GP at the Met: Tosca
Preview of the Opera

A new production of Puccini’s Tosca starring Karita Mattila opens THIRTEEN’s Great Performances at the Met’s fourth season on PBS. Mattila sings the title role of Tosca for the first time outside her native Finland, opposite Marcelo Álvarez as Cavaradossi. George Gagnidze is Scarpia and Paul Plishka is the Sacristan. Joseph Colaneri conducts, and acclaimed director Luc Bondy makes his Met debut with the production, which attracted extraordinary attention when it opened the Met’s current season. Bondy, among the world’s most renowned directors of opera and theater, has kept his Tosca in the Napoleonic era. “Directing singers in a realistic and precise way is more important than translating this kind of story to today,” he says. “What I’d like to bring out in my production is that difference between blind passion and cold strategy.” Mattila, who has collaborated with Bondy in the past, says, “Tosca uses her beauty as an asset in a man’s world. But no matter how strong she is, her power has limits because she’s a woman. This fragile side is what makes it interesting – and this is where the real work with the director begins.”

The production is rated TV-PG and will air during primetime on THIRTEEN’S Great Performances at the Met in HD on Wednesday, December 16 at 9 p.m. EST on PBS (check local listings).

Watch a preview:

Great Performances at the Met: Tosca is the first of 10 productions airing this season during the 2009-2010 series. The performance is sung in Italian with English surtitles. Sets are designed by Richard Peduzzi, also in his company debut, costumes designed by Milena Canonero, and lighting designed by Max Keller.

Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, Vivian Milstein, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers and PBS. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home-builder®.

For the Met, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.

  • Sylvia Tedesco

    We saw this live telecast and adored it. Could have done without the “updates” but all three principals were so wonderful, we wouldn’t miss seeing it again on Great Performances!

  • Marty Clesceri

    This is a great Tosca with all singers in their best form! I saw it at the HD broadcast and was so spellbound by the performances that I really didn’t care that the sets were so under par for the Met. This is a definite “don’t miss Great Performances!!!” Thanks for providing on PBS!

  • dan altman

    MORE.

  • joan levine

    Marvelous performance. The expansion of showing the operas in HD and on PBS can be nothing short of wonderful. It exposes so many more people to great opera from the Met. Keep up the good work.
    Joan Levine

  • Jay Zakar

    I was at this performance, and can’t wait until Wed. to see it again!

  • Ashley

    Thoroughly enjoyed the broadcast in theaters. Can’t wait to watch it again!;)

  • carolyn reynolds

    no respect for the composers wishes, this is a mildly entertaining romp in bad taste and not so great singing. Let’s kill scarpia and then just sit. Yeah, that’s really worth a new production. NOT.

  • valerie clarke

    Saw this production 2x this season at Met. Thrilling new telling of one of opera’s most dramatic stories. Singing and acting suberb, with some chilling staging. Look for Scarpia’s red gloves in the first act.

  • Isbelle

    OH MY GOD! I saw it live in HD!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH AND I HOPE THIS ISN’T the last one. turandot was so so so so perfect

  • marcel schachter

    of course she is “La Diva dell canto” and he is the Zeus of voices

  • sami

    Enjoyed the singers but can’t stand the updated version. Thought Scarpia was awesome!

  • gaetan sauvageau

    This Tosca is very different…I was not disposed to like (having readed critics in newspapaers) but I have been very impressed tonight on PBS Thanks for this event !

  • Keith Walker

    Enjoyed the HD presentation at the cinema (despite the sets) and am annoyed that not one of the three PBS stations in my part of SoCal (KCET, KOCE and KVCR) is airing Tosca this evening. I assume that at least one of those stations will run it eventually, but I haven’t been able to confirm this. Wish PBS (or the Met) would make it easier to find air dates.

  • Kimberly

    For some reason, this captured the attention of my teenage daughter who knows how much I love opera. We sat down as a family and enjoyed this together–two daughters and myself. They both sat transfixed through the entire performance! It was their first experience w/the story of TOSCA. Karita Mattila and the other principals were phenomenal–the singing, the acting, the emotion! The costumes were divine. And I loved, loved, loved the fact that it captured the imaginations and attentions of my daughters, 6 and 12 years old. Keep the wonderful performances coming! THANK YOU!

  • frances kelley

    Loved the powerful voices! The costumes were great.

  • Michael

    I’ve just seen the re-broadcast of TOSCA from the Met on Great Performances. And I’ve just read the above comments and my main question is: did I see the same production as these other people? If Luc Bondy is earning such raves elsewhere, why did he do his backstage interview 3/4 closed to the camera–and eating something or sucking on a lozenge? Not just unprofessional, but tacky. Not that his conduct backstage had anything to do with what was going on onstage. What was going on onstage was a world all its own–several galaxies removed from our own.

