Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune:
A tepid “Tosca” is neither Sardou nor Puccini, but it was what the Metropolitan gave us at the Civic Opera House last night with Grace Moore, Charles Kullman, and Alexander Sved as its triple threat in suicide, execution, and murder. It was “Tosca” without the fireworks of stage wise production fused in brilliant song, a matter of fact affair with the stage director sound asleep on the job. Not only did the procession at the end of the first act anticipate the climax by seconds, so that Scarpia bowed to a vanished bishop, but in the second act when someone discovered that Scarpia’s table held no knife for stabbing, one was sent in by Spoletta. It looked like a butcher knife and gave Scarpia quite a turn when it was handed to him. Perhaps he was clairvoyant, and knew what it was for.
Miss Moore’s Tosca is far from her best role. She seems to work on it diligently, but it remains wooden. There are times when the warmth of her voice rushes to meet the music, and she sang “Vissi d’arte” to an avalanche of applause, but she simply isn’t Tosca. A blonde is half defeated at the start when she undertakes this creature of ice and fire, storming and cajoling in a crescendo of temperament. Nor did Valentina do too well by her in these elaborate new costumes. Surely no designer who ever saw the second act of “Tosca” would send out a gown minus a great cloak or scarf to be dragged thru that darkened door and caught in a pool of light as the curtain falls on a scene that ought to have you by the throat. Miss Moore was vividly Directoire in white, scarlet and gold, but she had a tiny scarf scarcely more than ascot size. Tsk, tsk Valentina.
Mr. Sved’s Scarpia was a much more active gentleman than on his previous visit, and by no means as effective; Scarpia’s forte is a kind of deadly elegance, and Mr. Sved’s baritone has the suavity to make that count when he feels in the mood. His makeup is a kind of obsidian Mephistopheles with a decadent cruelty that comes straight across the footlights. When he descended to ranting and raving like a toppling dictator, he lost caste.
In the midst of all this Mr. Kullman sang a competent Cavaradossi, not with the greatest tenor of the lyric world, but with charm and ease and the skill of knowing his business. Mr. De Paolis was a notable Spoletta, like some high shouldered bird of prey, and Mr. Pechner was a kind of unfinished portrait as the Sacristan – interesting as far as it went. Mr. Sodero conducted as if he knew what “Tosca” was about.
Happy 81st birthday Barbra Streisand.
Birthday anniversaries of composer Giovanni Battista Martini (1706) and Broadway performer Ruth Kobart (1924).
Happy 79th birthday soprano Norma Burrowes.