[Met Performance] CID:260810
Tosca {649} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/13/1980.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 13, 1980


TOSCA {649}

Tosca...................Carol Neblett
Cavaradossi.............Ermanno Mauro
Scarpia.................Matteo Manuguerra
Sacristan...............Mario Bertolino
Spoletta................Paul Franke
Angelotti...............James Courtney
Sciarrone...............Russell Christopher
Shepherd................Charles Fairweather
Jailer..................Philip Booth

Conductor...............Nello Santi

Review of Speight Jenkins in the Post

Met's new 'Tosca' is for the pits

Just because Puccini composed operas easily accessible to the general public does not mean that his works should be treated tastelessly. That lesson has, unfortunately, not come home to anyone associated with last night's "Tosca" at the Metropolitan Opera. Last night the opera had three new principals and a new conductor, and my dissatisfaction began with the pit. Nello Santi led the same kind of "Tosca" he did when he was last at the Met, three years ago: fast, loud and coarse. Indeed his whole approach must have stimulated everyone onstage - even the secondary singers - to make the evening a combination of "Anything you can sing, can sing louder" and a parody of overacting.

Carol Neblett's splendid figure suited the title role, and her large soprano sounded healthy and strong. She took each of Tosca's nine high C's with ease, squaring back and raising the rafters with the one in the difficult passage in Act III when she describes to Cavaradossi how she killed Scarpia. But Tosca is not a shouting match, and she ignored many of the dynamics that Puccini carefully specified, not to mention the phrasing. Dramatically she overdid everything. Her jealousy would have driven anyone away; her melodramatic posturing made the silent movies understated.

Her Cavaradossi, Ermanno Mauro, sang most of his role forte. With such a fine voice it is hard to understand why he would, for instance, swallow the first "Vittoria" in Act II just to have a longer time betting out the high note of the second. His third act contained many more tasteful moments, but not enough to erase what had gone before. Matteo Manuguerra has a softer-grained baritone than is ideal for Scarpia. Most of the time he sang with more style than his colleagues, but occasionally he, too, began to strive for volume just for its own sake. And last, but not least, even the prompter got into the act. His shouted cues supplied an unnerving anticipation of what was coming throughout much of the evening.



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