Winthrop Sargeant in The New Yorker:
As for the new Viennese director, Otto Schenk, who had devised the action, I was considerably disappointed in him. “Tosca” is a terrifying enough opera without having every point of terror exaggerated to an extent that would make it clear to a six-year old. I have never seen a production in which so much rolling on the floor and freestyle wrestling occurred. The visual pun of making Scarpia look like Napoleon is not really very clever or elucidating. And it is, I think, a great mistake to spoil the end of the second act by making Tosca light the candles she places beside Scarpia’s body. It introduces an air of deliberation in Tosca’s part that is not consistent with her character. The candles should be an afterthought, stimulated by the sight of candles already lit.
There were also a good many episodes that I am sure Mr. Schenk was not responsible for. The corpse of Cavaradossi wagged its head and lifted an arm in the last act, and in the middle of the second act Gabriel Bacquier – good actor that he is – became so immersed in his role as Scarpia that he clearly enunciated the words, “Get up!” in English to Miss Nilsson when Spoletta knocked at the door, just as if he were caught in an embarrassing clinch in real life.
Miss Nilsson was costumed in a very feminine way and made a handsome heroine. She also sang superbly and, within the framework of Mr. Schenk’s staging, acted with a great deal of conviction. Her “Vissi d’arte” was sung, as has been fashionable now and then since the time of Jeritza, as she lay on her stomach. Mr. Corelli acted when it did not interfere with the display of his voice. His “Vittoria, vittoria!” was delivered with the power appropriate to a wounded bull and was protracted beyond all rules of good taste, just to show how long his lung power could hold out. He also took all the meditative atmosphere out of “E lucevan le stelle,” tearing it to shreds and bellowing a good part of it. However, it is only fair to note that his audience shouted and pounded its approval of this vocal weight-lifting.
Happy 66th birthday actor Christoph Waltz.
Happy 72nd birthday tenor Francisco Araiza.
Birthday anniversaries of soprano Göta Ljungberg (1893), soprano/mezzo-soprano Margherita Grandi (1894), tenor Gianni Poggi (1921) and mezzo-soprano Anna Reynolds (1931).
Happy 82nd birthday conductor Alain Lombard.
Happy 81st birthday director and designer Robert Wilson.