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Alex Ross zaps the new Tosca.

By all means, then, let’s have a new “Tosca.” But it needs to be good. And this is not. Although Bondy has conceived potent stagings of “Salome,” “Don Carlos,” and Handel’s “Hercules,” among other operas, he has failed to find a clear angle on “Tosca,” and instead delivered an uneven, muddled, weirdly dull production that interferes fatally with the working of Puccini’s perfect contraption. Karita Mattila was miscast in the title role. No one else sang with particular distinction. By the end of opening night, Gelb had on his hands a full-blown fiasco, with boos resounding from the orchestra seats, the upper galleries, and even the plaza outside, where people had watched on a screen for free. You could almost hear Zeffirelli laughing from his villa.

There has been a trend at the MET recently of minimalist, cheap looking productions.

They seem to cost a lot of money, though. It will be interesting to see how that all works out.

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Alex Ross zaps the new Tosca.

They seem to cost a lot of money, though. It will be interesting to see how that all works out.

Ross made a lot of sense though with a lot of what he wrote. And although the tone of the review WAS pretty mixed, he ended on a (fairly) positive note. Or at least I'd say it was constructive.....

"Opera being a delightfully paradoxical medium, this whole debacle left me in an upbeat mood. The Met is refusing to repeat itself and is seeking, by trial and error, a new theatrical identity. One or two meetings might be in order to determine how things went awry, and once Bondy is safely on the plane back home it should be relatively easy to devise new stage business to replace his lamer notions. The audience was, at least, paying attention. If I’m not mistaken, someone shouted “Vergogna!”—“Shame!”—when the production team shuffled onstage to face the firing squad. I doubt that mass revulsion is part of Gelb’s marketing plan, but a scandal has its uses: the Met made the evening news."

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Thanks, richard53dog, for the link to Alex Ross.

... [T]his whole debacle left me in an upbeat mood. The Met is refusing to repeat itself and is seeking, by trial and error, a new theatrical identity.
A degree of "trial and error" is essential. Gelb and his people deserve the right to fail -- or, at least, the right to displease some of the audience. The Met is so vast, however -- and everything they do, so expensive -- that the latitude for "error" may have to be smaller there than elsewhere. :innocent:

By the way, the following is from the Times article I linked to above:

The audience has both grown and become more youthful. He has reached out to contemporary visual artists and begun a promising collaboration with André Bishop, the artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater, to develop new work. His program of showing selected operas on live high-definition television broadcasts has been tremendously popular, filling movie theaters both here and abroad.

[ ... ] Most of the grumbling one hears these days is not about the merits of the new Met productions but about how expensive they are. Since Mr. Gelb took over, the Met budget has increased by about $60 million. The box office is up, but meanwhile personal and corporate donations, which the Met depends on to balance its budget, are down, thanks to the economy, and so is the value of its endowment. The Met’s projected deficit for next year is about $4 million.

These new productions, and the high-powered talent that produces them, do not come cheap. Money, as in so many of our threads, continues to rear its head. :o

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And the drama didn't end with opening night either.

George Gagnidze, who sang Scarpia at the premiere was a replacement for the Finnish bass Juha Uusitalo who was replaced in rehearsals about a week before opening night because of illness. Gagnidze himself was unwell for the second performance and sang Act 1 but only acted in Act 2 while the season's third Scarpia, Carlo Guelfi sang in street clothes from the side of the stage.

But this wasn't all, Music Director James Levine, who conducted the premiere was suffering from a back ailment and turned over the baton for the second performance to Joseph Colaneri.

Colaneri conducted the third performance, last night, with Gagnidze out and Guelfi singing the whole role of Scarpia in costume and on stage.

Today the Met announced that Levine was out of the rest of the Fall Tosca performances (as well as a Rosenkavalier revival with Renee Fleming) to undergo

back surgery.

Hmmm, there is the HD performance coming up a week from Saturday. Let's see if Peter Gelb can do some magic and settle things down or maybe even throw in a wild card as he has done in past HD performances. The HD's are strong candidates for release as DVD/ Blue-Ray and need to look as attractive and star filled as possible.

