Cher Public

E avanti a lui russava tutta Roma

Once again the Met guided its expensive new production to the DMV (that is, stage director David McVicar) on New Year’s Eve and if the vehicle didn’t stall out like the last time it provided sufficient evidence that the seemingly omnipresent “driver” might helpfully have his NYS license revoked. 

But then again the Met got exactly what it asked for: a safely opulent, resolutely unchallenging Tosca that was far from shabby or little but couldn’t have been less shocking… and that, of course, was its biggest failing.

Despite being hobbled by poor conducting, its bland cast earnestly went through its absolutely predictable motions but then that’s about the last thing one wants—no fire, no danger, no holds-barred flamboyance that can make Tosca a night of thrilling music-drama.

Lots of enthusiastic applause but no boos greeted McVicar and his team (just what on earth does Movement Director Leah Hausman do?) when they appeared during the final bows, but then in my experience that is always the case. His “tasteful” conservative approach might feature a few tiny, tepid half-baked regie flashes but it rarely raises any ire.

I suppose there’s a collective sigh of relief that his productions never require one to think much or question one’s decades-encrusted expectations. Certainly that was the case with Tosca: there was scarcely a single important moment that didn’t go exactly as one might have foreseen. It was hard to discern what weeks and weeks of rehearsal had accomplished. Most of what transpired on stage Sunday night looked like it could have been thrown together by a Met staff stage director in a week or less.

Before the premiere we were bombarded with lots of “news” about how hard the production team had worked to make its version historically accurate and “authentic.” In fact, the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery Met now features “John MacfarlaneTosca: The Rome Drawings,” a show of 14 drawings, two paintings and a pair of sketches inspired by the set and costume designer’s trip to Rome in April 2015.

He needed to visit Sant’Andrea della Valle and Castel Sant’Angelo because “it is essential to the plot of the opera that you show their scale, grandeur and unique atmosphere” and “the resulting theater design has [emphasis added] to be architecturally accurate.” All in all it didn’t look all that much different from the discarded Franco Zeffirelli production… but that was the whole point after all, no?

OK, but why are all three sets on an incline of about 15 degrees? What the heck was going on in act I when the grand religious procession proceeded along a hidden peripheral side aisle on the far left after which the chorus assembled facing at an angle the offstage ceremony? Why did entire right half of the stage remain empty until Scarpia climbed Mario’s scaffolding and thumped his chest three times? Why did light stream in the high side windows of Scarpia’s quarters at the Farnese palace… at midnight?

As in last fall’s Norma McVicar can’t seem to resist putting supers onstage to distract one’s attention from the principals. During Tosca and Scarpia’s crucial first interview a mob of stylishly dressed extras out on the day’s “Tosca-tour” appeared to eavesdrop and gawk. While Mario poured out his heart in “E lucevan le stelle” a guard on each side of the stage lurked, presumably because the prisoner couldn’t be left alone, but then left when Tosca appeared so the pair could sing their duet alone. Huh?

Perhaps it was a result of the team’s tireless research but why did Mario face the firing squad holding a lantern next to his face? To make sure they could see him? But isn’t it supposed to be dawn?

Much has been made of how Tosca’s gorgeous black gown in the second act with daringly low décolletage might be less than tasteful for a performance in front of the Queen. But what of her traipsing around church with nothing on her head or carelessly dropping her white (!) shawl on the church’s paint-splattered floor not once but twice and then blithely picking it up and wrapping it back around herself?

But these and other details added by DMV had me scratching my head—why? Just why? Otherwise every item on the usual Tosca check-list was dutifully carried out sans surprise. Drink from goblet—check. Spy knife—check. Pick up knife—check. Stab Scarpia—check. Search for safe conduct and find it clenched in his warm dead fist—check. Put candles on each side of his head and crucifix on his chest—check.

More than anything the ghost of Luc Bondy’s 2009 Met production haunted the evening. One imagined everyone involved forced to watch a copy of the HD and then swear to unerringly avoid any trace of that “sacrilegious” version athat apparently so offended much of the Met public.

