[Met Performance] CID:161010

Metropolitan Opera House, Wed, November 12, 1952

Tosca received nineteen performances this season.
J. Novak designed the sets for Acts I and III, Sala the set for Act II.
Dorothy Kirsten's costumes were designed by Valentina.

Review 1:

Review of Howard Taubman in The New York Times


Opera Returns to Repertoire After Two-Tear Absence - Singers Take New Roles

Puccini's "Tosca," which was the second production of the Metropolitan Opera's new season last night, is an opera not only for singers, but also for actors. There is a further problem; theatrics really suited to the melodramatics of the story will not go down with audiences today, and the singer must find somehow, somewhere an acting technique compounded of restraint and intensity.

If you set such a standard for "Tosca," you are asking for singing actors who come along once in a generation, and there were no such performers at the Opera House last night. In other words, it was not a dream "Tosca." But it was, on the whole, on a much higher level than a lot of "Toscas" one has encountered at the Metropolitan in recent years.

Dorothy Kirsten, the American soprano who has done some roles with taste and resourcefulness at the Metropolitan, undertook her first Tosca there. She has done the role in San Francisco, and her approach is largely within her capacities. Handsomely dressed, she was a beautiful Tosca to look upon and, where the vocal line was light and lyrical, she sang gracefully and with freshness of tone. If her voice has not the size and darkness of color one would like, at least her musical conception was fashioned with intelligence and consistency.

As for her acting, it did not make a caricature of Tosca, as some recent interpreters have done. Miss Kirsten seemed to be molding the role intellectually; she has not yet learned to let it grow out of that inner intensity that would make it believable for us today. It was better, in any case, to have a subdued characterization than phony temperament. But there was one moment when Miss Kirsten caused the audience to giggle. After all, for a woman who has just sung "vissi d'amore" (I have seen love), her reaction to one of Scarpia's advances was embarrassingly callow.

Paul Schoeffler's Scarpia, which was harsh and angular a couple of seasons ago, has changed for the better. It had suavity and elegance last night, and it was sung with a subtlety that added immeasurably to the villainy of the character. Ferruccio Tagliavini sang well when he remembered not to force. His first-act aria was fine and his passionate outburst in the second act had a punch. Clifford Harvuot, Lawrence Davidson and especially Alessio De Paolis, whose acting of the evil Spoletta has the authentic touch, gave sound performances.

The staging was traditional. The end of the first act needs attention badly; it is dull and stagy as it is done now. But no detail of this sort could diminish the dramatic quality of "Tosca," and enough of it was captured last night under Fausto Cleva's careful conducting to make a packed house happy.

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