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Hmmm, there is the HD performance coming up a week from Saturday. Let's see if Peter Gelb can do some magic and settle things down or maybe even throw in a wild card as he has done in past HD performances. The HD's are strong candidates for release as DVD/ Blue-Ray and need to look as attractive and star filled as possible.
We certainly have a lot to look forward too !! Can't wait. :P
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Another lead article in the NY Times:

Outdating Opera? Halfway Won't Do

Anthony Tommasini suggests that the a reaon for the failure in Bondy's production is that it didn't didn't go far enough. He compares Bondy's approach to the more radical revision of the Ring, on going at the Los Angeles Opera.

The problems arose, it would seem, because for all its contemporary trappings, the production was essentially traditional. So even little deviations from the source seemed like a self-conscious attempt by Mr. Bondy to shake up “Tosca” and rattle “Tosca” lovers.

Tommasini also makes a sensible point: that Met audiences are less tolerant of experimentation with the main bread-and-butter works -- Tosca, Traviata, Boheme -- than they ae with less familiar works like Lohengrin or Frau Ohne Schatten, and possibly the upcoming new productions of Armida and Attila.

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Perhaps it's a hard row to how when you have one foot planted in this row and the other in that row? If you want to redo an opera, you have to keep the music, the libretto so you can only recast the staging and that is the other row. When the libretto is built around an historical period you can't go far awar in the staging and retain much of flavor of the time. You are left with the music/singing watching something which doesn't seem to fit.

I return to the Met's Minghella Madama Butterfly which managed to work perhaps because of the minimalism of the Japanese aesthetic? I found the graphical qualities he used in the production made it even more interesting as a theater experience than the previous production they had staged.

Minimalism is a tough one because you strip away lots of fun/interesting stuff to some core message which has to carry the day. ON the other hand the roccoco approach overwhelms the senses and you can't see the tress or the forest at times because you mind jumpas back and forth from interesting details to interesting big ideas.

Success is in the right balance of big and small "ideas"/details in a production.

Just a thought.

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Tommasini also makes a sensible point: that Met audiences are less tolerant of experimentation with the main bread-and-butter works -- Tosca, Traviata, Boheme -- than they ae with less familiar works like Lohengrin or Frau Ohne Schatten, and possibly the upcoming new productions of Armida and Attila.

I think that's because the bulk of the audience that goes to Met to see "Tosca", "Traviata", or "Boheme" doesn't show up for "Die Frau Ohne Schatten", let alone "The Nose" or "From the House of the Dead" (although that doesn't always stop them from having an opinion).

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Minimalism is a tough one because you strip away lots of fun/interesting stuff to some core message which has to carry the day.

True. I'm not sure if Tosca is the kind of opera that will really benefit much from 'reinterpretation,' at least not a reinterpretation that's worth giving up spectacle, color, and throw pillows with tassels.

I think that's because the bulk of the audience that goes to Met to see "Tosca", "Traviata", or "Boheme" doesn't show up for "Die Frau Ohne Schatten", let alone "The Nose" or "From the House of the Dead" (although that doesn't always stop them from having an opinion).

Not the only opera house audience of which that's true. :)

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I think that's because the bulk of the audience that goes to Met to see "Tosca", "Traviata", or "Boheme" doesn't show up for "Die Frau Ohne Schatten", let alone "The Nose" or "From the House of the Dead" (although that doesn't always stop them from having an opinion).

Not the only opera house audience of which that's true. :)

I agree. But it does seem rather odd to me. Speaking only for myself, I'd much rather see familiar (or over-familar) operas in non-traditional productions. For Tosca, Carmen, Boheme, and Traviata, it might actually be a relief to see how they can be reimagined.

For rarely performed operas, however, I prefer something like (or reasonably close to) the original.

