Met Audience Boos Drab Tosca

Critics pan new production of Puccini opera
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2009 8:48 AM CDT
Marcelo Alvarez performs as Caravadossi during the final dress rehearsal of Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca," Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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(Newser) – 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." (Read more opera stories.)