[Met Performance] CID:64250
Tosca {119} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/4/1916.

(Debut: Claudia Muzio

Metropolitan Opera House
December 4, 1916

TOSCA {119}

Tosca...................Claudia Muzio [Debut]
Cavaradossi.............Enrico Caruso
Scarpia.................Antonio Scotti
Sacristan...............Pompilio Malatesta
Spoletta................Angelo Badà
Angelotti...............Giulio Rossi
Sciarrone...............Bernard Bégué
Shepherd................Sophie Braslau
Jailer..................Vincenzo Reschiglian

Conductor...............Giorgio Polacco

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

Tosca received eight performances this season.

Review of Max Smith in the New York American


Not many years ago little Claudia Muzio used to watch her father and mother as they stood in the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera House and wondered with the innocence of a child, why they never were permitted to be the heroes and heroines of the world operatic. Last night the father and mother saw little Claudia, now grown into a tall and handsome woman, sharing honors with the great Caruso on the very stage where they had spent so many of the best days in their life-saw her appearing before the huge curtain of gold and receiving the plaudits of one of the biggest and most brilliant gatherings that had ever assembled in the proud lyric theatre on Broadway.

What wonder that the hearts of these two good people welled ever with pride and happiness as they gazed on the daughter in whose triumphs their own unfulfilled longings at last were realized! What wonder, too, that all the members of the Metropolitan Opera Company-and the employees of the house-that even the general manager Giulio Gatti-Casazza, so dignified and so placid in his bearing-felt the grip and tug of something that no one could resist in contemplating the joy of the parents. It was not the first time, to be sure, that Claudia had given proof of her talents though it marked her first appearance in America. Without the experience she had gained in the course of a few short years on the other side of the Atlantic-where she had even appeared successfully in London's Covent Garden together with her distinguished associate of yesterday-one could hardly have faced the ordeal of an important debut with the assurance and the self-control which she manifested on this occasion.

To her, however, as well as to her father and mother, no previous experience-not even her first venture on the stage-brought such a strange and overwhelming sense of delight as the applause that greeted her performance of Tosca last night in the home of her childhood. That she had won the enthusiastic approval of the crowd she must have known before she answered numerous curtain calls at the end of the first act with Enrico Caruso and Antonio Scotti, who as usual impersonated the Mario and Scrapia of Puccini's blood-curdling opera. For already, after the first scene in which she and her tenor associate played admirably into each other's hands, was she compelled to bow her acknowledgment to a demonstrative outburst that compelled Maestro Polacco to hold up the performance until she had made a belated exit.

But Signora Muzio did not discover before the second act how sweeping a success she had achieved. Her singing of the "Vissi d'arte," following a highly dramatic performance of the preceding scene with Scotti, evoked a veritable storm of hand-clapping and a few minutes later, when she appeared alone before the curtain, she was welcomed with a roar of noise such as one seldom hears in the Metropolitan Opera House, especially on a Monday night.

Extended critical comment regarding Claudia Muzio's performance may be deferred. There can be no question, however, that she is a woman of unusual talent, and there is every likelihood that she will prove to be a valuable addition to Giulio Gatti-Casazza's company. Her voice is a lyric soprano, somewhat too light in texture for such a role as Tosca and apparently rather limited in range. But it was not her voice, with its somewhat cutting high tones, nor her singing, in itself supported on extremely clear diction, but marred occasionally by characteristically Latin extravagances of utterance, that counted so much in her impersonation of Sardou's heroine as the theatrical blood that throbs in her veins.

This Tosca, to be sure, was not the noble figure whom Milka Ternina set up for us as the standard. She indulged in physical contortions and facial distortion that hardly represented a high form of histrionic art. But Signorina Muzio is young and no doubt will temper in time. Some of her melodramatic exaggerations and over-accentuated artificialities as it is, her portrayal, though not without faults, cannot be passed over lightly. It is probably the most vehement, the most essentially Italian, in interpretation of the role habitues of the Metropolitan Opera House have ever seen.

Altogether the performance of "Tosca" under Polacco's invigorating baton was an exceptionally good one. Rarely in recent years has Enrico Caruso sung as impressively as he did last night, and rarely has Antonio Scotti given a more masterful embodiment of the villainous Baron. The cast included Giulio Rossi, as Angolotti; Malatesta, as the sacristan; Bada, as Spoletta; Begue, as Sciarone; Reschiglian, as the jailer and Sophie Braslau, as the Shepherd.

Review of Henry E. Krehbiel in the Tribune


Signora Muzio Wins Her Audience in "Tosca" at the Metropolitan

The appearance of a young, talented and beautiful singer in the ranks of the Metropolitan Opera Company last night and the obvious interest felt in her debut by her associates acted as an inspiration at the first performance of this season of Puccini's "Tosca." Unfortunately the inspiration vented itself in the case of Signor Polacco in a disclosure of a common conception nowadays, that emotional intensity has its chief expression in loudness, and so, along with a fine exposition of the force and beauty of Sardou's play and Puccini's melodramatic music, we had an unconscionable amount of musical rudeness against which the newcomer had to strive, to the detriment of what we are disposed to think are the best of the fine accomplishments and gifts which she possesses.

The newcomer was Signora Claudia Muzio, to some extent, as her story told in the newspapers last Sunday, a product of the local operatic stage. The young artist disclosed herself as obviously a product of the modern Italian school, but as yet comparatively unspoiled. She has youth and comeliness on her side; but they are not of her making, admirable and advantageous as they are going to be in her career. What is more to the purpose is that she has a voice that is warm and sympathetic in quality, responsive to emotional impulses, ample in volume, and much more powerful in appeal because of its timbre when produced without a straining for vulgar theatrical effects than when forced to contend against the exaggerated pathos in the high pitched key of passion that prevailed at last night's representation.

To the tips of her fingers the young woman is an actress; plastic in pose and gesture, unconsciously conscious of what is essential to show forth the innermost of the character which she is impersonating. Had she not been overwhelmed by the strenuous conception of the conductor it would have been possible to say today, what will probably be said in sober truth before the end of the season, that in her Floria Tosca she has added another portrait to the small gallery of truly representative dramatic characters which the Metropolitan institution has placed on exhibition during the generation in which it has been in existence.

One of those portraits Mr. Scotti held up to popular and critical observation last night. Some of the others are Ternina's Tosca, Niemann's Siegmund, Jean de Reszke's Romeo, Marianne Brandt's Ortrud, Miss Farrar's Goose Girl and Lilli Lehmann's Sieglinde. The list is not complete, but such as it is cited to indicate the character of the expectations which Signorina Muzio's performance aroused last night.

Splendid to a degree was the cooperation of Signor Caruso and Signor Scotti in the success of their youthful associate. Neither of the gentlemen ever put a finer bit of work to his credit, and theirs was the satisfaction of seeing the newcomer win a triumph the likes of which has not been seen at the Metropolitan since Miss Bori first sang in "L'amore dei tre Re."

Photographs of Claudia Muzio by Herman Mishkin

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