But I was more than engrossed the three times I saw it because the performers invested that often-misguided vision with an intensity missing Sunday night. Although vocally miscast, Karita Mattila couldn’t have been boring if she tried even without the usual Scarpia-murder-shtick and later that first season the incendiary team of Patricia Racette, Jonas Kaufmann and Bryn Terfel raised the roof and no one minded the Bondy that night at all.

More recently Angela Gheorghiu mostly ignored Bondy’s blocking and just did her own thing but it was always fascinating. Unfortunately last night Sonya Yoncheva, Vittorio Grigolo and Zeljko Lucic instead just seemed like pleasant, rather dull people caught up in a spot of bother.

I for one feared the worst for Yoncheva whose commitments in Paris kept her away from rehearsals for her very first Tosca until mid-December. Yet hers was the most impressive portrayal. Yes, sometimes the top can thin precariously (she was clearly tired by the third act) but at important moments it rang out with point and clarity. The voice was surprisingly big and full and her attractively smoky rich timbre occasionally took on an appealingly covered quality in the middle.

She dug into a pungent chest register much more than I would have expected, sometimes even more than needed. I hadn’t heard her live in a complete role since her first Desdemona two seasons ago and the voice has continued to grow as has her command of the stage.

If her characterization was well-executed, it lacked that diva flair and fiery temperament one might like to see. This was a good girl (not yet a woman perhaps) brutally harassed by a bad man but I wasn’t entirely convinced that she had the gumption to kill him to avoid his advances. Possiblyu she will grow in the role as the run progresses; the outline and instincts are already there.

But it doesn’t seem to me that she’ll ever be an ideal Tosca as her basic persona thrives in more pathetic roles. Her “Vissi d’arte,” if less from perfect, was the most affecting moment of the evening. Unfortunately she’ll have to contend with the same tenor and conductor throughout January culminating in the HD on January 27.

After his fevered yet impressive Hoffmann in September I harbored some hope that Grigolo had evolved into a more disciplined artist but there was little evidence of that in his first-ever Cavaradossi. What little beauty the voice had has now vanished but it retains its potent high notes which are now pumped out to showy effect with him sweatily rising up on his toes.

After an awkward “Recondita armonia” he persuasively portrayed Tosca’s horny lover in the first act but his intereactions with the debuting Christian Zaremba (Angelotti) were unusually and unconvincingly frantic. I doubt anyone has ever yelped so histrionically while being tortured off-stage and his “Vittoria” was indeed thrilling but he made sure you knew just how much effort he was putting into it.

His lachrymose prosaic “E lucevan le stelle” was probably the weakest rendition I’ve ever heard of this usually sure-fire show-stopper. While it’s perhaps unfair to “review” someone’s bowing he’s long been known for his over-the-top, self-aggrandizing hijinks. The one last night however must stand as the most excruciatingly egregious ever, yet he was clearly reveling in the cheers of the many who respond delightedly to his wild antics.

Perhaps because he’s become so ubiquitous at the Met, many seem to regularly disdain Lucic but I tend to like him. While he can sometimes appear unengaged (his blasé Rigoletto was particularly unfortunate) I find his smooth secure baritone more appealing than a lot of the others the Met has offered up in recent years. But his lack of dramatic intensity and menace made for a less-than-ideal Scarpia. The grand ending of the first act found him underpowered and in general he lacked bite and snarl making the Baron far less dangerous than he should be.

Despite having to juggle an alarming amount of comic business, Patrick Carfizzi was an endearingly full-voiced Sacristan, a nice change. The off-stage Shepherd Boy seems to have been a Girl—Davida Dayle—but I can’t say she made much of an impression as there was so much stage business going on I couldn’t concentrate on his/her plaintive song. Brenton Ryan’s ugly Spoletta was completely overshadowed by Christopher Job’s tall, threatening Sciarrone. Job clearly caught the director’s eye as the opera’s final tableau was all about Sciarrone staring blankly into the auditorium presumably as unimpressed as we were by Tosca’s dull flop of a dead-drop jump off the parapet.

Having been very impressed by his recent Thaïs, I was stunned by the disorganized, unidiomatic conducting of Emmanuel Villaume, which proved the evening’s greatest misfortune. Perhaps because the slanted sets required that the prompter’s box be built up to more than twice its normal height, musical coordination throughout the performance was woeful and during many moments the singers seemed at war with the pit rather than at peace.