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Michael Kaiser's column in today's Huffington Post, titled "Why All the Booing?", specifically refers to this production. He concludes:

I believe Peter Gelb is doing what must be done by engaging important directors to create new productions; no performing arts organization can survive simply as a museum for beloved productions. And it takes courage to present a new production that is clearly going to be controversial on opening night.

But even if one did not enjoy this production, and even if one felt angry, booing seems to be an overreaction. Making art is about taking risk. Embarrassing serious artists when they are taking important risks seems hardly a smart approach that will foster additional experimentation. Next time you don't like a production, go home and write a blog.

Kind of ironic, isn't it, coming as it does from someone whose programming at Kennedy Center is often criticized for being "safe" and "conservative"?

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This is performance art and the only one(s) making art in a classical piece are the those involved in designing a new staging. It's much like receiving a lousy meal at a restaurant. Who do you file your complaint with, the chef or the waiter/waitress? I suspect of the performance arts pulled off their roles, and sang well, they would not be booed. But if the AD who staged the production came out after a lousy work of art he should not expect to receive love or bouquets of flowers.

I am sorry to inform Mr. Kaiser, but a large body of Opera and Ballet is very close to going to a museum to see old favorites.

But there certainly is the possibility for new and creative productions in dance, ballet and opera. Dance seems to be out front in the creating new art thingy and not all is well received either. The problems seems to invariably come when some AD decides to mess with a classic and give it a new look, usually stripping it down in the process. And to what end I might ask?

It's certainly possible to do a different staging of a classic and it's done all the time obviously as every production of Tosca is not the Met Zefferelli one. Is it? And many are classics and successful. Apparently Gelb and Bondy tried and failed. I want my money back might be appropriate.

Only a few years ago Peter Martins and NYCB tried it with R+J to less than stellar reviews. My reaction was it missed the mark, despite some excellent performances. The sets and costumes didn't work (for me).

It's not easy running a museum with live action and a pressure to be new and current.

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Kind of ironic, isn't it, coming as it does from someone whose programming at Kennedy Center is often criticized for being "safe" and "conservative"?

Well, maybe there is the distinction here that Kaiser knows theoretically what an arts organization should be doing in terms of creativity but also knows what has to be done to balance the books and keep the finances healthy.

To paraphrase what some other posters have already stated, there are some cultural institutions in the US; the Met Opera for example that have multiple audiences. These aren't discreet segments, there is a considerable amount of overlap.

There are the visitors, tourists and other temporary groups, that are looking for entertainment; spectacle is important here much is it in in many Broadway

shows.

There is the audience that want's to see their favorite pieces over and over and often their choices are in a fairly narrow section of the repertory

(i.e. Verdi/Verismo, or Wagner).

There are also the audiences who want to see something "edgy" for instance repertory that is new (or new to them) and often favor heavy directorial influence.

Where it gets tricky is in the overlaping segments. The group that will buy tickets to From the House of the Dead will most likely lap up a production where the director is a heavy influence but a lot of the audience that buys ticket to , let's say, Aida would object to this.

Going back to booing, which has been an interwoven theme in this thread, and the unwillingness of a lot of the audience to have "the boat rocked", the MEt premiere of their Aida revival Friday night came in for some booing. Not the physical production, which is very traditional, a twenty year old "Zeffirelli lite" group of sets and costumes, not the singers, but the conducting.

And Daniele Gatti didn't conduct a sloppy or incompetent performance, but it was one approached from the view of a symphonic conductor. He stressed the textures in the orchestration and favored some unusual tempi. And a segment of the audience was unhappy with this and booed (not as much as the opening Tosca, but enough to be heard on the live broadcast)

To sum up, I think the administrator of an arts institution needs to understand their audience(s), decide how to relate to them, and then not waffle and end up with muddled compromised direction.

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This is performance art and the only one(s) making art in a classical piece are the those involved in designing a new staging. It's much like receiving a lousy meal at a restaurant. Who do you file your complaint with, the chef or the waiter/waitress?

