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Review Roundup: The Critics Weigh in on TOSCA at The Met

Emmanuel Villaume conducts the Met's new production of Puccini's Tosca, on December 31, 2017, and January 3, 6, 9, 12, 23, and 27, 2018, replacing James Levine.

Maestro Villaume, who recently conducted Massenet's Thaïs at the Met, is Music Director of the Dallas Opera and Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Prague Philharmonia. He made his Met debut in 2004 conducting Puccini's Madama Butterfly, and his subsequent performances with the company have included Saint-Saëns's Samson et Dalila, Bizet's Carmen, Massenet's Manonand Gounod's Roméo et Juliette.

Sir David McVicar's new staging of Tosca opened on December 31, with Sonya Yoncheva as Tosca, Vittorio Grigolo as Cavaradossi, and Bryn Terfel as Scarpia. The January 27 matinee will be transmitted live as part of the Met's Live in HD series, which reaches more than 2,000 movie theaters in 73 countries around the world.

Later performances on April 21, 26 and 30, and May 4, 8 and 12, 2018, will star Anna Netrebko in the title role opposite Marcelo Álvarez as Cavaradossi and Michael Volle and Željko Lu?i? sharing the role of Scarpia. The April and May performances will be conducted by Bertrand de Billy.

Let's see what the critics have to say!

Mark McLaren, Zeal NYC: John MacFarlane's set is, if dull, grandly realistic. It's pretty. It's most impactful moment may be the production's show's curtain, Archangel Michael watching over the proceedings sword in hand. But the physical production is Zeffirelli-lite and if the Met's subscriber base wanted Zeffirelli's Tosca, it's confusing as to why Zeffirelli's Tosca isn't onstage as this season's Metropolitan Opera's Tosca.

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times: Almost admitting that he has nothing particularly new to say about the work, Mr. McVicar fills his staging with dozens of details, actorly touches that help the performers bring freshness and subtlety to characters every opera fan knows intimately. This was a retro night at the opera, aimed at the Met's conservative core.

Eric C. Simpson, NY Classical Review: Vittorio Grigolo has earned a reputation as the tenor who can't contain himself, but if he continues to choose his roles so well, that may never become a problem for him. His Cavaradossi is a passionate being; right from the start of "Recondita armonia" he was at full throttle, and in his early scenes with Tosca he could barely keep his hands off her. It was thrilling to see the other side of that passion as the tragedy wore on-Act II saw him as an incensed revolutionary, welcoming his own death by taunting his persecutors. Act III's "E lucevan le stelle," at long last, was among the most impressive moments Grigolo has yet given at the Met. When he performed the aria back in May at the company's anniversary gala, it seemed little more than a showpiece. Now it is a fully realized scene, still showing his trademark clarion tenor, but channeling it towards something truly moving-in this case, an intimate look at the painter's torment.

Wilborn Hampton, Huffington Post: But apart from the beautiful sets and costumes that replaced the ill-conceived Luc Bondy production of 2009, and about which the least said the better, it is the marvelous cast Gelb put together in the weeks when one after another singer dropped out that made the premiere of McVicar's staging such a rousing success.

James Jorden, The Observer: After a promising start, with a tingly attack on the opera's eerie opening fanfare, conductor Emmanuel Villaume fell apart bit by bit, fluffing innumerable details of Tosca's notoriously tricky in-and-out rhythms. Nobody ever gets every little tempo change exactly right, but the trick of making this opera work in the theater is cleaning up all those little mistake on the fly, without ever letting the tension drop. Once Villaume got into the heavy weeds of the second act, he kept stopping to regroup; the effect was deadly, but not in the way Puccini had in mind.

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