Far too many passages threatened to collapse under Villaume’s slow, unyielding tempi; the luxurious and soulful rubati so characteristic to Puccini were rarely in evidence. Dare I admit that at more than one point I even missed him who shall no longer be named?

By chance I happened to be in Tanglewood this summer and heard three-quarters of this cancellation-plagued production’s original line-up do Puccini. Andris Nelsons’s slow sumptuous conducting lacked punch and momentum in the Boston Symphony’s semi-staged Tosca second act, but his wife Kristine Opolais’s cowed, skittish heroine was actually better sung than I’d expected.

It came as a shock when she suddenly morphed into Joan Crawford in Strait-Jacket for Scarpia’s murder but then Terfel’s icky, creepy Baron surely merited such an extreme extermination. But all in all other than for the dire Villaume I don’t know that Met audiences need to be too bereft about the cast-changes particularly Yoncheva’s often gorgeous if small-scaled prima donna. But more than once I thought back with longing to Kaufmann’s ringing Mario seven years ago in that “horrible” Bondy production I didn’t miss so much after all.

Photos: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.

  • A quotation from the “in the press” part of the Paris Opera’s website, referring to the new “lost in space” Bohème, might be relevant here: “Car le prétendu respect de la lettre est en fait un étouffement de l’œuvre,”which translates roughly as “to be supposedly literal is in fact to stifle the work.”

    • Kenneth Conway

      “Car le prétendu respect de la lettre est en fait un étouffement de l’œuvre”? I’m stealing that.

      • It was from Alain Duault, who used to present fairly popular classical music programs on TV in the days when the French networks had such things.

        • Kenneth Conway

          Thank you!

  • Satisfied

    So any projection on how long this Tosca will be with us?

    • At least for the rest of Gelb’s tenure. If it pleases some of the major donors and if it sells well, I think whoever is the GM might choose to fight other artistic battles that replacing this Tosca.

      • CwbyLA

        I think this is an important point. Gelb has to please a huge swath of people. As a practical matter, his major job is to raise funds. Frankly, i am OK if he puts up an uninspired and conservative production of Tosca if it will keep the well heeled donors happy and if we get more adventerous programming and productions for other operas. Bondy production flopped in its first outing but people likes it when it was with Racette/Kauffman/Terfel as noted in the review. Perhaps something similar will happen when La Netrebko takes over and chews up the scenery.

        • Satisfied

          I agree with your assessment as to Gelb’s primary duties and the benefits that derive from having to slog through the same safe and boring La Boheme and Tosca year after year (and yes, I realize that I really don’t “have to” see any opera). Inevitably, we will get a great run of performances with a solid cast after a season or two, so it really isn’t that difficult to sit through a literal production. I also know that, despite the old guard’s detestment of innovative or regie productions, Gelb continues to try to bring new voices to the Met. For the last four or five season announcement and Q&A with donors, I have asked him when we’ll see our first Herheim at the Met and every year he makes clear that 1) this is something that he wants to see and 2) that he is trying to make it a reality.

          I further agree that the benefits outweigh the negatives. We often forget that during the Gelb era, we have witnesssed a sea of misfires, but also many many treasures.

          Who amongst us is not thrilled to have an exciting and thoughtful Parsifal in the Met repatory or felt utterly fortunate to have seen the Charau Elektra in person and not just on DVD without having to travel to Europe (I direct this comment to regular Met-goers and not our international group of Parterrians)? Under Gelb, we had the much needed house debuts of From the House of the Head and The Nose. As to the latter, we also now have a Met artist main-stay that I’m happy to see working regularly at the Met in the form of William Kentridge (having seen his Wozzeck in Salzburg this past summer, I am incredibly excited as well to have this as a new Met production next season).

          Ok, I’m done with my “In Defense of Gelb” and will simply say that, if the Met Futures are to be believed, we have a lot to look forward to at the Met in the near future….we just simply have to make our way out of this rather blah 2017/2018 season.

          • southerndoc1

            Agree with your comments. Great productions are few and far between, no matter who is running the house. The Parsifal and Ballo in the same season were the best Wagner and Verdi productions in ages. Add in Prince Igor and the others you mentioned, and Gelb is ahead of average in my opinion.