    For all her personal charm, Ms. Matilla had all the grace and effluence of Pinocchio. Marcelo Alvarez, I thought, was adequate, except I kept wanting to see his face; for God’s sake, Hair, Makeup, somebody, get this man’s hair off his face!! (If I had trouble seeing his face in a camera close-up, his face must have been a gray smudge in the actual in-house performance.)

    I’m not qualified to speak to the production’s musical performances, but I’ve not seen such scenery chewing, mugging, and other violations of decent (not even good, but decent) theatrical technique since my third grade health pageant–even given opera’s general proclivity to such shortcomings. If the director thinks, indeed, that “Directing singers in a realistic and precise way is more important than translating this kind of story to today,” then I have six words for him: “Get thee to a directing class.” Overall, disappointing, badly lit, horrendously staged, and, in places, laughably acted. I leave any critiquing of the voices, etc., to keener, more able ears than mine. Oh, and one more thing: the gimmick of broadcasting performances in theatres might be serving the Met’s budget or Peter’s ego, but it’s doing nothing to serve the state of opera in America today. Who needs opera brought to the masses when it’s this badly done?!

  • Pearl

    Bravissima Karita Mattila! Glorious singing, superb sctress. Unfortunately, no goosebumps for me from Mr. Alverez. George Gaganidze’s Scarpia–scariest, most threatening, and a bit overacted–still prefer Tito Gobbi’s interpretation. Great drama lost–why was the placing of the crucifix on Scarpia’s body by Tosca and the candles at his side omitted? New sets too sparce, too modern. Can’t wait to see it again solely for Karita Mattila’s mesmerizing performance. Applause, Applause to PBS and Great Performances–what joy you give us!

  • Rege Socash

    I’ve waited for the new generation to replace Bjoerling, Milanov, Warren, etc. They’ve arrived for me tonight. Thank you Met.

  • Mom

    Michael above, I am with you! I have seen some splendidly sung Toscas. This one wasn’t one of them. I stood 40 minutes of it only. Could not bear to listen to another note. All that was lacking was Mr. Bean.

  • mike becker

    Nice production, but SPLENDID voices!

  • Big Al

    Karita Matilla sang well, but I’ve seen better Toscas. However, I think we finally have a successor to Placido Domingo with Marcelo Alvarez—even looks a little bit like him!!!

  • ehgreen

    Enjoyed greatly on National PBS, but had to travel to Santa Barbara to watch via Dish Network, because it can be transmitted outside the LA DMA.

    Alas, Los Angeles proves itself again a cultural waste land, for LA PBS (kcet) CLAIMS to carry the FULL PBS programming, but actually broadcast the 10th rerun of Bocelli instead of Great Opera.

    Pity. And the other pbs outlets here (Kvcr, Koce) may be restricted to second run status. But WHY

  • Phyllis

    My son is studying voice. I wince when he hits a lousy note, but I keep on loving him. I will keep on loving opera no matter what notes they miss! Bless all singers.

  • Miss Reynolds

    I wish so much that it had been Marcia Whitehead singing the role of Tosca.

    http://www.laundryandtosca.com/

    She is my kind of hero. Thanks to PBS for any kind of art they present. I am mostly homebound, re-learning to walk, and can’t get to the theaters yet. Am hoping some Sondheim comes up! A Little Night Music, PBS?????
    Marcia whitehead could sing Turandot, by golly. Cheers everybody.

  • Jackie Perrone

    Tosca is to be relished. Marcelo is indeed a worthy successor to Placido; magnificent! And Karita seemed to rise to the demands of her role. The staging? Phooey! Ugly sets, and why was so much of the acting done on the floor? Over and over they were on their knees or prone. It did nothing to enhance the experience.

  • Amy

    The ‘purist’ in me misses the ‘candles’ and the ‘leap’ and is puzzled at some of the staging (the minutes after Scarpia’s death, Tosca’s leap)… having said that, I think the vocal and acting performances were very strong.

    I particularly enjoyed Joel Sorenson’s Spoletto… to me , very reminiscent (of all things) Alan Arkin in Wait Until Dark!

  • Amy

    Oops! SpolettA not O…

  • Marta says

    Love Marcelo’s .. Karita lact warm and present that this role demended. The staging was ugly the dark set was confusing and the death leap miss the mark…………

  • Jon Varga

    The three principal singers (Mattila, Alvarez, and Gagnidze) were absolutely superb – actually breathtaking at times. The costumes were good. The set production was extremely drab and unimaginative – especially in the final act. I also prefer to see Tosca’s traditional leap into oblivion rather than the “new” variation that they used here.

