[Met Performance] CID:286320
Tosca {704} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 10/25/1986.


Metropolitan Opera House
October 25, 1986 Matinee

TOSCA {704}

Tosca...................Eva Marton
Cavaradossi.............Plácido Domingo
Scarpia.................Juan Pons
Sacristan...............Italo Tajo
Spoletta................Andrea Velis
Angelotti...............Michael Smartt
Sciarrone...............Russell Christopher
Shepherd................Matthew Dobkin
Jailer..................Philip Booth

Conductor...............Garcia Navarro

Review of Peter Goodman in Newsday

Marton in 'Tosca,' After the Blow

The Second Act confrontation between Tosca and Scarpia is ordinarily the dramatic high point of any performance of Puccini's opera. Saturday afternoon the drama scaled particularly thrilling heights, for extra-musical reasons. Not only did the fiery prima donna duel emotionally with the sadistic, lascivious police chief, but the performance was also the first time soprano Eva Marton and baritone Juan Pons met on stage since he accidentally walloped her in the jaw during the [season's first] "Tosca" Monday night. Only the two principals can truly say what effect that encounter had on the performance, but it certainly meant an added surge for those in the audience.

Pons is a big, heavy-set man, and his Scarpia was a disturbing portrait of a man who dabs daintily at his lips with a napkin, blooms pleasurably at hearing beautiful music and casually gestures for the torture of his prisoners. Pons does not have a very big voice, however, and he was forced to push it quite a bit to stay anywhere near Mar-ton's voluminous sound. Marton herself did not appear hindered in any way by the previous week's injury. Her voice rolled like glowing lava over the orchestra and through the house. Her Tosca was a commanding personality visually and vocally, a woman whom Scarpia sought to break at his own peril.

All through the second act they fought: she to save her Cavaradossi (Placido Domingo), he to conquer them both. Marton was magnificent -not as tempestuous as some, but a proud, determined woman who knew just what this conflict was about. Her "Vissi d'arte" was a moan of blank despair. And her reaction to the death of Scarpia after one desperate thrust of her knife was stunning. Shaken by the sight of death, she trembled and could barely bring herself to approach the corpse. All the while, conductor Garcia Navarro worked understandingly with the singers. In the climax of the act, it was as if the orchestra went mad for a few bars.

Although Act II was the climax, it was a fine performance throughout. Tenor Domingo, overshadowed by the dramatics surrounding Marton and Pons, rose to the challenge. He seemed to be in some vocal trouble. He wiped his mouth all night and could be heard coughing and clearing his throat during parts of Act III. But, except for a moment of strain with Marton, he sang with his wonted clarity and strength, and made Cavaradossi as dignified a character as he could. He strode powerfully into Scarpia's firelit study during Act II and was convincingly exhausted afterward. On hearing of the victorious approach of Napoleon, Scarpia's enemy, he painfully drew himself up and bellowed out his "Vittoria!" Elsewhere in the cast, Italo Tajo has polished his Sacristan into a foxy, shrewd comic character. Michael Smartt tended to swallow his sounds at first as Angelotti, but he relaxed a bit as Act I continued.

The Franco Zeffirelli production remains as immense as ever, from the vaulting cathedral interior of Act I to the shadowy castle parapet of Act III. Extras continue to pass through the action as busily as on a movie set, but this time the main characters have the strength to overcome the distractions. Notably, Pons' Scarpia stepped to the foot of the stage to sing his lust for Tosca while the rest of the space filled with worshipers and cardinals at the end of Act I. From here, his characterization was riveting, even considering the relatively small size of his voice.

And Marton's Tosca was a woman to dream about about.

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