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In Review > North America


The Metropolitan Opera

THE METROPOLITAN OPERA revived Puccini’s Tosca on October 16. This season four sopranos, four baritones and four different conductors will rotate in and out of Luc Bondy’s 2009 production, with two tenors scheduled to share the role of Mario Cavaradossi. Plácido Domingo, who was to have conducted the first few performances, had to withdraw during the dress rehearsal for health reasons, although Marco Armiliato, a veteran of eighteen previous Met Toscas, was available to conduct the first night. 

In the title role, Oksana Dyka sounded commanding, but her acting was a failure, her gestures limited to awkward shrugging and straight-armed pointing. A few comic touches included registering distaste after tossing back a glass of Scarpia’s apparently subpar wine, but an acting coach might have made something more of this well-sung performance. Roberto Aronica’s dark-hued tenor served well as Cavaradossi, and he sings with expression, but the performance relied more on edgy energy than subtlety. 

Roberto Frontali’s Scarpia was perfectly played, and seemed at home in Bondy’s seedy vision. Unlike Dyka and Aronica, Frontali brings clarity of text to his weighty baritone, and played Scarpia with steely and watchful cunning. While many baritones bring dangerous magnetism to the role, Frontali’s characterization was chilling and soulless. 

Scarpia’s office still resembles a dismal community college lounge; gown colors and staging details have been updated without improving the overall effect. The first act’s Te Deum procession remains a puzzling mess, the end of Act II baffling, as Tosca waits around on a couch after she has stabbed Scarpia (to be absolutely certain that Scarpia is dead?). 

John Del Carlo’s Sacristan was well sung without fussiness and Richard Bernstein’s energetic Angelotti sharpened the opera’s opening. Tyler Simpson brought beefy tone and nice physical detail to the role of the Jailer, but Daniel Katzman’s treble sounded nasal in the Shepherd’s song. —Judith Malafronte 


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