New York Times, April 15, 2010
Tosca, Metropolitan Opera, 14. April 2010
What You Won’t See in ‘Tosca’ This Time Around
Remember Luc Bondy’s new production of “Tosca,” the one that opened the Metropolitan Opera’s season in September, the one that elicited the loudest boos for a production team heard at the Met in years? Well, it’s back. But the cast is new, and utterly fabulous.The inexplicably underrated soprano Patricia Racette is a deeply affecting and impassioned Tosca; the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann triumphs as Cavaradossi, singing by turns with smoldering intensity, burnished power and poignant pianissimo phrasing; and the towering bass-baritone Bryn Terfel is a menacing Scarpia.

The individual performances are so arresting I didn’t much notice Mr. Bondy’s convoluted staging. And actually, with Mr. Bondy himself absent from the scene for these return performances of “Tosca,” it was clear on Wednesday night that the singers have taken charge of some things. More power to them!

“Tosca” devotees will still be incensed that the Bondy production ignores some crucial stage directions that are inscribed in the score. After the desperate Tosca stabs Scarpia, you will not see her ritualistically place candles as the sides of his sprawling dead body nor a crucifix on his chest. Instead, Mr. Bondy’s Tosca uses the final minutes of Act 2, with the tensely subdued music in the orchestra, to collect herself, let the reality of what she has done sink in, and recline on the much-maligned red couch in Scarpia’s room to assess her options. Of course, you will still want to shout out her: “Get out of there! What are you doing? Scarpia’s men could burst in at any moment! You have a boyfriend to rescue!” But Ms. Racette pulls off the conceit as well as it could be done.

But there are other things you will not see for which you can thank the cast. During the “Te Deum” at the end of Act 1, Mr. Terfel exudes lust and thwarted desire for Tosca, and makes defiant sacrilegious gestures at the statue of the Madonna. But, to the relief of many on Wednesday, he stopped short of straddling the statue of the Blessed Virgin, as the sadly uncomfortable baritone George Gagnidze was made to do on opening night.

There was a lighting miscue and a glitch at the end of the show when Tosca leaped to her death from the parapet of the Castel Sant’Angelo. As conceived by Mr. Bondy, Tosca flees inside a tower and then, in a fleeting image, a body-double Tosca is seen suspended in free fall. There was no body double on this night, and no leap. But I preferred the glitch, which left the leap to the imagination, to Mr. Bondy’s clunky and dumb original staging touch.

In any event, this leap-less “Tosca” featured three exciting singers who are also skilled and instinctive actors.

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