Tosca, in Luc Bondy’s headline-making production, opened the New York Metropolitan’s 2009-10 season. The charismatic Karita Mattila takes the title role with Marcelo Álvarez, a classic Latin tenor, as her lover, Cavaradossi.
This production of Tosca opened the Metropolitan Opera’s 2009-10 season, the first to be programmed entirely by the house’s General Manager Peter Gelb, who, as the New York Times explains “has been on a campaign to make the house a place for theatrically daring productions with dramatically compelling casts”.
The work of Swiss-born Luc Bondy, named by Opera News as “one of the opera world's most respected stage directors”, this production – igniting Tosca‘s potent mix of sex, politics, music and religion – contrasts starkly with its predecessor at the Met, a traditional spectacular first staged by Franco Zeffirelli in 1985. According to the Los Angeles Times: “Bondy updated the story of a diva, her lover and the lecherous chief of the secret police from 1800 to a decadent Rome in the early 20th century. Cavaradossi paints a topless, fetching Mary Magdalene, which Tosca in a fit of jealousy slashes with a knife, in a cathedral that looks more like a grand Fascist assembly room.”
The title role is taken by Karita Mattila, “an artist defined by her ability to take risks – emotionally, vocally, temperamentally” (Opera News). The striking blue-eyed blonde from Finland became a sultry dark-eyed Roman brunette and brought “shimmering power, incisive attack, pliant lyricism and emotional honesty to her performance. … In Act III, when she tells Cavaradossi of having stabbed Scarpia to death, she leapt to a high C of ferocious intensity, then plunged down two octaves, mimicking the thrust of the knife into the villain’s gut.” The New York Times went on to praise her Cavaradossi, Marcelo Álvarez as “a true Puccini tenor, with warm, throbbing, supple phrasing and some triumphant top notes, including a defiant high A sharp when he sang “Vittoria” at the news of Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of Marengo”. “A very accomplished and dark Scarpia” (The Guardian), Georgian baritone George Gagnidze completed a cast which, as the New York Times reported, “received enormous ovations”.
Conducting this performance, and replacing an indisposed James Levine, was American maestro Joseph Colaneri, who has regularly taken charge of Italian repertoire at the Met since 2000. As Opera News said: “The combined effect of the Met chorus and orchestra remains a thing of wonder.”
The Met’s high-definition video broadcasts of opera now regularly draw audiences to more than 1000 cinemas in over 40 countries, and – beyond their compelling technical quality – capture the full drama of the performance with sophisticated shooting techniques inspired by Hollywood.
Karita Mattila (Tosca), Marcelo Alvarez (Cavaradossi), George Gagnidze (Scarpia), Paul Plishka (Sacristan), David Pittsinger (Angelotti), Joel Sorensen (Spoletta), James Courtney (Sciarrone), Jonathan Makepeace (Shepherd)
New York Metropolitan Opera Chorus & New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Joseph Colaneri