[Met Performance] CID:176360
Tosca {374} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/5/1957.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 5, 1957


TOSCA {374}

Tosca...................Zinka Milanov
Cavaradossi.............Carlo Bergonzi
Scarpia.................Leonard Warren
Sacristan...............Gerhard Pechner
Spoletta................Paul Franke
Angelotti...............Clifford Harvuot
Sciarrone...............Osie Hawkins
Shepherd................George Keith
Jailer..................Ezio Flagello

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

Review of Jay S. Harrison in the Herald Tribune

As Rudolf Bing pointed out in a pre-curtain announcement last night, it is one of the glories of the Metropolitan Opera, that a cancellation by one of the world's major artists leads only to the substitution of another singer of equivalent celebrity.
Thus, on the occasion of the company's presentation of Puccini's "Tosca" - given as a benefit for the Bagby Music Lovers' Foundation - Zinka Milanov assumed the title role in the absence of Renata Tebaldi, who is mourning the recent death of her mother.

Miss Milanov, in her first attempt at the role this season, appeared opposite Carlo Bergonzi who sang his initial Cavaradossi at the house. Completing the cast, under Dimitri Mitropoulos' leadership, were Leonard Warren as Scarpia, Gerhard Pechner as the Sacristan, Clifford Harvuot as Angelotti and Paul Franke, Osie Hawkins, Ezio Flagello and George Keith.

All things weighed, La Milanov was in rare form, and her impersonation of Puccini's diva has grown in both depth and consequence. She is no longer vocally aggressive to the point of reading the role's passionately human elements out of existence, and, in fact, her portrayal was quite the warmest - nay, the smoochiest - she has ever offered. At any rate, during the first act she lavished on Mr. Bergonzi such a wealth of pecks, kisses and embraces as the great soprano has not bestowed upon a tenor in this writer's recall.

Good for her! Tosca, is in love and likes it; there is no reason for her to treat her leading man as though he were a carrier of the Black Death. Miss Milanov's behavior, though it is not in the glacial Tosca tradition, makes the character seem intensely real, and her distraught manner of the second act becomes, as a result, understandable and an object of genuine pity.

Moreover. Miss Milanov mostly sang with exactly that beauty of tone and coloristic resource which has in the past driven competitors to the brink of hemlock. Phrases floated like feathers and her voice was throughout clear and clarion. So too, for that matter, was Mr. Begonzi's. The demands of Cavaradossi find him much at ease, even his [first] air, "Recondite armonia," being negotiated with no sign that the opera had only just begun. While it is quite true that his characterization has no especial dramatic focus or urgency, his singing was consistently limpid and lovely, and even his habit of drawing out sustained, high tones beyond their proper metric count did not eradicate an otherwise happy impression.

He managed, indeed, to hold his own commendably well against Miss Milanov. One can scarcely praise a tenor more liberally than that.



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