        • I’ve said this before a few times, but a good balancing weight to this McVicar retro-Zeffirelli Tosca would have been the Bieito Forza which was cancelled.

          • Satisfied

            ^ This. But from what I’ve heard from a friend who works admin at the Met, the cancellation was not strictly a financial issue and had something to do with creative differences.

            • Well, I never thought it was strictly a budgetary issue. Gelb is willing to spend the money when he thinks the investment will be worth. Perhaps there was an attempt to rein Bieito in so as not to offend the conservative-mined major donors and Board members. And maybe Bieito didn’t want to be reined in. I think that the Peter Gelb who first came to the Met prepared to change things up would have allowed Bieito to be Bieito. But he’s gun-shy now.

            • Satisfied


  • grimoaldo2

    “we were bombarded with lots of “news” about how hard the production team had worked to make its version historically accurate and authentic…. Tosca’s gorgeous black gown in the second act with daringly low décolletage might be less than tasteful for a performance in front of the Queen.”
    I find that quite annoying. It is a basic, well known fact that ladies other than nuns or those in mourning did not wear black at that time. And the jewelry she wears in that scene is jet, that was also specifically and only for mourning.So maybe someone close to her died that afternoon? But then a mourning dress would not be so low cut and in fact as La C already pointed out dresses at that period were not off the shoulder.
    Why make a big deal about historic accuracy and get basic stuff like that totally wrong?

  • eastcoastbear

    It is a shame that the Met decided to take a step towards the past rather the future with this new “old” production of Tosca. I was there last night and did think, however, that Girgolo sang beautifully. Let’s not forget this cast/conductor had little time to work together before opening night. They did an admirable job under the circumstances

  • ER

    First, let me say upfront, this is an extraordinarily well written and engaging review. Congratulations Mr. Corwin.

    The discrepancy between a new glossy production and the uninspired rudderless direction of said production is distressing, but hopefully will resolve somewhat as the run continues.

    Plus if it doesn’t there’s always La Netrebko who will make sure there is nothing humdrum onstage.

  • ER

    the Times (Tommasini) has weighed in:

    I’m impressed that this is a more critical and less white-washed review than usual. While giving credit where due, he also, like Mr. Corwin here question the whole purpose of this enterprise.

  • Ivy Lin

    There are productions worth being nostalgic about. Luc Bondy’s Tosca isn’t one of them. I know he wanted to do something different but what he ended up creating was just massive swaths of negative space onstage. The whole thing was very poorly designed in that often if you were sitting on one end of the auditorium you couldn’t see the other end at all. I saw this production three or four times and learned eventually to always sit on the auditorium right as the action was almost always stage left. The massive, heavy set had to be rebuilt and caused intermissions of over 40 -45 minutes. I once remarked “a Tosca that starts at 8 should not get out at midnight.” Luc Bondy directed way more interesting stuff. His Tosca was one of his worst efforts and unfortunately it has traveled as La Scala and Munich now have the same production.

    I’ll see this production on Satuday (???) but I can’t imagine it being WORSE than the Bondy production. It might not be better but it won’t be worse.

  • La Cieca

    “Metropolitan Opera’s ‘Tosca’ Makes Murder, Rape and Suicide a Snooze”

    The great fiasco thus far in Peter Gelb‘s incumbency at the Metropolitan Opera has been a muddled 2009 post-modern attempt by director Luc Bondy to address the violent and nihilistic aspects of Puccini’s Tosca. That debacle was”redeemed” last night when the company unveiled a listless new production of the melodrama notable for inert dramaturgy and slovenly musical values.

    • ER

      love the review! esp the line “the effect was deadly, but not in the way Puccini had in mind.”

      Hoping that the performances will improve as the run goes along. Conducting was mediocre- and that’s being polite.

  • trevor

    Thanks to Christopher Corwin for this thoughtful review of “Tosca.” A possible answer to his question “why did Mario face the firing squad holding a lantern next to his face?” occurred to me as I looked at the photograph in today’s New York Times. John Macfarlane has created an almost exact replica of Goya’s “Third of May, 1808.” In this painting, the scene is illuminated by the same square lantern, with the firing squad in similar positions.

