good casting it was a very magical experience where you DO feel ported away sitting there in the Met. I am sure this production would leave me missing a lot of that sort of experience.

I've seen some stagey things done at the Met such as when the did La Fille du Regiment and as a comedie it made me think more of Broadway, but it was delightful. Can't see that for this opera. The Met also did an interesting Madama Butterfly with Anthony Minghella which worked visually because it is a "small" opera that needs to fill a big stage. Minghella made it minimal, Japanese-likeand memorable for the use of the huge mirror providing a plan view and the puppets.

I suspect this production will be dropped as it was not well received at all. Is this Mr. Gelb's Waterloo?

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I don't mind the visual minimalism........Onstage, it works better in a small European-sized opera house than in a barn like the Met.

Enlightening thought. As usual bart, you give me something to think about (not to mention your balanced perspective).

Very true. :P Nice to hear from you, Sandy.

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I think opera can handle somewhat more in terms of restagings than ballet because the music does not change, whereas in ballet, a restaging means different steps. I think it is good to see more 'adventurous' stagings of operas as well as traditional ones. Ballet, on the other hand, really can't be changed. Restaging Petipa or Bournonville is like altering Mozart.

Another thought, related to the 1992 broadcast mentioned above: those buildings were built for humans, and stage decoration used to be on a similar scale. So why are they considered too large and overbearing now?

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Another thought, related to the 1992 broadcast mentioned above: those buildings were built for humans, and stage decoration used to be on a similar scale. So why are they considered too large and overbearing now?

Hans, my thought is that the way they were filmed dwelled on the settings themselves. A film camera isn't like the human eye in a live performance, the eye can focus on what it wants to focus on but a film camera forces the issue.

I'm out on a limb here because I too just saw this once (and never had much curiosity to see it again) and it was now quite a few years ago and my memory

isn't all that detailed after all that time. But I remember all these long shots framing the, well they weren't really sets, were they? Rather than focusing on the opera I got the feeling that the director wanted the viewer to be impressed by the grandeur and presence of the physical settings, and the time settings too.

It was almost as if it was a hybrid opera performance/ historical documentary film. And the focus was split so you got half of one and half of the other.

With a hint of what we would now recognize as a dramatic reconstruction of one of those programs on the History Channel.

I tend to focus on the singing and the drama at the opera and I want to get caught up in the performance. The sets themselves aren't that important to me unless they are tied in directly with the production. Also Malfitano, Domingo, and Raimondi in a Tosca performance didn't strike me as a barn burner.

But , hey that's me, and I'm comfortable with my criteria and I also know that there are people with look at a performance in a way similar to the way I do

and there are others who really want to focus on different aspects and I'm real comfortable with that too.

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Bring on the Chereau production of Janacek's House of the Dead!!!! (Later in this season at the MEt opera)

I am GRRRRRRRRRR at the Met for not putting this on the HD schedule. I'm sure I can guess their reasoning, but GRRRRRRRRRR anyway. How many people might consider spending $20-$25 to check it out instead of not spending $150 to see it in the theater? I wouldn't have traveled to NYC to see "La Damnation de Faust" live if I hadn't seen it onscreen first. I liked the music well enough, but I was intrigued by Lepage's take on the work.

At least with an unfamiliar opera, people can go in a little scared or tentative, but what's going to happen to all of the people who go to "Tosca" thinking they were getting a reglar ole production, and instead they get Luc Bondy?

I'm not a huge fan of "Tosca", and had this been the Zeffirelli version, there's no way I'd go to the HD screening, but Anthony Tomassini's review made me plunk down $24.10 CAD to see it in a couple of weeks.

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I agree with bart that the Zeffirelli Turandot was ghastly, but I liked this Tosca -- and have good thoughts for Zeffirelli because of the Tosca he did for Callas back when. He seems to have done a splendid job by the opera and his diva.

He's got an axe to grind, of course, but Zeffirelli may have a point about Luc Bondy, too.

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:D The few photos I've seen of the Bondy production remind me a little of Per Kirekby's set for Martins' Swan Lake.

Thanks for that interesting thought. I'll be looking for this on October 10th.

The aspect of the Kirkeby set I disliked most was the coarseness of execution. This was, I presume, intentional -- a heavy-handed way of reminding us of the primitive passions and violence underlying this late medieval, wannabe courtly society. The photos I've seen of the Tosca set -- not to mention costumes -- look relatively slick in comparison. http://www3.timeoutny.com/newyork/thevolum...9/met-tosca.jpg

One of the aspects I love about what I've seen of Paris opera is the beautifully finished execution of designs on stage.

By the way, if you want to read a Tosca-opponent breathing a sigh-of-relief about the the imaginative but basically traditional production of Figaro that followed the opening night, here is something from the AP:

Normalcy returns to Met after Tosca Failure

:P For extreme tackiness and distraction on stage at the Met, I nominate Jurgen Flimm's production, and esepcially Santo Loquasto's designs, for Salome.

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Hans' point about the "flexibility" of opera compared to "classic" ballet is spot on. Blind people can enjoy an opera regardless of the staging.

However, the staging is what "supports" the libretto in an analogous was as the costumes and set support story ballet. Of course an AD may re interpret the "supporting" role,. as long as it provides support and doesn't erode the libretto.

