[Met Performance] CID:255870
Tosca {621} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/13/1978.

(Debut: Tito Gobbi (Director)
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 13, 1978


TOSCA {621}
Puccini-Illica/Giacosa

Tosca...................Shirley Verrett
Cavaradossi.............Luciano Pavarotti
Scarpia.................Cornell MacNeil
Sacristan...............Fernando Corena
Spoletta................Andrea Velis
Angelotti...............John Cheek
Sciarrone...............Russell Christopher
Shepherd................Robert Sapolsky
Jailer..................Philip Booth

Conductor...............James Conlon

Director................Tito Gobbi [Debut]
Designer................Rudolf Heinrich
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler

Tosca received twenty-four performances this season.

Revival gift of Carillon Importers, Ltd.

Review of Robert Jacobson in the February 24, 1979 issue of Opera News

The more popular and perennial "Tosca" returned December 13 with a new Floria and Mario in the persons of Shirley Verrett and Luciano Pavarotti, the production newly directed by Tito Gobbi. It would be pleasant to report that all this star power produced memorable Puccini, but it did not. Gobbi's staging - even to the point of altering Rudolf Heinrich's sets - reverted to unimaginative traditional ways, creating little cumulative drama and conveying no real point of view. Things were not aided by James Conlon's draggy tempos, which reduced much of the score to slow motion without creating any tension or igniting dramatic fires, instead meticulously concentrating on musical detail.

Miss Verrett, singing her first-ever Tosca, showed that she had quite a way to go until a total idea of the role would be realized. She tended to seem remote and unmotivated, despite her intelligent, careful study of the role and breathtaking physical beauty. Vocally she missed expansiveness in midrange, the sound lacking fullness, too, as it ascended to the top and, generally, without ring. Ultimately, she appears to remain a mezzo attempting soprano tessitura and with mixed results, her Italian pronunciation often suffering. Her "Vissi d'arte" was a triumph of concentration and sheer willpower - driven on top, without plushness, with registers not always knit. Pavarotti's tenor has not found a balm in heavier repertory, for his basic quality remains that of a lyric, without heft and now tending to lose the bloom on top. "E lucevan le stele" proved his best moment as he spun out a securely elegant line and concentrated, pure tone. Unfortunately, he chose to play this political revolutionary as a buffo character, clowning through Act I with his paints and losing the sense of heroic ardor as, instead, he shamelessly sought the public's affection. Cornell MacNeil had benefited from his work with Gobbi, giving a detailed, viciously sinister portrayal of Scarpia, which he filled out with authentic Italianate sound. Fernando Corena added his always adroit and amusing Sacristan.



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