If you get a lousy steak at a steak joint, you're within your rights to complain. But if you go to some hot new restaurant where the chef is known for his adventurousness, you take your chances, and if your taste doesn't match his, you're not required to compliment him, but only a bad sport would actually complain. The Met didn't hide the fact that this was a new production by an adventurous director.

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If you get a lousy steak at a steak joint, you're within your rights to complain. But if you go to some hot new restaurant where the chef is known for his adventurousness, you take your chances, and if your taste doesn't match his, you're not required to compliment him, but only a bad sport would actually complain. The Met didn't hide the fact that this was a new production by an adventurous director.

I wish we had the animated "respect" smilie, but in the meantime, I'll reply with :wacko:

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This is performance art and the only one(s) making art in a classical piece are the those involved in designing a new staging. It's much like receiving a lousy meal at a restaurant. Who do you file your complaint with, the chef or the waiter/waitress?

If you get a lousy steak at a steak joint, you're within your rights to complain. But if you go to some hot new restaurant where the chef is known for his adventurousness, you take your chances, and if your taste doesn't match his, you're not required to compliment him, but only a bad sport would actually complain. The Met didn't hide the fact that this was a new production by an adventurous director.

I do see your point, but there's 'adventurous' and there's 'bad.' If the chef serves me an exotic meal and not only does it taste bad but it's poorly cooked and presented, I can complain, especially if I've plunked down a significant chunk of change for the privilege. He has the right to experiment and I have a right not to like it and say so.

Thanks for the link, carbro.

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This is performance art and the only one(s) making art in a classical piece are the those involved in designing a new staging. It's much like receiving a lousy meal at a restaurant. Who do you file your complaint with, the chef or the waiter/waitress?

If you get a lousy steak at a steak joint, you're within your rights to complain. But if you go to some hot new restaurant where the chef is known for his adventurousness, you take your chances, and if your taste doesn't match his, you're not required to compliment him, but only a bad sport would actually complain. The Met didn't hide the fact that this was a new production by an adventurous director.

I do see your point, but there's 'adventurous' and there's 'bad.' If the chef serves me an exotic meal and not only does it taste bad but it's poorly cooked and presented, I can complain, especially if I've plunked down a significant chunk of change for the privilege. He has the right to experiment and I have a right not to like it and say so.

It might help to give this discussion an economic perspective. The Met's top ticket price for the opening night Gala was $1,275. For this Saturday's matinee, it's $375.00 (best Parterre seats) and $295 (best orchestra and grand tier seats). The HD/Llive tickets are in the $20 range. At $20, I'll take the risk of a failed experiment. At $375.00, probably not.

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I loved it. While the scene with the prostitutes at the beginning of Act II was a miss in my opinion -- they were more Duke of Mantua's hangers-on than Scarpia's -- the direction was so well-thought-out that the very few cons were, to my eyes, a few small blips. For example, one small detail: in every production I've seen to date, in Act III Cavaradossi frantically wrote his farewell to Tosca and handed it to the jailor, who was a Variation-on-a-Theme-of-Rocco. Here, Cavaradossi tried to write the letter -- he'd already given the jailor his ring in exchange for paper and pen -- and then, realizing he really couldn't put it into words, crumbled the paper up and tossed it to the ground. Just a small thing, but psychologically and dramatically true to the moment. I thought it was brilliant to have the Jailor have the firing squad do a practice run during the shepherd boy's sweet song, and he was no Rocco, cutting his little troop no slack and rousing Cavaradossi with the butt of his rifle.

The fan really did become the equivalent of the handkerchief in "Othello" -- noted by Scarpia in the text -- as it made its way from Act I to Act II. I did not for a minute miss the ending in the libretto for the end of Act II, where Tosca puts a cross on Scarpia's chest and places a candle on either side of him. Instead, Director Luc Bondy had Tosca pick up the fan from the window sill, sit in a chair, and collapse backwards, fan open, as she tried to cope with the enormity of what she'd done and how she has to plan out Act III.

