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Tosca, redux

For anyone who missed the live HD broadcast, the controversial Metropolitan Opera Tosca airs tonight on PBS (WETA in the Washington, DC area), at 9 p.m. The broadcast should demonstrate that Luc Bondy's staging is not really as shocking as people thought it was -- just not very inspired.

I find the uproar about this supposedly "radical" Tosca a bit amusing, since only a few years ago, in the Glimmerglass production that went on to New York City Opera -- a production that updated the action to the 1920s -- the director Mark Lamos had Scarpia actually pleasuring himself during the Te Deum. People evidently have very, very short memories, or labor under the misapprehension that the Met is the only opera house that counts, but if you want to get upset about indifferent updated "director's theater," I'd have thought the Lamos production offered a lot more fodder.

And since I've been on a Gidon Saks kick ever since this fall's Götterdämmerung, here's another Scarpia to fan the flames. (Yes, I Tweeted this a few weeks ago, but I think it bears watching again -- unless you hate Regietheater, of course.)

Edited to add: The San Francisco Chronicle's Joshua Kosman comments on the protest about the Tosca, after watching the video: "New Yorkers are a big bunch of weenies."

The thing that always gets me in these debates about Eurotrash: isn't the singing the most important thing? I can put up with a lot of directorial excess if the singing is as fine as Saks's is.

By Anne Midgette  |  December 16, 2009; 6:18 AM ET
Categories:  national , opera  
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Next: A tale of Met "Hoffmann"


Pure Eurotrash that has nothing to do with what Puccini created. It may not be fair to judge from the YouTube video, but this Scarpia struck me as threatening as an under-baked biscotti, projecting only his own sick self-absorption and nothing of the evil projected by a Tito Gobbi, who was all the more menacing for his outer elgance.

Posted by: wsheppard | December 16, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm waiting for the moment that the Post suits offer to send Ms. Midgette on a tour of summer European festivals each season. It's only fitting for the "World's Greatest (unedited) Newspaper" to act as one, right?

Anyway, she'd know what to do if she got the chance.

Posted by: JohnRDC | December 16, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

This is something that has nothing to do with the topic discussed, but with the NSO. When did they decide to do the Messiah in the Goosens arrangement, the one that was famously used by Sir Thomas Beecham in perhaps the greatest recpording ever of the piece? I have a brochure from the begining of the season and nothing like this is mentioned there.

Looking back on this blog, I see that it was mentioned here: Still, the NSO should be more transparent with program changes; they did the same thing with Joshua Bell and the Scottish Fantasy (replaced by Symphonie Espagnole.)

BTW, I regret not knowing about this sooner, as I initially decided to skip the NSO Messiah; now I will attend it....

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | December 16, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

No, with opera the singing is not the most important thing. The music drama is.

Now, according to PBS:

"Season 4 opens with Luc Bondy's staging of Puccini's "Tosca," starring soprano Karita Mattila as the title character, whose lover (Marcelo Álvarez) is arrested by a police chief (George Gagnidze) and threatened with death unless she gives herself to him."

Does she have to give herself to him with pleasure?



Posted by: snaketime1 | December 16, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

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