Just in: Maestro quits Met’s swing-door Tosca

Just in: Maestro quits Met’s swing-door Tosca


norman lebrecht

July 10, 2017

By the time the public see Tosca at the Met on New Year’s Eve not much will be left of the original team.

First, Jonas Kaufman quit as Cavaradossi, saying he didn’t want to be away that long from his family in Europe. Then, Kristine Opolais declined the title role ‘for personal reasons’, causing international ructions in the search for a replacement.

Now her husband, Andris Nelsons has told the Met he ‘has withdrawn’. No reason given.

So here’s the second line up:

Tenor: Grigolo

Soprano: Yoncheva

Conductor: Levine.

Who knew Tosca could be such a farce?

Bryn Terfel is still hanging on as Scarpia.


  • Raymond says:

    So booking this conductor-soprano team adds a multiple to your cancellation risk. Hirer beware!

  • Bruce says:

    If the current team can stay healthy & show up, it looks like this should be pretty darn good.

  • Waltraud Becker says:

    Will Terfel stay in the cast?

  • Kenneth Berv says:

    Grigolo, Yoncheva, Terfel, and the newly restored, more lightly scheduled Levine!
    Quell domage…❤️

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Switching from Nelsons to Levine for an opera is an upgrade many other opera houses couldn’t dream of.

    • Olassus says:

      Yeah, yeah … Levine probably asked to take over.

    • Yes Addison says:

      “Some of those well-reviewed performances came off with extraordinary measures behind the scenes, Met employees said. Orchestra players who had trouble reading Mr. Levine’s beat relied more on intuition of what they thought he would want and on watching the concertmaster. Singers onstage looked more to the prompter’s box for direction. And Donald Palumbo, the Met’s chorus master, conducted the chorus from the wings of the stage, with using an audio monitor to help him coordinate with the orchestra.” (Michael Cooper, New York Times, 2016)

      Doesn’t sound like a dream to me. But December is a long way away, and this may not end up happening.

  • Jaura says:

    Major bummer.

  • Edgar says:

    Maybe the couple is expecting but no announcement has been made…? I dunno, but it could be a good reason for withdrawing: family.

    • Bill Kenny says:

      It’s possible the Met canned her. Her Manon Lescaut was boring and unidiomatic, and she barely got through “Vissi d’arte” at the recent 50th Anniversary gala.

      • Mark says:

        Among the female singers, she was by far the weakest link in that Met gala. Also, I’d take Levine over Nelsons any day !

  • MacroV says:

    I don’t think we’re at the point yet where Levine substituting for Nelsons is a letdown. Glad to see he’s fit enough to take it on.

  • Marg says:

    Sounds a pretty good cast to me.

  • Marshall says:

    Let’s see-we go to a new production to replace the Bondy abomination, to a realistic one…you mean like the Zeffirelli one? Will this be Zeffirelli lite? On an intermission feature of an HD the new Tosca creative team, with such amazement in their eyes, says they are actually reproducing a statue that is on the Castel Sant Angelo! -Who would have thought of such an idea before, that such a thing is possible, and out of plastic? And Gelb is in the midst of a financial crisis-are there no warehouses?

    Then he can’t obtain the services of the leading tenor in the world (thought I have my own misgivings about him), and we’ve been through this before. Does anyone buy the official explanation-there are private jets? Maybe he just doesn’t like an opera house managed by Gelb.

    Now we’re left with one of the original cast members. My own opinion -and I think he was splendid in Romeo and some lighter roles -Cavaradossi is still a size too big for Grigolo. Certainly sounded that way at the recent gala, and tor the sake of his future I wish he had waited a bit longer for the role.

    • Yes Addison says:

      Can we let Zeffirelli go? He’s ninetysomething years old. He hasn’t done new work for the Met in almost 20 years. At some point, his productions will be as frequently encountered on the stages of the world as those of Herbert Graf, Rudolf Hartmann, or Wieland Wagner.

      Nothing of David McVicar’s has ever made me think of Franco Zeffirelli, including his fairly straightforward treatments of the Donizetti Tudor operas. The Bondy/Peduzzi Tosca wasn’t good, I agree, but a new one could realistically reproduce the environments and not be all that much like the Reagan-era extravaganza. The Met had a “realistic” Tosca before that one too.

      • Marshall says:

        Don’t be so literal minded-it is not Zeffirelli himself but the concept of opera being what it is, rather than third rate directors, who really want to be directing movies, reinterpreting operas, changing the era they were originally set in because a) they think opera goers are stupid people-true to an extent b)they think they have more talent than he composer c) think they can make it a more popular art form, save it-which isn’t working.

        You do know that they are spending the money because nobody-could stand the Bondy fiasco. My point is if they are just going to do a poor mans’ version of a realistic Tosca, why not store the older ones and bring them out again. (The Met may have a financial collapse-why not a realistic use of funds, rather than an ideological one?) What a novel idea for opera-experiment-then return to a traditional production. Maybe it will help build an audience. Another novel idea would be leave the operas where the composer intended, and do something creative with the directing, interpretation- but that might take some talent.

        By the way did you see that interview I referred to? Why I mocked it was they seemed to think they were so clever that they actually went to the site-in this most specific and literal setting of Puccini.

        • Sir David McVicar says:

          Dear “Marshall”, I don’t believe we regard ourselves as “clever”, simply professional. The point of any pre-publicity interviews that we do is to inform the audience of our intentions, leaving it to them to decide whether to invest in tickets or not for the production under discussion. Clarifying that the new designs for Tosca make reference to the Roman locations rather than abstracting the piece (an equally valid strategy, incidentally) is naturally part of that process. Thank you.

          • Zeitgeist says:

            Thank for your answer. I have seen your Adriana Lecouvreur and know you will treat Tosca with the respect it deserves.

          • Marshall says:

            Long ago I stopped paying attention to the names on Internet conversations-they could be any body.
            But last nights Norma reminded me of this discussion from a couple of months ago.

            I think the very fact that a more traditional Tosca is required after a “radical” one brings out that at least in the US to keep the remaining aging audience Regietheater, and radical reworkings of operas will not keep them in their seats. The radical approach can only be used sparingly at the Met, and what has come to dominate is what I call Gelb lite-basically traditional productions, but without the opulence and delight of the real deal.

            Oh, excuse me,the interview was a marketing ploy-I missed that.
            The designers were going on about it as if this were the invention of the wheel. Excuse my sarcasm, but it seemed so painfully obvious.

            Respectfully, “abstracting the piece (an equally valid strategy, incidentally)” from my perspective is not valid with this opera. As I said an opera that is so specific,and literal in its setting, and uses the music to help create that, should remain where it’s set, and of course, can then be interpreted in different ways. (we all know Puccini’s study of the sounds and bells of early morning Rome etc.) Let’s be honest, Tosca is what it is-and what it is, is not so bad, even for a shabby little shocker of a melodrama, and doesn’t need a new strategy.

            Some operas give an opportunity to abstraction (Wagner especially), and that has its place-but alas that is not what is taking place in today’s dying opera world. It is substituting the historic, literal setting of an opera, with another specific, but different historic setting, with its own connotations and baggage. IMO this is not a fruitful course, and undermines the original creator-the composer.

            IMO this strategy is not saving opera, making it more relevant, broadening its audience, but is an indicator of its decline, and sign of lost confidence in an art form. Opera directors in their feverish need to express their own relevance- with their theatrical gimmicks, obligatory changing of the historical period -oh God another Wagner that uses his head as a set, another invocation of a swastika-are like scavengers feeding off a once great art form.

  • Heath says:

    Grigolo, Yoncheva, Levine, I know I will be there. Very excited right now.