    • La Cieca

      And now let us all praise John Macfarlane for being so clever about art.

  • jacobelli

    “…its bland cast earnestly went through its absolutely predictable motions…”

    Sadly, with all too rare exception, this line describes nearly every performance of every opera at the Met in recent years.

    • ER

      Fear not, Netrebko Inc. will be arriving for the Spring run, and, like her or not, bland is one adjective that can never apply to her.

      • LaFavorita

        Other than Lucic, I fail to see how either of the two leads can be called bland. I mean, Grigolo is basically a one-man circus .

        • PCally

          Well they were given very little to do beyond the most basic blocking and it was fairly evident that it was the first time they were singing their respective roles. I think she has the potential to be an exceptional Tosca and I happened to like her performance. But it was more or less a slightly disheveled sketch of the part as it stands right now, even vocally speaking. So I think bland is accuarate. I personally think she’s fabulous but not necessarily the most specific singer.

          • So can this traditionally grand production morph into a Tosca showcase given better conducting and time for Sonia and VIttorio to grow into the parts? Maybe. I’m seeing it at the end of the month so I can’t say much about that until then. But I was more curious to hear it first.

            Vuillaume really mucked the whole thing up. Never mind the flabby, draggy tempi, there was a problem with the basics, like cues and coordination. I hope that little shepherd bucks up; can’t prove it but I know that dropped second verse was probably due to lack of command from the podium, as evidenced all evening.

            I thought his work on Thais was excellent, so this surprised me. Oh, I know, the cursed production and all that, but I’m naive and think that opera conductors should have Tosca in their bones fairly early on.

            I am always in Yoncheva’s corner because I like her, the voice, the way she sings, the way she acts. I’ve liked her since I heard her Traviata some years back. She did not disappoint. The voice has gained a little heft since then, so at no time did her vocal possibilities seem compromised by the role. Her sound is basically dulcet, pointed and strong, things that say Butterfly or Magda to me more than Floria, but hey, that “sogghino di demone” was great! Hilarious! Original and marvelous. But, intoning and singing “E avanti a lui” at the same time seemed to be wanting to have her cake and eat it too. You really can’t do it both ways, but it was a nice try. “Vissi d’arte” was properly reflective, flowing with tone with nicely turned accaciature (as also in the first act love duet) and while its three top climactic notes were efficient rather than stunning, she may be able to add a slight linger and caress there now that debut pressure is off.

            And this “Callas sound” thing noted by some listeners was also quite apparent to these ears, but noted, it is not, or does not seem to be, an affectation, just a natural result of how she is sings. I don’t recall it much in the Traviata, but first noticed it in that remarkable Norma from Paris. It’s only in the middle-upper and middle-lower portion of the voice, that covered quality and a similar (though not as intense) weight and registration. Her other similarity to Callas is that she possesses a parallel scrupulousness vis a vis the printed notes, phrasing, and rhythm, praiseworthy virtues in any singer.

            I’ve come to like Grigolo in many things; maybe he’s just worn me out. It’s not a first-class voice, but he sings (sometimes) like it is, and is (sometimes) demented onstage, and that counts for something. Still, first reaction is that for Cavaradossi’s music/tessitura (despite a notable “O dolce mani”) he needs a firmer line to buoy up the grainy/bleaty middle. I don’t find that unattractive per se, but it lacks solid tenorial shine.

            I’m not going to complain all that much about Lucic. As Mr. Corwin notes, he’s a capable enough baritone who, like Grigolo, has done yeoman work in many roles at the Met. However, his smoothly sung Scarpia wasn’t able to bring much menace or danger to the evening’s proceedings.

            p.s. I did hate the Bondy, and not because it wasn’t pretty, but because for me, it didn’t enhance the storytelling in any revelatory way, plus pace Kaufmann, I didn’t like Mattila in the part; only Blanck Biggs and Gheorghiu in their single performances seemed to be able to deliver the Tosca goods, vocally and dramatically despite the squalor around them.

