Puccini's Tosca

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sondra Radvanovsky as Tosca Sondra Radvanovsky as Tosca (Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)

"For a soprano, you really have to have everything to sing this role," says soprano Sondra Radvanovsky of Tosca.

Tune in on Saturday as Radvanovsky continues in her star turn in Tosca, a role she is performing for the first time at the Met this season. The controversial production by Luc Bondy returns to the Met stage, but not as the director had originally conceived it.

When the production had its season-opening premiere in 2009, with its stark sets and bawdy staging, audiences loudly rejected the production team when they took their bows. The show created such a stir that the Met briefly considered bringing back its previous production by Franco Zeffirelli, which enjoyed a 24-year-long run.

The current Tosca is still Bondy's, but the director has returned this season to instigate a wide number of changes and work with this new cast, all to broadly positive reviews. Yet all the hoopla begs the question: How many liberties can a director take with a classic? Or, are critics and audiences too hamstrung by a sense of deference to great works? Check our slideshow and weigh in with your comments below.

The Cast

Conductor: Marco Armiliato
Tosca: Sondra Radvanovsky
Cavaradossi: Marcelo Álvarez
Scarpia: Falk Struckmann
Sacristan: Paul Plishka

The new production of Tosca
Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
Luc Bondy's production of Tosca

The new production of Tosca

The new production of Tosca
Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
Luc Bondy's production of Tosca

The new production of Tosca

Comments [12]

concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Boy I really tweaked some noses out there. Salty comments occasionally are refreshing, don't you think. I know all about the hard work involved in producing operas, that is why I will never boo or catcall a performance as they do in Europe. But tickets are very expensive and we deserve to see artists that can act as well as sing and not be too obese. Yes, obese is a more delicate word rather than the other term I used. Don't be so touchy.

Jan. 30 2011 07:51 AM
Tom Ligon from NYC

I was shattered by the first rate "Vissi d'arte" by SONDRA RADVANOVSKY on today's Metropolitan Opera broadcast. Frankly, I could not make it through the rest of the opera and had to go outside to breathe.

Jan. 30 2011 05:00 AM
DameGabrielle from Newport RI

Sorry Elmont NY to refer to Marcello as tubby and the also as fat slobs is right down cruel. You might love opera as I do but attacking the singers physical looks?? Many of our ladies are more than hefty and such. It doesn;t give right to call them slobs. Darkening someone door step also is a bit harsh. Singers work very hard and under a lot of stress.. Sensitive Henry? No I don't think he is.. I think one should be somewhat diplomatic in theur approach. Many people don't even attempt the arts in fear of people like you Elmont NY!
I also agree the singing was quite moving.
The production is ridiculous without a doubt. Amazing the Zefferelli set being retired for this.
By the way yes I do agree with shame on the director and such but more so the Met for letting happen!!

Jan. 29 2011 04:42 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane from BOONTON, NJ

SONDRA RADVANOVSKY's TOSCA as heard on today's "Met" broadcast has an outstandingly sumptuous vocal timbre and acts well within the singing line. Her voice she produces intelligently with nuanced expressions within a well controlled, full-voiced unbroken vocal line. SHE IS TOPS !!!

Jan. 29 2011 04:23 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Dear Henry from Brooklyn,
I do not think I was boorish, merely honest. I bet, I bet, that there were viewers out there when the opera was telecast that thought the same thing. We are a little too dainty with our criticisms. As for great Scarpias, Sherril Milnes was actually seductive in this role, as was Leo Nucci, both of whom where great singing actors. Don't be so sensitive. The Tosca sounded like she might be coming down with a cold but some lovely singing. We can be a little down to earth with our criticisms. I love opera, since I was nine years old. Would go to the library and get the scores so that I could read the librettos during the broadcasts. Best wishes

Jan. 29 2011 03:41 PM
Howard L Levin from Jersey City. NJ

Sondra Radvanovsky has today joined the great Toscas of the world. Her interpretation is hearfelt and gripping. Today she joins Maria Callas as one the most effective Toscas I have heard in my nearly 75 years on this earth.
Her "Vissi d'arte" brought tears to my eyes.
She is a great diva.

Jan. 29 2011 03:03 PM
phyllis tobin from Hillside, NJ

Saw Tosca for the first time this summer in the plaza on HD. Astonishing and wonderful. Saw it live last Tuesday evening at the Met. Equally astonishing and wonderful. Listening now to better learn the glorious music. Knowing no previous production I think this is simply celestial.

Jan. 29 2011 03:02 PM
henry from brooklyn, ny

Opera should constantly try to change. I saw this newest production at the Met earlier this month, and I agree with the boorish woman from Elmont, NY, regarding the second act's use of prostitutes on the stage with Scarpia rather than him being alone and lusting for Tosca is a bad production move. There SHOULD NOT be any prostitutes in the scene. Laughing and seductive prostitutes onstage takes away from the audience, the singular desire of SCARPIA'S TO NEED TO POSSESS TOSCA! Why change that? ? Also, not having Tosca place candelabras at the head of Scarpia's dead body before leaving the room changes the audience's perception of Tosca's sensitivity and gentleness. I don't like that.
change at all.
I've seen a more modern Tosca where Scarpia was a Nazi. I saw a mdern La Boheme. Great Voices though, especially Tosca.

Jan. 29 2011 02:48 PM
Marcia from Caldwell

Horrible production! Who ever suggested bringing back the wonderful Zeffarelli production should have prevailed. Happily, I am listening and not watching. The music remains the main attraction for me.

Jan. 29 2011 02:02 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

No Ira, this Scarpia is not frightening but revolting. The soprano sounds a little forced so far but a lovely voice. Tubby Marcello has a beautiful voice as well. Please someone tell him to lose some weight so that he can go back to being the handsome man he was. As for today's Scarpia, I wish he would leave town and darken someone else's opera house. No nuances. Puccina deserves better. He was a theatre man as well as composer. I am being civil.

Jan. 29 2011 01:29 PM
Howard L. Levin from Jersey City, NJ

The Luc Bondy production was disappointing after the many years of Zeferelli's luxurious and literal production. Bur we cannot see it via the radio...and must limit our comments to the performance: the singing and acting. I look forward to hearing Radvanofsky as the diva. I was not at all impressed with last season's blonde Tosca. The only blonde Tosca I can accept and remember is Eleanor Steber whom I saw with Tucker and London many years ago.
Today's Floria is being well served by Radvanofsky, at least in Act I. This is a visually unfortunate production. But the singing and acting MUST take first place, especially in Bondy's unfortunate interpretation.

Jan. 29 2011 01:27 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

This opera is lurid, melodramatic and WONDERFUL. But this production is a crime. The Mario and Scarpia are the same from the telecast last year. What a bunch of fat slobs. Mr. Alvarez used to be a handsome man. The baritone cannot sing nor can he act. He came across as a real thug, which the character is but there were no nuances to the role. His attitude while on stage was "Look at me." Yeah, I looked and did not like what I saw. It was not necessary for the Met to trash this opera like they did. And the second act which opened with two prostitutes in Scarpia's apartment made me turn off my tv. I can only imagine how the rest of the act played out. Shame on you stage director and set designer.

Jan. 29 2011 11:10 AM

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