This makes me think of West Side Story which was Romeo and Juliet completely redone. The core of the Shakespeare was there, the tragedy etc. but it was brilliantly reformatted completely by Bernstein. Messing about with the production of an opera is a much more limited and perhaps difficult row to hoe.

I've seen "scaled down" productions of Rigoletto (in Firenze) with modernist elements and it worked. So it is possible, but it requires skill and it won't float everyone's boat.

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I've seen "scaled down" productions of Rigoletto (in Firenze) with modernist elements and it worked. So it is possible, but it requires skill and it won't float everyone's boat.

Yes, this is an important point. I've seen many minimalist opera productions and quite a few have worked for me, including going all the way back to the 70s,

the Dexter Dialogues of the Carmelites at the Met. I've already mentioned a few others.

But I think you are right, it does require a lot of skill, you can't just take away, you have to add. As a rule I find the ones that I respond to most have a very strong sense of ensemble with all the characters carefully meshed together .

Some operas take to this better than others of course. And often they are reset in different time periods from the original. Sometimes this works and other times it's a pretty messy fit.

I have a much harder time with "regie", or "concept" productions which often include all kinds of stage business that I can't fathom what the connection is to the work itself.

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:P For extreme tackiness and distraction on stage at the Met, I nominate Jurgen Flimm's production, and esepcially Santo Loquasto's designs, for Salome.

Of course, maybe I'm being perverse here but I do think this production is a good fit for the opera. Strauss's score is oozing with decadence almost to the point of having a whiff of something rotten about it.

Also the score and the libretto are absolutely cluttered with characters going on and on about all kinds of things.

It's true, the production is over the top and mirrors the over the top quality of the opera itself.

Is this the ONLY way to do Salome? Of course not. And the problem with this kind of production (like the Bondy Tosca) is that they don't age well.

Once the original director is gone, revivals are blocked out by house stage directors. The physical properties often don't mesh very well with the modified (it's never exactly the same, even when the production book is used) staging.

I saw the Flimm Salome when it was new in 2004 and the revival from last season on TV . It lost some sharpness and focus even with the same singer in the title role. The only change for the better was that the revival had Patrick Summer's sort of ok conducting over Gergiev's almost incompetent version.

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The Magic Flute is a perfect example of an opera which can be successfully done by many artistic directors. It's a real fairy tale so there's oodles of room for interpretation. The Met production is dazzling to the eye. Can it be topped? I'd be willing to see someone try.

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:lol: For extreme tackiness and distraction on stage at the Met, I nominate Jurgen Flimm's production, and especially Santo Loquasto's designs, for Salome.

Of course, maybe I'm being perverse here but I do think this production is a good fit for the opera. Strauss's score is oozing with decadence almost to the point of having a whiff of something rotten about it.

I get your point, but it seems that "decadence" -- in the deepest, scariest, most hopeless meaning of the term -- is almost impossible to to convey on stage.

Think of all those 60s and 70s performances attempting to capture and comment on the essence of sexual liberation, drug culture and the like. "Seductive dance" can oh, so quickly turn into "laughable hoochy koochy." The line between "lust" and "grotesque overacting" is a thin one, and easily crossed. An attempt to project of "rottenness" can come across as "utter rot."

On the other hand, the Weimar Republic seemed to do it rather well, and some of those works are still revived in Europe. :unsure:

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The MET stage is huge, and it warrants huge productions. I come to the MET to see grand spectacles on a grand stage in a grand auditorium. A lot of their recent productions have fallen short, in my opinion. I guess we can assume that this is occurring becuase there is less money available to spend on new productions. Moreover, Gelb is trying to stage considerably more new productions each season than his predecessor. I'll be seeing the new production of Toscalater in the run (April 2010). There has been a trend at the MET recently of minimalist, cheap looking productions. I hated the MET's new production La Sonnambula (which premiered in Spring 09), which was supposed to take place in a rehearsal studio. It looked like the production cost about $100 total. The only thing that saved it was great singing. What typically happens at the MET is that they get a stellar cast when a new production opens, but in subsequent years when the production is revived they bring in a B-List cast. I don't think that people will be flocking to see these cheap, minimalist productions without A List casting. I think this is what also is happening with The Barber of Seville, which was a new production about 2 years ago. At that time, they had the GREAT tenor Juan Diego Florez singing the lead. The production is, in my opinion, a cheap looking production, compared to the old production. Now that they are reviving it without Florez, the MET is having difficulty selling tickets. I already received a discount offer from the MET for the run of the opera. In my opinion, the same fate will befall the new Tosca. Unless they come up with A List singers for the revival, this will be a very hard sell. In the same vein, they will be getting rid of the Zeferelli Traviata next season, and substituting it with a Eurotrash cheap looking minimalist production from Europe. The MET's production was to have starred Anna Netrebko, but she recently backed out. Unless they can line up a star soprano for the role, I think the new production will tank at the box office. I dread to think what the new Ring will look like in 2012!

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The Met's site has a photo gallery up of last week's Tosca premiere:

http://www.metoperafamily.org//metopera/ne...ry.aspx?id=9704

Note that it's quite a mixture of shots, it was the opening night of the season so there are a lot of red carpet shots. Included is a photo of Licia Albanese, one of the Met's Toscas from the last century as well as an opening night regular, who celebrated her 96th birthday last month .And the collections also includes pics from the large screen presentations on Lincoln Center Plaza as well as Times Square.

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