[Met Performance] CID:42060
Tosca {52} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/21/1908.

(Reviews)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 21, 1908 Matinee


TOSCA {52}
Puccini-Illica/Giacosa

Tosca...................Emma Eames
Cavaradossi.............Enrico Caruso
Scarpia.................Antonio Scotti
Sacristan...............Concetto Paterna
Spoletta................Angelo Badà
Angelotti...............Paolo Ananian
Sciarrone...............Bernard Bégué
Shepherd................Maria Ranzow
Jailer..................Edoardo Missiano

Conductor...............Francesco Spetrino

Director................Jules Speck

Tosca received seven performances this season.

[Emma Eames' costumes were designed by Worth of Paris.]


Review of Algernon St. John-Brenon in the Telegraph

PUCCINI OPERA AT METROPOLITAN

Madame Eames as Tosca and Caruso as Cavaradossi in the Afternoon

Two Stirring Moments in the Performance of the Soprano

Yesterday afternoon the Metropolitan Opera House gave its own "Tosca" for the first time this year.

The Metropolitan's own "Tosca" implies a familiar but by no means contemptible cast, headed by the Grecian-haired (last act) and Directoired Emma Eames, and Caruso, the peerless one, who sang nearly every night last week. But the familiar cast was modified by certain newcomers - Francesco Spetrino, for instance, conducted. Mr. Spetrino hails from the city of Vienna and the orchestral assistantship to Mahler. What nobler pedigree could be sought?

Madame Eames' Tosca is by no means a perfect histrionic performance. It is far too Anglo-Saxon, too Puritan. It is easy to see that Madame Eames has excellent ideas to express, but is partly at a loss for the means to express them. Of course, she has not been through the hard, incessant schooling that makes your real actress. But she will not "fake" her acting. Emma Eames will always do things from herself, from her own heart and mind.

Such is her mental character. This has its good side. Although her acting is without flexibility, she nearly always has dignity, and often beautiful moments. These are the inevitable results of an absolute sincerity, for sincerity will sometimes achieve things which sophisticated skill succeeds elaborately in missing.

A Stirring Scene

These beautiful moments last night were the placing of the candles around the body of the dead Scarpia, and the utter abandonment of the way in which, when all was suddenly and cruelly revealed to her, she threw herself upon the body of the loved one so wickedly done to death.

Few of us will forget the picture she draws for artist to wonder at, when she throws herself over the ramparts of St. Angelo.

In a vocal sense she was in unusually good form. Her taste and cleverness in song can never be gainsaid, but yesterday she was in sufficiently good voice to sweeten the natural acridity of some of her more disappointing notes.

Mr. Scotti's Scarpia needs no further description. The strength of his impersonation lies in its unpleasantness. It remains a powerful performance - that is to say with relation to the relativities of opera.

In the part of the Shepherd the mellow and musical tones of Josephine Jacoby were not heard. The Shepherd, it will be remembered, carols away sweetly as the hundred bells of Rome toll out the hour of waking for the city and death for Cavaradossi. Instead of Josephine from the Vale of Sorek, there was for this part Miss Mary Randa of Valkyrian voice - that is to say German, voluminous and emphatic.

Two Dramatic Singers

Paul Ananian as Cesare Angelotti - the Silvio Pellico of opera - infused into his short part some touches of the wild pathos of the hunted man.

M. Paterna played the low comedy part of the Sacristan. The detail of the facial expression was unusually elaborated and decidedly dramatic, even if the voice itself was not of remarkable quality.

M. Caruso sang Cavaradossi with the usual happy results.





Unsigned review in the Brooklyn Standard Union

EAMES IN 'TOSCA' AT METROPOLITAN

It was Emma Eames turn at the Metropolitan Opera House yesterday afternoon and as nowadays she almost always makes both her debut and her farewell in "La Tosca," one may draw the conclusion that Puccini's conception of Sardou's lurid heroine is her favorite part. Certainly she looks the beautiful diva to the life and acts with tremendous force and feeling, and sings it as only Emma Eames can. There is no other role in which she interprets with such striking effect, except possibly its very antithesis, Elizabeth in "Tannhäuser.' In either one a daughter of the world, the other a servant of God, she creates the most complete illusion. Scotti, too, is at his very best in this opera, his Scarpia being as yet unsurpassed by that of any other baritone, even Renaud. In his hands the Chief of Police is plausible, not to say fascinating, despite the evil heart of him - because he is in a way extremely human. Honor and decency may be left out of his composition, but he falls prone before the charm of women. Beside Scarpia's elegant scoundrelism, carried out to the minutest detail of his unholy love for Tosca, such as wiping with his lace handkerchief the damp off his forehead or reinforcing himself though sips of wine, the role of Mario seems very colorless. To be sure Caruso, with all his sensuous singing, is never much of a lover, but Zenatello at the Manhattan, young, sweet-voiced and gallant, makes quite as poor a show, though both sing as though from the heavenly choir itself. With all his strenuous exertions this week, three operas three days running, Caruso's rich and vibrant tenor gave a good account of itself, and may it long continue to be such a tower of strength at the Broadway house. If only its owner had some idea of how to express feeling without a boo-hoo in the middle of his phrases! Both in "Tosca" and "Pagliacci" one learns to dread the moment when Caruso considers it necessary to indicate that his is bowed down by weight of woe. Yet as long as people will clap over that howl, which yesterday became a squeal, the grand tenor will continue to deal it forth.

As for Puccini, one questions whether the present penchant for him can be long-lived. "La Tosca" is the most important thing he has done, but such a theme needs a so much more forceful treatment to be truly effective - as treatment as powerful as Mascagni has given to "Cavalleria Rusticana. or Wagner to "Götterdämmerung" - in that way only could so much blood and lust make a lasting impression. As it is now, the whole affair, bereft of sustained musical power, borders on cheap melodrama, and thereby fails of the tragedy, which is the composer's intent. And Mr. Spetrino, even with that excellent orchestra, is not the conductor to fill in the gaps or heal the wounds. Mahler's assistant is just that - his "assistant" - and imitates the failings of his superior rather than his great merits. He shies at a climax, he leans always toward constraint and timidity - he has not the courage, apparently, to let himself go.

But the occasion was notable just the same, with an immense audience, and Emma Eames literally buried in flowers.



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