[Met Performance] CID:243800
Tosca {589} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/31/1975.

(Dorothy Kirsten's 30th Anniversary

Metropolitan Opera House
December 31, 1975
In celebration of Dorothy Kirsten's thirtieth anniversary with the company

TOSCA {589}

Tosca...................Dorothy Kirsten
Cavaradossi.............John Alexander
Scarpia.................Tito Gobbi [Last performance]
Sacristan...............Fernando Corena
Spoletta................Charles Anthony
Angelotti...............Clifford Harvuot [Last performance]
Sciarrone...............Russell Christopher
Shepherd................Paul Offenkrantz
Jailer..................Edmond Karlsrud

Conductor...............Richard Woitach

Production..............Otto Schenk
Stage Director..........Bodo Igesz
Designer................Rudolf Heinrich

Langdon Van Norden, chairman of the board

Tosca received one performance this season.

[This performance was officially announced as Kirsten's farewell to the Met, but she later returned to sing Mimì in La Bohème and to repeat her Tosca. The onstage ceremony honoring the soprano preceded Act III.]

Review of Speight Jenkins in the New York Post

An opera singer is an athlete, and singing is a profession that usually comes to an end in the early 50s: musicianship and stage wisdom often grow more acute, but the vocal chords do not hold up. At the Metropolitan Opera. however, the last night of 1975 saw more than a few exceptions to the rule.

The occasion, which was made joyous by the Met's signing a 20-month contract with the orchestra marked the 30th anniversary with the company of Dorothy Kirsten. Also in the "Tosca" cast were several singers who came to the Met in the 50s as well as Clifford Harvout, the Angelotti, who made his debut in 1947.

Even more astonishing onstage was a gentleman who predates Miss Kirsten in the opera world. In what was probably his only Met appearance of this season, the great Italian baritone Tito Gobbi enacted his most famous role, Scarpia. Gobbi made his Met debut in 1956, but at the Rome Opera his voice was first heard in 1937.

The evening was Miss Kirsten's, however, and she brought to the role exactly the same qualities this listener remembers from her Toscas in the mid-50s. Hers is a spiky Tosca, in Act I a dead ringer for the heroine of the film "Swept Away," and one that Scarpia would have had some job taming even if she had not found a knife.

For someone who first sang at the Met 30 years and one month ago (Mimi in La Boheme," December 1, 1945), her voice was astonishing. All of Tosca's many high C's came out squarely and the approach of the role showed the love and concern Miss Kirsten has always lavished on Puccini.

In traditions honored in their exceptions these days, Miss Kirsten brought red roses onstage...and sang her intimate, properly introspective "Vissi d'arte" without ever rising from the floor.

In ceremonies after the second act, Martin E. Segal, the Mayor's cultural commissioner, again sparked the proceedings as he had with Roberta Peters' silver celebration a few weeks ago. He pointed out that only in the "unreality" of opera could the New Year begin with the President of the United States and the Mayor on the same side – both complimenting Miss Kirsten.

When Miss Kirsten spoke, she thanked the Mayor for the certificate of commendation and the Metropolitan (which through Met board chairman Langdon van Norden had presented her with a bracelet), rejoiced in the conclusion of the labor dispute and added, "I will sing as long as I sing well, which I hope is forever."

In "Tosca" Gobbi commanded the stage in his well loved and still definite Scarpia. His voice sounded surprisingly good, and yet elegance, a thin but real veneer over cruelty, was malevolent as always: one of this century's great performances still lives.

John Alexander served up a pallid and tired-sounding Cavaradossi, and Richard Woitach conducted. In the first act he was crisp and interesting; as the evening progressed things got a bit sluggish, but straightened out in Act III. The celebration ended in a glorious panoply of flowers for Miss Kirsten, and an enthusiastic ovation.

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