[Met Performance] CID:216180
New production
Tosca {490} Metropolitan Opera House: 10/4/1968.

(Debut: Otto Schenk

Metropolitan Opera House
October 4, 1968
Benefit sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera Guild
for the production funds
New production

TOSCA {490}

Tosca...................Birgit Nilsson
Cavaradossi.............Franco Corelli
Scarpia.................Gabriel Bacquier
Sacristan...............Fernando Corena
Spoletta................Andrea Velis
Angelotti...............Clifford Harvuot
Sciarrone...............Russell Christopher
Shepherd................Kris Kalfayan
Jailer..................Paul Plishka

Conductor...............Francesco Molinari-Pradelli

Production..............Otto Schenk [Debut]
Designer................Rudolf Heinrich

Production a gift of the Gramma Fisher Foundation, Marshalltown, Iowa

Tosca received twenty-seven performances this season.

Review of Winthrop Sargeant in The New Yorker

The Metropolitan Opera's new production of "Tosca," which was unveiled last Friday night, has its good and its bad points. The presence in the cast of Birgit Nilsson and Franco Corelli will unquestionably make it a best-seller - partly, I think because these are the two loudest singers to be heard today.

The new sets and costumes, by Rudolf Heinrich, unlike his sets for "Salome" and "Elektra," are agreeably realistic. Aside from a Mary Magdalene in a hoop skirt who appears in the painting Cavaradossi is creating in the first act (and don't argue with me that Cavaradossi is a nineteenth-century figure; nobody else in the fresco he was painting wore anything but Biblical clothing), I found the scenery entirely effective, if a little heavy.

As for the new Viennese director, Otto Schenk, who had devised the action, I was considerably disappointed in him. "Tosca" is a terrifying enough opera without having every point of terror exaggerated to an extent that would make it clear to a six-year old. I have never seen a production in which so much rolling on the floor and free-style wrestling occurred. The visual pun of making Scarpia look like Napoleon is not really very clever or elucidating. And it is, I think, a great mistake to spoil the end of the second act by making Tosca light the candles she places beside Scarpia's body. It introduces an air of deliberation in Tosca's part that is not consistent with her character. The candles should be an afterthought, stimulated by the sight of candles already lit.

There were also a good many episodes that I am sure Mr. Schenk was not responsible for. The corpse of Cavaradossi wagged its head and lifted an arm in the last act, and in the middle of the second act Gabriel Bacquier - good actor that he is - became so immersed in his role as Scarpia that he clearly enunciated the words, "Get up!" in English to Miss Nilsson when Spoletta knocked at the door, just as if he were caught in an embarrassing clinch in real life.

Miss Nilsson was costumed in a very feminine way and made a handsome heroine. She also sang superbly and, within the framework of Mr. Schenk's staging, acted with a great deal of conviction. Her "Vissi d'arte" was sung, as has been fashionable now and then since the time of Jeritza, as she lay on her stomach. Mr. Corelli acted when it did not interfere with the display of his voice. His "Vittoria, vittoria!" was delivered with the power appropriate to a wounded bull and was protracted beyond all rules of good taste, just to show how long his lung power could hold out. He also took all the meditative atmosphere out of "E lucevan le stelle," tearing it to shreds and bellowing a good part of it. However, it is only fair to note that his audience shouted and pounded its approval of this vocal weight-lifting.

Mr. Bacquier is an intelligent Scarpia if not the loudest one in the world, and he did what he could with what Mr. Schenk gave him. Fernando Corena was, as always, an outstanding Sacristan. The lesser roles were well done, and Francesco Molinari-Pradelli conducted a knowing performance.

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