        • CKurwenal

          I can imagine Yoncheva’s Tosca may have come across as bland -- her Norma did, to an extent, although it had its moments. I think she has so much vocal facility that she can sing through long stretches of scores without having to try very hard, and rather take that as an opportunity to do anything interesting, she tends to coast.

  • Susan Brodie

    This production is about Peter Gelb appeasing the mob and selling seats. It worked for the gala, and I overheard people saying it was the best Tosca they’d ever seen (/salt). But there remain hundreds of unsold seats even for the Netrebko performances. With some partial-view seats priced at $240 their gala-cast pricing strategy may need a rethink.

    • Is opera gradually becoming prohibitively expensive or am I just getting poorer and poorer? Now that Paris has adopted the rudiments of an airline-style anticipated-yield-based pricing system some seats for La Bohème were at 260 euros (astronomical, you might say). Mine was already 230, about ten times what I paid for Hänsel und G. in Budapest before Christmas.

      • CKurwenal

        ROH prices have become quite punchy over the last year or so too. I recall the new Rosenkavalier prices breaking some new kind of house record.

        • Resitopiu

          Not only that but the October Ring prices are ludicrous. They have even unrestricted what were and are restricted view seats in the left and right hand side of the amphitheatre just to get a few extra pounds. I notice that for the next booking they are back to reduced price restricted view. You can either see the whole stage at you cant there really is no half way on that!

          • CKurwenal

            Wow, that’s a bit cheeky about re-designating seats as unrestricted view, hadn’t noticed that! The Ring prices are astronomical but it seems to be a new normal for anything they consider to be particularly desirable, which I think started from Fleming’s Rosenkavalier onwards (no surprise that the second cast for that run sold dreadfully).

            • Paris has had, for a number of years, an “Optima” seating category, more expensive than category 1 (the best of which it hoovered up), invented to charge new, higher prices without being open to accusations of increasing prices per category.

        • The Dybbuk

          The prices for Lohengrin are eye watering, up to £280, which puts it in line with the October Ring mentioned by Resitopiu. Clearly the fall in the value of the £ makes it more attractive to the tourist audience but works very much against the domestic one. What next season will bring is probably a strangling off of ROH to all but the London based audience and visitors abroad. Those of us out of towners will have to rely on the cinema relays much in line with many other countries. ROH seems to returning to the well healed audience of yester year underwritten as much by the falling exchange rate as the level of subsidy

          • grimoaldo2

            ROH prices were always astronomical and it just gets worse.
            However I used to routinely sit in the slips, right up at the top and at the side, where you have to spend the whole time leaning forward and turning your head and you still can’t see all of the stage. But the sound is good and because they are such terrible seats they are really cheap -- ten pounds or less. Plus the company is better than down stairs, it’s where the real hard core opera fans are. I would buy pricier seats for a special treat or something I knew was going to be sensational but I could sit in the slips and go several times a week.
            Now at the Kennedy Center for instance there are no such bad and cheap seats, I had to pay a hundred dollars to suffer through the ghastly ordeal that was that dreadful “Alcina”. The bit before the interval anyway when I escaped.

            • CKurwenal

              Slips seats usually start at £12 now for any kind of standard rep, but they do still start at £6 for stuff like From The House Of The Dead or Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. I’ve never actually sat there but may do this spring if I have to use my back-up insurance ticket purchased in case Netrebko cancels the first Macbeth I’ve got a ticket for! I’ve had such bad luck with her over the years that this time I went for 2 different dates but I’m hoping I won’t need the second one and can return it for re-sale.

      • fantasia2000

        Opera is indeed becoming prohibitively expensive. I just bought the opening night of Ariodante at Wienerstaatsoper, and it was 273 euros, quite possibly the most expensive opera tickets I’ve ever bought! David McVicar better not screwing up that one! LOL

      • fletcher

        My solution is to date younger men so they can buy tickets for me at reduced prices (successful so far!).

        • Hmm. I think the only solution in my case will be to buy an ear trumpet and book less fancy seats.

      • Susan Brodie

        H&G seems to go for bargain prices: the same seat for the Met Tosca gala that sold for $550 (ordinarily around $265) went for $50 for last night’s H&G. Apples and oranges, I know, but one does get the impression that they’re trying. But I predict discounts and Goldstar offers for the January run and probably for some of Netrebko’s dates as well.

