[Met Performance] CID:225710
Tosca {539} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 06/05/1971.

(Debuts: Peter Glossop, James Levine
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
June 5, 1971 Matinee


TOSCA {539}

Tosca...................Grace Bumbry
Cavaradossi.............Franco Corelli
Scarpia.................Peter Glossop [Debut]
Sacristan...............Paul Plishka
Spoletta................Paul Franke
Angelotti...............Clifford Harvuot
Sciarrone...............Russell Christopher
Shepherd................René Mack
Jailer..................Edmond Karlsrud

Conductor...............James Levine [Debut]

Review of Speight Jenkins in the Dallas Texas Times Herald, datelined New York

Opera in the summer at the Metropolitan Opera House? Ten years ago the idea would have been unthinkable, but now the Met's June Festival has become a permanent fixture at the beginning of the New York summer. The operas come from the tour plus one or two others, and the list, which is sold on a nonsubscription basis, holds few surprises. The casts, however, contain a good many stars, and some interesting variety for the hometown aficionado or for the tourist.

By far the most unusual performance of the two-week festival this year was "Tosca." The Puccini opera saw two important debuts-conductor James Levine (pronounced with a long "i") and the English baritone Peter Glossop as Scarpia-and a United States first, mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry in the soprano title role. And, incidentally, Franco Corelli sang Cavaradossi.

The most exciting dividends came from Levine, who conducted the Dallas Symphony this season. His baton technique is clear; his rhythms radiate flexibility; and he brought to "Tosca" a dramatic tautness frequently missing in the Met's pit. Brass often came to the fore to emphasize Scarpia's cruelty; many of the score's instrumental details received a new focus. Levine should have a great career ahead of him; the Cincinnati-born maestro at only 28 had obviously won the respect of the choosy and temperamental Met orchestra.

Corelli, too, did not disappoint. After a slow winter, the tenor seems eager to improve his acting and to show his taste. "Vittoria!" rang out with that familiar, hot-blooded, animalistic urgency that is his trademark, but in his "E lucevan le stelle" the tenor succeeded in a sustained diminuendo that sounded sweet and true. Again, as in "Werther," Corelli seemed to be working not just giving a recital, and that's all it takes for him to electrify his listeners.

No one questions Miss Bumbry as either an actress or a beauty or a mezzo-soprano, but a soprano she isn't. Her Tosca looked marvelous; the familiar lines of the play came over with style and dramatic point. For instance, her murder scene had a Grand Guignol ferociousness as she almost shrieked "Muori" at Scarpia's still-agitated corpse. But the interesting area of Miss Bumbry's voice lies in the mezzo range; though she could sing almost all of Tosca's notes, she could not express anything with any of them. Her performance came off as a feat-not right, but interesting.

Glossop did not have a strong afternoon. Maybe Met debut nerves hit him, but his voice projected more bark than beauty, and his acting unlocked no new doors.

More interesting than the onstage activity was the audience reaction. Composed, I assume, of many who don't go to the opera during the year, these paying customers went wild with excitement. Bravos and enthusiastic applause came from every area of the house, and almost everyone stayed to applaud the singers. If only the average subscription audience could be like this one! Goran Gentele, who greeted well-wishers during the intermissions, must have been struck by the enthusiasm and casual dress. He wants these people in the house. How does he get them there in the regular season, and how is he going to keep them?



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