[Met Performance] CID:314140
Tosca {758} Metropolitan Opera House: 10/12/1993.


Metropolitan Opera House
October 12, 1993

TOSCA {758}

Tosca...................Maria Guleghina
Cavaradossi.............Emil Ivanov
Scarpia.................Sherrill Milnes
Sacristan...............François Loup
Spoletta................Charles Anthony
Angelotti...............Herbert Perry
Sciarrone...............Bradley Garvin
Shepherd................Franz Musial-Aderer
Jailer..................LeRoy Lehr

Conductor...............Julius Rudel

Review of Bruce Michael Gelbert in the New York Native

Troubled Tosca
Sherrill Milnes made his Scarpia a chilling, menacing chief of police

During the first weeks of the new Metropolitan Opera season, performances of Giacomo Puccini's popular "Tosca" featured Ukranian-born soprano Maria Guleghina, who made such a strong impression in the Kirov Opera's "Queen of Spades" here in the summer of 1992. A youthful, impetuous, and volatile Tosca, Guleghina displayed the remembered full, pure, and dusky middle range in "Non la sospiri la nostra casetta" in Act One. High C, in Acts Two and Three, however, sometimes eluded her grasp. If she came perilously close to silent movie-style cringing and contorting, as she suffered along with Cavaradossi's torments and evaded Scarpia's unwelcome attentions, she aptly alternated fire and despair in early confrontations with the manipulative police chief and exuded power and assurance when she demanded the safe conduct and, later, told her lover of the murder she had committed.

In his "Recondita armonia" Emil Ivanov, from Rome, as Cavaradossi, disclosed a constricted low range and thin or pressured and spread upper register. Although he and Guleghina failed to generate much heat in the Act One love duet, the tenor soon brought passion to his fulminations against Scarpia in the scene with Angelotti. He capped this exchange, though, with a scrappy high B and parted company with conductor Julius Rudel during his exit music. While Ivanov's cry of "Vittoria, Vittoria" boasted raw power and "E lucevan le stele" did not want for feeling, both were short on polish. In his favor, this Cavaradossi, listlessly echoing Tosca's "Libere" and "Via pel mar," evinced little belief that he would leave prison alive and only humored Tosca as she planned their future.

Belying an elegant appearance, Sherrill Milnes made his Scarpia a chilling, menacing chief of police from the start. He was suitably unctuous when he greeted Tosca and worked hard to hold audience attention as masses of worshipers and procession participants gathered at the end of Act One. Despite a seriously worn instrument, Miles was riveting in Act Two when there were fewer distractions. François Loup, as the Sacristan, was fittingly fussy, grumpy, jolly and cowering by turns. Herbert Perry was the exceptionally expressive and resonant Angelotti and dependable veteran Charles Anthony played Spoletta.

Rudel's reading of "Tosca" was on the slow side and the orchestral volume he elicited for "Vissi d'arte" made it anything but the moment of repose during the turbulence of Act Two that it should be.

Giving 'Tosca" in openly gay designer Franco Zeffirelli's opulent production, the Met has, this season, restored a gratuitous change of setting for "E lucevan." Courtesy of the stage elevator, we move indoors to Cavaradossi's prison cell, surrounded by massive columns, arches, and ancient debris.

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