        • southerndoc1

          Hansel and the abridged Magic Flute have reduced ticket prices for all seats, presumably to attract families. Both seem to have sold fairly well. Everything else at the Met has a top price of $445.

          Yes, $445 to see the Merry Widow

          • $445 not to see it if threatened with it by terrorists would make more sense.

          • southerndoc1

            Actually, I was wrong. For some shows prime seats are as high as $505.

            • DonCarloFanatic

              People pay insane prices to see pop concerts and B’way shows, and sporting events, too. Live entertainment ain’t cheap.

        • But around $25 is the normal price for a top seat for any work at the Erkel in Budapest, where I saw H und G. At the main house, about double that.

      • Susan Brodie

        What really hurt was the decision to double the price of last minute tickets for seniors, and not for les jeunes (and let’s not go into the under-40-only evenings). Even with discount offer for the top three categories I’ve become much more selective about what I see--especially since Paris offers so many other options.

        • In fact what I’ve done is cut back at the Opéra National de Paris to, basically, new productions. That gives me five or six ONP evenings a year, and then if I want to add anything in the course of the year, I add it. My other subs are, currently, with the Champs Elysées (that only became the case when Favart shut down for repairs; I may yet go back as the programming is interesting) and La Monnaie. This takes me up to about 20 pre-planned nights/matinees a year, to which I then add occasional trips abroad deliberately to see something (e.g. Bomarzo in 2017) and opportunistic outings when I’m in a town for work and manage to escape for an evening (e.g. Hänsel und G. in Budapest in December).

          You’d think that “under 40s” business would be illegal.

          • fletcher

            *googles ‘generational wealth gap’* … why?

          • Susan Brodie

            Yes, I would too. Though maybe the concessions for seniors and the unemployed would be as well?

          • Susan Brodie

            Opéra Comique has shown so much creativity and energy, though not everything works. There are occasionally interesting things at Bouffes du Nord and Athénée-Louis Jouvet as well. Wish I spent as much time in Paris as I did a few years ago.

            • And Bobigny, and Versailles, and at Radio France, La Philharmonie (Elektra recently with Nina Stemme)… And maybe the Châtelet will offer some operas again when it reopens.

        • La Cieca

          The Metropolitan Opera is finally addressing the issue, neglected for a generation, of building their audience, and your reaction is to get angry because someone else gets to buy tickets more cheaply than you can.

          • Susan Brodie

            Apples and oranges. The Met never had a senior discount in the first place. Sorry to be unclear.

            • Camille

              No, they didn’t. However, there were a specific number of Varis Tickets specifically earmarked for the 65+ crowd with the added convenience of being available over the phone. That all changed when it became a strictly online enterprise a couple few years back now.

        • Nelly della Vittoria

          Sorry, maybe I’m being clueless, but I’m missing a step: you don’t mean the rush tickets, which one can only only buy online? Does the portal remember how old you are, and then show you a “doubled price” message if you’re old enough? I can’t quite imagine it. While I do get those automated emails about the Under-40s events, I thought the Rush- and Student-tickets parts of the site took no notice of my age.

          • Susan Brodie

            Not the Met, the Paris Opera.

        • DonCarloFanatic

          So, for those who know how ticket sales work, does the Met sell a lot of full price last-minute tickets? Would it be damaging to sales if the Met randomly emailed people three hours before curtain with discount offers? Would that kill ticket purchases?

  • ER

    I have to disagree somewhat re: pricing. While pricey seats are indeed getting pricier, the less expensive seats have also stayed affordable. You can still get seats under 40$ for many performances at the MET (family circle, balcony boxes) where the sound is arguably the finest.
    For comparison, try getting a $40 seat for a top-ticket Broadway show. Close to impossible.

    • Susan Brodie


      • ER

        true, but TDF often doesn’t have top-tier shows (e.g., Hamilton, Dolly, etc…)

        • Susan Brodie

          I have a friend who seems to see virtually everything via TDF. She checks the listings several times/day and manages to hit at just the right time. She also won the lottery for Hamilton tickets. Not typical, I know.

  • Fergus

    I love Vittorio’s first Mario, I loved also the first Mario of Roberto!