[Met Performance] CID:82000
Tosca {167} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/13/1922.

(Opening Night {38}
Giulio Gatti-Casazza, General Manager
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 13, 1922
Opening Night {38}

Giulio Gatti-Casazza, General Manager


TOSCA {167}
Puccini-Illica/Giacosa

Tosca...................Maria Jeritza
Cavaradossi.............Giovanni Martinelli
Scarpia.................Antonio Scotti
Sacristan...............Pompilio Malatesta
Spoletta................Giordano Paltrinieri
Angelotti...............Louis D'Angelo
Sciarrone...............Vincenzo Reschiglian
Shepherd................Cecil Arden
Jailer..................Robert Leonhardt [Last performance]

Conductor...............Roberto Moranzoni

Director................Armando Agnini
Set designer............Mario Sala

Tosca received seven performances this season.

Review of Oscar Thompson in Musical America

OPERA RESUMES GLITTERING SWAY AS METROPOLITAN OPENS NEW YEAR

With Well-Worn "Tosca" as First-Night Lure, Huge Audience Possesses Most of Brilliance of Inaugural. Jeritza, Martinelli and Scotti Delineate Chief Rôles in Familiar Way - Exciting Second Act Again Rivets Attention, But Performance Has More of Dramatic Intensity Than Vocal Beauty

Opera resumed its glittering sway Monday night when the Metropolitan began another season of twenty-three weeks with a mettlesome performance of Puccini's well-worn "Tosca." The cast, which included Maria Jeritza, Giovanni Martinelli and Antonio Scotti, was not one to proffer surprises, and as the Puccini transmogrification of the Sardou drama does not lend itself to stage pageantry, most of the glitter was in the audience.

Since the opera opening has always been regarded as an event of social éclat and sartorial splendor rather than one of any momentous musical import, the first nighters used their glasses quite as much as their auditory faculties and found all quite as it should have been. The promenade between acts had its customary show of jewels, gowns and wraps, and there was the congestion and the press without which no opening night would be itself. Half a row of additional seats increased the number of those who listened from the dress circle, and clipped off just that much room from the space into which the standees were crammed.

In the twenty-one years "Tosca" has been domiciled at the Metropolitan it has fretted and stormed itself threadbare. Even that saturnalia of brutality, the musically arid second act, had lost its fascinations for many of the habitués of the opera house - though newcomers and the Italomaniacs came always in droves to be harrowed by it - until Mme. Jeritza thrust a new and very vivid personality to it. Her popular triumph in the role last season resulted in extra performances, and "Tosca" led all works of the repertoire with nine representations. The Monday night subscribers did not happen to hear the new luminary in it, and this was one of the reasons given for its selection as this season's inaugural opera. The work did similar duty on the first night of the season of 1919-20, when Miss Farrar, Mr. Caruso and Mr. Scotti were its constellatory trio. Opening nights, in spite of popular opinion to the contrary, are seldom exciting, since the audience is much less concerned than ordinarily with what takes place behind the footlights. Monday night's throng reacted clamantly but briefly to Mme. Jeritza's prostrate singing of "Vissi d'Arte" and was fairly demonstrative at the end of the act; but here was no such tumult as the same incidents stirred at the time of Viennese soprano's first appearance in the role at the Metropolitan.

The performance on the whole had more of dramatic intensity than it had of good singing. Mr. Martinelli evidently saw no need for stint in the matter of tone and progressed from "Recondita Armonia" to "E Lucevan le Stelle" under high pressure. Mr. Scotti's malefic Scarpia, though it has grown more violent with passing years, was again what it has been from the first, one of the most superb examples of operatic portraiture. Vocally, the most strenuous parlando has replaced most of the singing he once gave to the more grateful phrases of his music.

No less statuesque of figure, if somewhat rounder of face than last season, Mme. Jeritza's was again a blonde Floria, in contradiction of the line "e bruna Floria" in Cavaradossi's "Recondita Armonia," in which the tenor compares her dark beauty to the fairness of the Attavanti. Her singing disclosed no change from that of a year ago in the role - it lacked the toysome plasticity for the flirtatious "Ora Sentir" and the succeeding duet with Mario in the first act, and seldom had real warmth of tone, though it conveyed terror, despair and anguish in the keenest accents. It tended toward stridency when power was applied and it was not free of the soprano's familiar "coup de glotte." But it had a dynamic intensity which was more appropriate to the music of opera's most effective scene - that horripilating third act - than nectarean sweetness would have been.

Like her sensational roll down the steps in "Cavalleria Rusticana," Mme. Jeritza's recumbent delivery of "Vissi d'Arte" has taken on the aspects of a palpable stage trick, now that its novelty is gone. Undoubtedly it serves to bridge over an awkward hiatus in an act that otherwise is all motion, but the excitement of any such device is largely dissipated by familiarity with it.

Cecil Arden sang the music of the unseen Shepherd prettily. Pompillio Malatesta as the Sacristan, Giordano Paltrinieri as Spoletto, Louis d'Angelo as Angelotti, Robert Leonhardt as the Jailer and Vincenzo Reschiglian as Sciarrone completed a competent cast. Roberto Moranzoni conducted with no fear of the brass or the drums, but with more respect for the voices than at some other performances of "Tosca." The orchestra played with its accustomed richness of tone.

Although "Tosca" has not yet been given the new investiture it needs, in common with "Aida" and one or two other of the operas which achieve the most performances in the course of a season, no fault could be found with the stage craft of Monday night's performance. It had all the traditional smoothness of the Metropolitan.



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