The Met: Live in HD series continues Dec. 1 at Cal Poly’s Performing Art Center with Tosca, Giacomo Puccini’s timeless tragic melodrama.
While Tosca is considered a perennial Puccini favorite at the Met, in 2009 Swiss director Luc Bondy caused a minor revolution by reinventing it completely, doing away with Franco Zeffirelli’s lavish sets that audiences had seen and loved since 1985. Adding controversy were new scene interpretations that some thought were simply tacky, including suggested oral sex and the villain fondling a Madonna statue. In response The New York Times described a “small stampede to the exits” on opening night.
Last month, however, the new Tosca returned to the Met, mostly triumphantly. Critics have been largely won over to the newer production, thanks to a talented cast and what seem to be more forgiving attitudes, though it doesn’t hurt that the simulated oral sex scene is now gone.
Soprano Patricia Racette sings the role of Floria Tosca, the passionate and jealous singer who tries to protect her lover by agreeing to a repulsive bargain with a corrupt police official. The New York Times review called Racette “magnificent … she captured both the dignity and despair of the character.” As Tosca’s lover Cavaradossi, Roberto Alagna’s vocals were described as “beautiful” and “rich-toned,” by New York Classical Review. And as Baron Scarpia, the depraved police chief, George Gagnidze’s “commanding baritone gave a fearsome malevolence,” said The Huffington Post.
Tosca is conducted by Riccardo Frizza, with sets by Richard Peduzzi.
Thanks to the Live In HD series, Tosca will be simulcast in 1,900 theaters in more than 64 countries. Upcoming productions include Verdi’s Falstaff on Jan.12, 2014; Dvorák’s Rusalka Feb. 23; Borodin’s Prince Igor March 2; Massenet’s Werther March 15; Puccini’s La Boheme April 5; and Cosi Fan Tutte May 4.
Met Live in HD productions offer the audience a look behind the scenes during intermission breaks that they wouldn’t experience with the live show, making the ticket price a true bargain. Documentaries and short features are included, as well as interviews with singers, directors, and other crew members.
The production starts at 2 p.m. at the Christopher Cohan Center. Tickets are $27; $12 for students. See pacslo.org for more information.