[Met Performance] CID:170580
Tosca {335} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/13/1956.

(Debut: Tito Gobbi

Metropolitan Opera House
January 13, 1956

TOSCA {335}

Tosca...................Zinka Milanov
Cavaradossi.............Giuseppe Di Stefano
Scarpia.................Tito Gobbi [Debut]
Sacristan...............Fernando Corena
Spoletta................Alessio De Paolis
Angelotti...............Lorenzo Alvary
Sciarrone...............George Cehanovsky
Shepherd................Peter Mark
Jailer..................Louis Sgarro

Conductor...............Dimitri Mitropoulos

Review of Jay S. Harrison in the Herald Tribune

Tito Gobbi Sings Scarpia in Puccini's 'Tosca' at Met

The repeat performance 'of Puccini's "Tosca" last night at the Metropolitan Opera was distinguished by three outstanding virtues - Tito Gobbi's debut with the company in the role of Scarpia, Giuseppe Di Stefano's first appearance at the house as Cavaradossi and Zinka Milanov's portrayal of Tosca, her first of the season.

Let it be recorded directly at the outset that Mr. Gobbi's Scarpia is without doubt, hesitation or question the finest this writer has ever seen. And in a sense the emphasis on "seen" is not to be taken lightly. From the top of his forehead to the soles of his feet Tito Gobbi is an actor, a rousing, imperious man of the theater. He has only to walk on stage, furrow his brow, smile cynically and take in the scene for one to know that a master dramatic craftsman had come among us. And once arrived, Mr. Gobbi quite frankly took over.

To begin with, the baritone's Scarpia is the more insidious for being entirely regal. His elegance, his ease, his off-hand manner make every sinister deed, every monstrous plot a thing of ghoulish horror. Gobbi is no menacing upstart, no Johnny-come-lately on the Roman police force - he is a Baron trained to evil and brilliantly wise in its ways. Indeed, every vicious word of his text was accompanied by a gesture or an expression that faithfully translated and underlined the dark meaning of his words. In short, his Scarpia is a macrabre fiend, an aristocratic one who prefers the rapier to the meat-ax. It was a harrowing portrayal. And a great one.

Given these circumstances it was quite simple to fall so completely under Mr. Gobbi's dramatic witchery as to overlook his voice. And that is a pity, for his baritone is a grand one - ringing, lofty, extravagantly virile. Myself, I found a slight tendency to monochrome, and I fancied his tones a mite dry and sapless, though it is certainly possible his interpretation of the role inclined him in this direction. At any rate, Mr. Gobbi is possessed of rare vocal skills. He can thunder, he can croon; he can rage, he can plea. All of which is no more than another way of saying that Tito Gobbi is an artist.

For his part, Mr. Di Stefano was not to be bested by a newcomer to the Met's roster. His singing was the most beautiful I have heard from a tenor in longer than I care to recall, and his work of the evening clearly announced that, with the singular exception of Bjoerling's, his voice is the most lavishly lovely in opera today. Throughout, his larynx curved with ineffable grace, and tones were set free with effortless purity and Úlan. In every way his Cavaradossi was a character worth remembering.

It would scarcely be exact to call Miss Milanov's Tosca her most vocally stylish impersonation, but there are elements of it that would be hard to equal. As always her softer tones were bathed in color and light and her louder ones, when they retained their focus, were vibrantly rich and of a vigor unsurpassed. But the truth of the matter is that the men of the evening really ran off with the show. I shall be perfectly content if I hear nothing more stirring this year than the singing of the Messrs. Di Stefano and Gobbi in last night's glowing "Tosca."

Review of Harriett Johnson in the New York Post

Tito Gobbi, Italian baritone, arrived at the Metropolitan Opera Friday night for his debut in Puccini's "Tosca" after an extended, distinguished career in Europe.

Since Gobbi's Italian operatic debut in 1939, he has sung over 80 roles and appeared in 26 films as well as having concertized and recorded extensively.

As the cruel, villainous Scarpia, he not only illustrated the benefits of this experience but he also showed keen perception of the dramatic aspects of the role in question. During the second act, when Scarpia diabolically tries to bend Tosca to his will, Gobbi's facial expressions and gestures, expressing a variety of sinister emotions, were realistically convincing. He acted with a cynical suavity which became the cunning mentality of this Roman chief of police.

Gobbi's baritone quality is on the bleak side in the lower register while as it ascends it gains warmth and sensuousness. He sang throughout with artistry and color, however, and though the voice was sometimes dry, it was, for the most part, expressive. And his subtlety as an artist compensated for a great deal.

Giuseppe Di Stefano, singing his initial Cavaradossi at the Met, surprised us through the power and virility of his voice. The tentative vocalism which he has been demonstrating in other roles seems to be disappearing. Zinka Milanov in the title role was bothered by her train in the second act, and, though her quality was beautiful in the "Vissi d'Arte," she did not manifest her usual security in the [beginning] and closing of the aria.

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