New York Post, April 16, 2010
James Jorden
Tosca, Metropolitan Opera, 14. April 2010
A tweaked 'Tosca' really sings
Oh, what a difference the details make -- and the right cast and conductor. This season's biggest bomb, Luc Bondy's production of "Tosca," has blossomed into one of the strongest stagings of this opera in decades.

Since the fall premiere, dozens of details have been tweaked in the critically lambasted staging of Puccini's thriller about a glamorous diva. Lights are brighter; the elegantly gowned Tosca no longer plops down on a filthy church floor -- and police chief Scarpia's Act 2 hooker four-way stops short of oral action.

An even happier improvement is the cast, especially Jonas Kaufmann as Tosca's lover, the artist Cavaradossi. His tenor is dark, even rough in places, but high notes are huge and meaty. In the love song "Recondita armonia," he faded the last note to a whisper, winning loud bravos.

As the lustful Scarpia, Bryn Terfel commanded the stage with the suave brutality of a James Bond villain, openly mocking Tosca after her prayer "Vissi d'arte." The sinewy tone of his rich bass-baritone made the atmosphere even eerier.

Beside these two giants, Patricia Racette's Tosca seemed almost miniature. Her shimmering, true soprano easily projected over the heavy orchestration, but she underplayed the extravagance of her diva character.

Of all the night's marvels, the greatest was conductor Fabio Luisi, subbing on 10 days' notice when Met music director James Levine was sidelined by back surgery.

Shaving minutes off each act with quicksilver tempos and razor-precise transitions, he discovered haunting orchestral colors reminiscent of Debussy. He's alert to the singers, too, delicately following Kaufmann's dreamy opening of "E lucevan le stelle."

Luisi's reportedly on the short list of conductors to succeed Levine when the injury-plagued maestro chooses -- or is persuaded -- to step down. It's hard to imagine a more brilliant candidate.

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