[Met Performance] CID:170700
Tosca {337} The American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 01/24/1956.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
January 24, 1956

TOSCA {337}

Tosca...................Renata Tebaldi
Cavaradossi.............Giuseppe Di Stefano
Scarpia.................Paul Schöffler
Sacristan...............Gerhard Pechner
Spoletta................Alessio De Paolis
Angelotti...............Clifford Harvuot
Sciarrone...............George Cehanovsky
Shepherd................Peter Mark
Jailer..................Louis Sgarro

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

Review of Maz de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

'Tosca' Thrills Met Opera

There have been few nights at the Academy of Music when an audience has been so carried away as last night's spectators were at the Metropolitan Opera's production of "Tosca."

This was the New York company's fourth offering of the season at the Academy, and the ancient theater was packed to the roof. It is said that 1,000 people were turned away, after vainly seeking seats.

"Tosca" is an old story to Philadelphia, but when presented as it was last evening it becomes renewed and our enthusiasm soars.

The Metropolitan has given "Tosca" a new look this season. Dimitri Mitropoulos conducts it for the first time with this company, and there are new settings by Frederick Fox which, despite details that one could question, are undeniably handsome.

And the singers - they were also new to Philadelphia in their roles, singing and acting in a manner to cause people to state with emphasis that they had not heard such a compelling and gripping "Tosca" in many years.

Renata Tebaldi appeared in the title role and scored a great success, which was expressed by floral tributes flung upon the stage before the final curtain. Miss Tebaldi is riding the crest of an extraordinary success this season and her fervent reception is easy to understand. She is handsome, warm and womanly, and the possessor of a lovely voice, which obeys her slightest bidding.

Furthermore, she is a magnetic actress, capable of stirring genuine sympathy. "Vissi d'arte," sung with great poise and deliberation, won her an ovation and many phases of the love music were invested with a haunting loveliness of tone and expression. The high notes were very telling, rocklike in their firmness and generally squarely on pitch. Miss Tebaldi's was a memorable Tosca.

Opposite her, as Mario Cavaradossi, was the Sicilian tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano, also new here in this part. Mr. Di Stefano's is a beautiful lyric tenor in the best Italian tradition. He phrases with taste and his tone is caressing in its purity and texture. His "E lucevan le stele" was the work of an artist, and the audience gave vent to a second ovation. Mr. Di Stefano also brings much dignity and a touch of restraint to his portrait of the Roman painter. Both he and Miss Tebaldi have the smoldering temperament, capable of bursting into sudden flame that "Tosca" calls for.

Paul Schoeffler was a dramatic Scarpia, obviously experienced in the role. He sang much of his music with suavity and power, though he appeared to tire in the gruelling second act.

Mr. Mitropoulos conducted the opera with great sensitivity and imagination. Some of the tempi seemed slow - very slow - and he gave both the tenor and soprano free rein to do as they wished in their arias. However, the artistry of the singers justified his generous support. Much of the orchestral texture sounded luminously lovely under the Greek maestro's beat.

George Cehanovsky, Louis Sgarro, Cifford Harvout, Peter Mark, Gerhard Pechner and Alessio De Paoliss were admirably cast in supporting roles.

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