The Scotiabank Theatre in Vancouver has started reserved seating this season. The good news is that you really don't have to get there an hour early to snag a good seat. The bad news is that only seats in the first five rows are available for the rest of the season. I'm not sure if the lighting looked better from farther back, but from where I was sitting, it was a pretty dark, which fit with the starkness of the physical production, which I loved to death, but which made it hard to register at times. The only miss there is when Angelotti remembered his sister's instructions for the hidden key to the Attavanti Chapel, and climbed a staircase to what looked like nowhere, but was supposed to be at the foot of the Madonna. (The only Madonna I saw was the one carried in during the Te Deum, which Scarpia kisses at the very end of Act I.) The set designer was Richard Peduzzi and the costumes were by one of my all-time favorite designers, Milena Canonero (Oscar-winner for "Chariots of Fire", "Marie Antoinette", and "Barry Lyndon"), who gave a short interview, or I should say, said a few words while host Susan Graham alternately gushed and put words in her mouth. Kudos to the design team.

I loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved -- did I mention "loved"? -- Karita Mattila's Tosca. I didn't expect to after the first few minutes, where she was all over the place pitch-wise, but after that, I found her performance gripping, the only Tosca I've ever seen that I found believable as a person, not as a self-conscious Hollywood Diva. During the second intermission interview, Graham and Mattila discussed how Zeffirelli said that the Diva moniker was an earned one. Mattila, praising Bondy and the directing staff by saying that she felt safe in this production, said that she approached the role from the bottom up: Tosca was a singer, which Mattila could relate to, and an actress. If her Tosca was a Diva, it was through the aspects that Mattila portrayed consciously. Mattila actually portrayed a Tosca with a spine, and I think by playing her as a middle-aged woman instead of a spoiled younger one made Tosca's jealousy understandable.

I thought Marcelo Alvarez's vocal interpretation of Cavaradossi was beautiful, particularly in the last Act, where instead of pouring out verismo-by-the-yard, he sang subtly and with sensitivity to the text as poetry. His was the warmest sound overall. Gagnidze's acting, particularly with his eyes, sometimes bordered on Silent Movie acting, but that was on the big screen. In general, it was hard for me to tell how this would have looked or sounded like in the house and how much would have registered, especially from the Dress Circle on upwards. Paul Plishka's Sacristan was the poster child for the adage that there are no small parts, only small actors. Not once did he resort to the half buffoon-half cutesy portrayal I've seen way too many times.

Mattila's interpretation was passionate and gripping, but neither her nor baritone George Gagnidze's performance was Italianate, and coupled with the stark sets and icy color palate for the men and subdued costumes for Tosca, apart from Act II, I could see how this could get under the skin of the audience, especially one that was used to rich golds and reds, satiny blacks, and opulent sets and more idiomatic voices, even more than the much-reported sexual aspects. When Scarpia kissed the Madonna statue at the end of Act I, it was short and sweet, if a shock. The Act II prostitutes were a bit silly, but dramatically, they did add diversity to the stage action for Scarpia's monologue, which is often portrayed with a lot of pacing around and gloating. To me, the most sexual aspect was the pervy, sado-voyeuristic Spoletta of, I believe, Joel Sorenson. (The titles went by too quickly for me to read; he was the Opening Night Spoletta.) The most competition he had was Mattila's assertion in the second intermission interview that "sound must come from the pelvic bone -- all singers know that". Seeing Graham's expression, she stopped herself and asked if this was a family show :lol:

Speaking of intermissions, I know the argument for dive bombing a singer seconds after s/he's finished an act with a microphone in hand is that singers are pumped up and love to talk after they perform. I think that was true of Anna Netrebko in the "I Puritani" and Mattila here, although on the whole, I expect them to be forced to say, "I'm going to Disneyland!" But I wish they could distinguish between those for whom it's appropriate and those for whom it's a difficulty. Gagnidze looked shell-shocked as Graham bounced from one question to the next, and coach Carrie-Ann Matheson (she was in "The Audition") tried to save it by translating into Italian. I can understand wanting to introduce singers to audiences, but I suspect it would have been better if he were able to interview later in intermission, after he had a chance to get his bearings, much like they did for Alvarez.