  • Amber

    Does anyone know where I can get a copy of this performance on DVD?

  • Bill Urdanick

    Tosca made a opera fan out of my wife. The first one she ever saw. Very entertaning.

  • Amparo Pikarsky

    Martina Arroyo once said that where she comes from, you don’t stand around after you kill a guy…you run! I wish she’d directed Mattila’s Tosca, who did everything but brew coffee and text her girlfriends after killing Scarpia. She went to the window and considered jumping, she sat on the couch and contemplated a cigarette… Why didn’t she just put a crucifix on his chest or place candles around his corpse? Who knows. But I digress… The minimalist sets of this new production could, and should, have placed a stronger focus on the performers, but they were so miserably directed that the viewers’ attention wandered to all the wrong details (like the oversized couches, which would have been just right for Lily Tomlin’s “Edith Anne”). Gagnidze was a superb Scarpia, but beyond that, let’s forget about this production.

  • thomas

    Bring back the Zefferelli production. Luc Bondy Confessed in an interview that he was “lazy”. He certainly showed it. This is just a mess.

  • pat fine

    on the edge of my sofa! georgeous voices, incredible scarpia…and tosca….
    thanks pbs!

  • Amy

    Watched it on rebroadcast, should I be reprimanded for nerely doing so just for Spoletta’s moments? :)

  • Joseph Delaney

    The singing was wonderful. The directing was so so .. The production was just plain poor.

  • thomas vikander

    What’s with people who don’t like this production? Has the economic meltdown made people a bit angry or cranky, perhaps? Oh, well.
    This production sparks with me! Sparse sets do it for me. I let the personage on stage snare my focus with their vital presence, colour, glorious singing and superb acting (closeups are so breathtaking on HD telcasts).
    The set in Act II was marvelous in its muted colours stunningly offset by the brilliantly red sofas, all architurally massed and balanced, giving us a most satisfying counter to the horror evoked from offstage (a soft padded torture chamber door and glaring horizotal crossbeam floodlight) and onstage where red bloodied murder is done on a red sofa by a woman dressed in red. Wow and whew! One cannot readily be not impressed by this!

  • Maureen Medland

    I have seen Tosca performed in London and Milan, this was the most dismal production I have ever seen. Apart from the voices which were tolerable, Tosca falling about with her bosom hanging out (Callas would turn in her grave) rolling on the floor with Scarpia, was a first, never seen that before. The sparse sets and general lack lustre was the worst production of this splendid opera yet.

  • don glocke

    when will you show tosca again?

  • Jay Palmer

    I do not watch or listen to opera but… When I tuned in and listened to that killer-sounding orchestra I was knocked out. Being a sound engineer in a major studio I can tell you that the performance of the musicians and the sound mix was absolutely fabulous. I would like to contact some of these folks directly and tell them that people do listen and appreciate their hard work. Now about those singers… They really took the ball and drove it over the wall!
    It’s funny that when I went back to “normal” TV after watching it, it looked more schlock than ever!
    Tosca by Puccini…. How wonderful.
    Well done folks !!!!!

  • Dan Coomer

    Frankly, this opera was a major disappointment and I can understand why the opening night Met audience booed Mr. Bondy. This is supposed to be about a fiery, passionate women and her love for her man all overshadowed by a menacing villain. Despite her fine voice Mattilla is neither fiery nor passionate. Marcelo Alvarez’s Cavaradossi didn’t inspire any of us to think of him as the great love of any ones life. Gagnidze was fairly good as Scarpia but really isn’t up to the mark of the great Scarpias of the past.

    The real problem with this opera was the very slow pacing and the horrible concept for the 2nd act. Lord, this opera just dragged along. The brief nudity in the 2nd act was simply there to say “look I put a topless women on stage”. It had nothing to do with the story line. And then Bondy compounds that gaffe with a poorly simulated oral sex scene.

    I feel like I am being generous with 3 stars. If you want to see a great opera go see the Live from the Met Carmen. It will show what a real director can with a classic opera.

  • Mimi

    Scarpia was the best thing about this. Not really a fan of Mattila’s, decent singing but the acting was a little too much for me (She’s supposed to be a beautiful and glamorous woman desired by two men, but she doesn’t really look it. She also seemed awkward in her movement some of the times – Act I.) That does not sound very nice, but this is the 21st century and the age of Live in HD and Angelina Jolie) Alvarez is an AMAZING singer (just close your eyes and listen..). I’ve never seen the Zeffirelli Tosca but I’ve seen other aspects of it, such as the candles and crucifix, and I felt that she stayed around WAY too long.

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