THE HANGOVER REPORT – The Met’s traditional new TOSCA excels in its casting

Sir David McVicar's new production of Puccini's "Tosca" for the Metropolitan Opera.

Sir David McVicar’s new production of Puccini’s “Tosca” for the Metropolitan Opera.

Tonight, I caught the highly anticipated but much-maligned (it lost two conductors and its three principals!) new staging of Puccini’s Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera. The production, which replaces Luc Bondy’s controversial version, is directed by one of the opera world’s most dependable directors, Sir David McVicar (his Il Trovatore is a favorite at the Met). Despite the off-stage controversy, I’m happy to report that Mr. McVicar’s decidedly traditional production is a success, particularly in terms of its first rotation of casting.

Mr. McVicar’s traditional, workmanlike staging here is reminiscent of the monumental (ahem, Zeffirelli-esque) Met productions of old. Designed by John Macfarlane, the new production is, luckily, perhaps a just a little bit more impressionistic and painterly than those productions. But where the production sets itself apart is the detail that’s lavished on the acting, particularly the nuances that are fleshed out in the relationships between the characters.

As mentioned, this opening cast is a dream. In the title role, soprano Sonya Yoncheva’s was in outstanding voice; her plush soprano sounded magnificent wrapped around Puccini’s endless flow of melodies. However, it was her acting that really impressed (I was agnostic regarding her somewhat bland, albeit beautifully-sung, Violetta at the Met) – hers is an utterly human Tosca that’s genuinely heartbreaking because of the empathy she elicits. As her passionate love interest Cavaradossi, thrilling tenor Vittorio Grigolo’s full throttle approach was just about perfection. And although he sounded a bit underpowered as the villainous Scarpia, smooth-toned bass-baritone Željko Lučić’s thoughtful acting made the role more than a cartoonish monster.

Finally, under the leadership of conductor Emmanuel Villaume, the magnificent Met Orchestra’s reading of Puccini’s score was fresh and spontaneous.



The Metropolitan Opera
3 hours (with two intermissions)
In repertory, with different casts, through May 12

Categories: Music, Opera, Other Music

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