Monday, November 08, 2010


I think I was in Germany having a wonderful time when Tosca was simulcast from the Metropolitan Opera in 2009. The other night it appeared on my local PBS station, so I put it on my DVR and watched it today.

The production was booed at the premier. Tosca is set in famous places, two of which any tourist can visit. Only the Villa Farnese is closed to the public. Anyone knows what it's all supposed to look like. In this production it's all dark and somber instead of brilliant and festive like real Italian churches and villas. But so what? The opera is quite somber. There are some odd touches: Mary Magdalene whom Cavaradossi is painting has one of her breasts showing, and Scarpia has some girls over for a visit. At the end you can see that something is leaping from the window above just before the lights go out. This all seems pretty mild to me, especially after the recent odd Werther in SF. But then people love a scandal.

The stars of this production were soprano Karita Mattila as Tosca, tenor Marcelo Alvarez as Cavaradossi, and baritone George Gagnidze as Scarpia. People love Marcelo, and it is easy to see why. He is cute, passionate, warm and very stylish for Puccini. George is quite nasty with his huge, dark voice.

Can I say it? I don't enjoy to write a pan. Mario describes Floria as gentle. I don't see the gentle Tosca in Karita Mattila's performance. And I don't feel Puccini in her phrasing. She is hysterical and unnuanced. The audience stood for Marcelo so they were still up for Karita.

The sound in my living room was not nearly as good as in the movie theater. This is all very after the fact. Listen to a little Callas.

[See Kinderkuchen History 1890-1910]

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