[Met Performance] CID:152030

Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, November 26, 1949

Debut : Elisabetta Barbato, Denis Harbour

Tosca (285)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/Giuseppe Giacosa
Elisabetta Barbato [Debut]

Jussi Björling

Alexander Sved

Gerhard Pechner

Alessio De Paolis

Hugh Thompson

George Cehanovsky

Thelma Altman

Denis Harbour [Debut]

Giuseppe Antonicelli

Dino Yannopoulos

Set Designer
Mario Sala

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

Tosca received fourteen performances this season.
J. Novak designed the sets for Acts I and III, Sala the set for Act II.

Review 1:

Irving Kolodin in the Sun

Barbato Makes Met Debut as Tosca


There was little to jubilate about at the Metropolitan on Saturday, either in the afternoon’s drab revival of “Samson” or the undramatic “Tosca” of the evening.Elisabetta Barbato’s debut in the latter had its interests, but the disinterest of the two were squarely the fault of the management.

The youngish Italian soprano, who comes by way of South America and San Francisco, has a promising voice, rich at the bottom, easy at the top, powerful throughout, but she was more to be pitied than censured in this debut. If the Metropolitan is a graduate school, she should not have been permitted to expose her immature ideas of action and business on its stage. If it is an operatic junior high – which seems to be increasingly the case – somebody should at least have taught her tow to delve a mortal heart-thrust to Scarpia, rather than a glancing blow around the clavicle. He expired in respect to the libretto rather than to the wound.

Our sympathies go to Miss Barbato for her honest intentions, well expressed vocally in the second act, after some corner-cutting of highflying florid passages in the first. There was no indication, however, that much stage direction had been applied to the scene with Scarpia, resulting in a few fumbling feints, leading to crude, if freely vocalized version of “Vissi d’arte.” It was not magnetic, but it had a broad kind of style which could amount to something with reasonable guidance.

Jussi Bjoeling sang his boyish Cavaradossi with less boyish tones than one used to hear, and –  for that matter – more of the strain that was noted in his Des Grieux. Alexander Sved returned after a year, to sing a well-composed, (dramatically), wayward (vocally) Scarpia. Some of it was powerfully projected, but it all suffered from Sved’s desire to annihilate his audience with tone, let the slips fall where they may. Denis Harbour made his debut as the third-act jailer. The conductor, to speak loosely, was Giuseppe Antonicelli.

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