I do love when they ask singers to do a shout-out in their own language to their home fans, something they didn't do for Gagnidze.

Peter Gelb gave a speech during one intermission. I think it was unnecessarily defensive about the production and sounded a bit whiny. Not a single person walked out of today's movie -- I was going to try to snag a seat farther back from someone who didn't return, but alas, not a seat to be had -- and it was as geriatric a crowd as I've seen at most of these screenings. The most frequent comments on the (endless) Ladies' Room lines, at least in downtown Vancouver, were "Wasn't Mattila great?" and "This is what caused such a commotion? I don't see what the big deal was."

I can't wait until the DVD comes out. The DVD of last season's "Barber of Seville" is coming out soon, according to Graham and director Bartlett Sher, who was interviewed briefly about the upcoming "Tales of Hoffmann".

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Sorry ffor the rambling nature of what follows. This was a powerful and exciting performance -- rich in ways I didn't expect and often don't really care for. I'm having a hard time organizing my thoughts and feelings.

I loved it.
Me too... much to my surprise. The various criticisms I've read (NY Times, Alex Ross) began to drift away as I got drawn into the story.

First of all: the so-called "minimalism" suggested by some reviews. Not so. It's a different look, clearly, with great attention to detail. It's even quite traditional in its own way -- suggesting (to me) a messy, grim, sometimes even cluttered police-state setting in the days of European Fascism. (Was the Scarpia's superficial resemblance to Mussolini an accident?)

I agree with you, Helene, about the 3 prostitutes. Scarpia's office becomes a strange but I think effective mix of public and private spaces. It's police station, bordello, lounge, torture-chamber, seduction room, all in one. The line between public and private is blurred, as it often was with men of power. There is no inner sanctum. People come and go throughout the act. The prostitutes distract not by being there, but in the way they are used. The intention seems to be to shock and titillate the audience. They should be cut or -- better -- reconceived.

On the other hand, I loved the unconventional treatment of "Vissi d'arte" as a kind of interior monologue in which Tosca, sitting in a chair for much of the aria, thinks out her genuine puzzlement about how she could have reached such a turn in life. Her arms move helplessly as she sings She's really in pain, the pain of powerlessness. Scarpia, meanwhile, lies on the other side of a long sofa lost in his own thoughts, still the supreme egocentric.

For me the treatment of the religious element in Act I is the weakest point. Scarpia does indeed plant a sloppy kiss on the mouth of the statue of the Virgin Mary at the end of Act I. It's grotesque, contrived, and over-obvious, especially since none of the Church dignitaries standing just a few feet from him seem even to notice. The religious procession -- very ominous, as the randomly mingled Fellini-esque bishops, altar boys, nuns, and who knows what else, process downstage towards the audience -- is surrealistic, with more than a touch of anti-clericalism. The scene some across as a figment of Scarpia's imagination. Listen to his lines, however, and this makes sense.

In fact, many of the elements criticized in the early reviews make a great deal of sense in the context of the actual libretto. The opera becomes, as it probably was in its original performances, a wonderfully crafted melodrama that sucks you into the story. The familiar story really feels new. The characters fascinate. They stimulate pathos (in the original meaning of the term) and that made amazing sense. I really did feel that I was entering into the warped, depraved mind of of the fascinating thug Scarpia as though for the first time.

The same true for the passionate but really rather befuddled mind of Tosca and the idealistic though self-deluding mind of Cavaradossi. These lovers actually do believe that they have freedom of choice, room for action, IF they can just try a little harder. That's the great delusion of the piece (for all three characters, actually) and the main source of pathos in their fate. The libretto has them actually talking to us, directly, as they work out their inner thoughts, fantasies, or delusions. Bondy has captured this. The final encounter between Tosca and Cavaradossi was, for me, heart-breaking because, far from having reached some time of self-awareness they fly off even further in the direction of wishful thinking.

