New York's Metropolitan Opera opened its season last night with a gala production of Puccini's Tosca, a crowd-pleasing war horse given an aggressive new staging by the Swiss director Luc Bondy. The black-tie crowd was not pleased with the stark, modern production, erupting in boos during the curtain call. Critics were disappointed, too; Manuela Hoelterhoff of Bloomberg laments, "God, this production is depressing."
Bondy has replaced the over-the-top baroque sets of the Met's previous Tosca with drab grays and browns, Hoelterhoff notes, and the villainous Scarpia lives not in a palazzo but "a dive decorated in early Tony Soprano-style with a few errant pieces from Ikea." New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini notes that "if Mr. Bondy wanted to rid his Tosca of stock cliché, his heavy-handed ideas are just as hackneyed." Anne Midgette of the Washington Post agrees, calling the production "contrived and a little odd without being particularly effective."