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Tosca
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Tosca

A Review by George Fleeton © 2013

George Fleeton

George Fleeton

The MET: Live in HD is seven years old on December 30 and, in cinemas around the world, it has since been joined by, among others, the Bolshoi Ballet from Moscow and the Berlin Philharmonic.

Such live-by-satellite performances are managed for us, in Ireland north and south, by Classical Arts Ireland.

Since December 2006 there have been 72 New York Metropolitan Opera transmissions, up to and including Tosca (Omniplex Lisburn, November 09), and I calculate I have attended well over 40 of them.

They are, by and large, well worth the trip, but the recent Tosca wasn’t.

***

A revival of Luc Bondy’s loudly booed 2009 production, this was regietheater gone badly wrong.

While I am ardent to the death about the long-established Zeffirelli versions which preceded it, and appreciate that a new production was over due, this was not it: the invitation to dream, to respond emotionally to Puccini’s inviolable music and dramatic vision had been sacrificed to functionalism, crassness and vulgarity.

American soprano Patricia Racette (Tosca), while completely at ease with her music still looked distinctly uncomfortable throughout.

French born tenor Roberto Alagna (Cavaradossi), conserving a voice which recently showed a ragged edge, maintained convincing momentum, and Georgian baritone George Gagnidze (Scarpia) also sang well but was clearly under directed.

So this was a sterile, unattractive though cerebral staging which delivered no emotional punches, no aurora borealis effects; it was anonymously conducted, and even Live in HD hostess Renée Fleming had to work hard to love it.

Better then to move on, in anticipation of the seven remaining operas scheduled for this season: new productions of Falstaff, Prince Igor and Werther, plus revivals ofRusalka, La Bohème, Così fan Tutte and La Cenerentola.

Full details of productions, dates and Irish venues at

www.classicalartsireland.com

and at

www.metopera.org

And of course on Saturday night radio (RTÉ  Lyric FM in Ireland), and for the 83rdconsecutive year, there will be twenty-three operas, broadcast, beginning withRigoletto on December 07 and ending with La Cenerentola on May 10.