About the singing. I agree with Helene that Mattila was, vocally, a powerful and moving Tosca. I don't get the criticisms that he voice was not suited for the role. Not suited?! :lol: A remarkable fit, I'd say. A problem is that HD videography is not flatterirng to her face or body. The look, I hate to say, was more Baltic hausfrau that Italian diva. Only in the austere costume -- and dark lighting -- of Act III did she really become, for me, a beautiful woman. (And quite a tiger as she fights off the guards just before leaping from the parapet.)

I loved Alvarez. A simple soul, almost a boy in moments of joy, trying to combine his passion for Tosca with high ideals about beauty and honor. His arias became real events for me: a soaring voice, sung entirely in character. We see him as a character struggling to understand and to grow: "E lucevan le stelle" was marvelously done and very moving.

Gagnidze's Scarpia became "Scarpia, which doesn't always happen for me. (Think of him as the opposite of Giuseppe di Stefano in the same role.) I could not agree with the Times reviewer who suggested that his interpretation left out the aristocratic elements that are somehow presumed to be built in to the character. The usual way of playing Scarpia is a kind of "shit in silk stockings" (to quote Napoleon's comment on Talleyrand). The Bondy approach, quite faithful to the libretto, was of a self-centered unpredictable thug, capable of using charm and good manners when it suited him, but openly relishing his power to feel and do outrageous things. Wild unpredictability, veering from one extreme to another, is particularly terrifying means of wielding power. Aristocracy and outrageous behavior often went together in those days. There were many powerful men like this Scarpia in Mussoini's regime, as well. They were often not above chewing the scenery, so to speak. Even though they could, if necessary, hobnob with aristocrats, plutocrats, and prelates, they often did not bother to hide their darker, crazier side, and they shared with Scarpia a highly exaggerated idea of their own cleverness.

Helene, I agree with you about the treatment of the shepherd's song -- the way Bondy intregrated it into the slow ritualized rehearsal for Cavaradossi's execution. It was brilliant and should, I think become the new performance standard.

Angelotti's entrance was a stunner too. On the other hand, Tosca's leap (frozen in mid-air for an instant before final black-out) was a good idea that didn't translate well into stage action.

I've spent the summer reading history and fiction from the period between the 2 World Wars. So much of this production reminded me of those wierdly, obscenely cruel regimes: the power held and flaunted by grotesque villains ... the connivance of prelates and aristocrats who held their noses but went along ... the ubiquity of spies, messengers, parasites, bureaucrats, torturers and other minions of power .... the desperation of confused, terrified, and basically ordinary people caught in the middle ... the life-or-death significance of a piece of a simple piece paper (whether Scarpia's letter giving Tosca and an attendant permission to leave the country, or an ausweis to get you out of occupied France). This production recalled for me that world -- and the fate of people caught up in it.

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Thanks Helene and Bart for the writeups on the Tosca HD.

I've been following this for the last few weeks since I listened to the opening night performance so I was looking to hear some posters' takes on the performance.

Perhaps I will get to see the production in April with one of the alternate casts (Dessi or Kaufmann/Terfel )

It's rule of thumb of mine that if you get swept along with a performance, then it's a success for you. I personally get a charge out of realizing that I'm seeing something in a new way and it sounds like both of you came to that conclusion with the Tosca performance.

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It might help to give this discussion an economic perspective. The Met's top ticket price for the opening night Gala was $1,275. For this Saturday's matinee, it's $375.00 (best Parterre seats) and $295 (best orchestra and grand tier seats). The HD/Llive tickets are in the $20 range. At $20, I'll take the risk of a failed experiment. At $375.00, probably not.

Despite (or maybe because of?) the lousy critical reception, another encore HD performance has been added at my local theater (and presumably elsewhere) this Saturday. The original live and two encores were/are pretty much sold out here, as is this new one coming up, so the pans don't seem to be doing any harm to the HD box office. I agree that $20 vs $375/$1,275 is a major incentive to take a risk. We can only hope the Met keeps the prices this reasonable in future seasons.

Add my thanks to the reviewers here; I can't wait!

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