Necessary nudity? It’s naked Tosca at the Monnaie

Necessary nudity? It’s naked Tosca at the Monnaie


norman lebrecht

May 27, 2021

Even in Belgium, home of post-modern opera, it might be time to grow up.


Tickets here. Opens June 11.


  • Forza says:

    Grow up? (One could ask the same to you…) It’s just nudity, nothing triggering about it. Only the most natural human condition, no?

    • BrianB says:

      Never mind it has nothing to do with Puccini’s Tosca.

    • Hayne says:

      Why don’t you s**t in public? “Only the most natural human condition, no?”
      There are times and places (yes, art) for nudity.
      I think Puccini just may have objected to this…

      • Ashu says:

        [Why don’t you s**t in public?]

        This says everything about your attitude to sexuality. I pity you.

  • SlippedChat says:

    This gives new meaning to the phrase “having skin in the game.”

  • Darrell says:

    I guess they are trying to attract ‘new audiences.’

  • Y says:

    Now do Grecian sculpture.

  • Omar Goddknowe says:

    Why? What does doing Tosca in the nude accomplish besides getting attention

  • Martin says:

    the only one who has to grow up here is the one who will discuss something like this in 2021

  • PeterB says:

    We’ll be sure to take that into account once we stop winning opera awards, playing for sold-out houses and launching geniuses such as Romeo Castellucci, thank you.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Next: fully clothed Salome at the end of the dance, and everyone else naked. Sorry, it’s already been done.

  • Nijinsky says:

    Why should it make any difference, and is it a sin people are born without clothes, animals don’t wear them (unless forced to by humans)?

    Oh yeah it’s a sign of maturity. Definitely I think the fashion industry is in danger here, from this naked Tosca.

  • Nijinsky says:

    Sorry, I meant that I’m sure that the very mature fashion industry is in danger of this naked Tosca taking over its ability to bless human kind…..

    They should PROTEST!

  • fflambeau says:

    Scarpia in the buff? I think he’s more “natural” in all leather.

  • Gustavo says:

    Monnaie for nothin’ and chicks for free…

  • Stage directors wanting simply to solve the problems inherent in an opera (no small task) will not be hired. They must bring a concept. This is as true now for “tight” pieces such as Tosca (think of the specificity of the placing of the candlesticks, for example) as for “loose” works like Parsifal or Orfeo. What is more, opera company managers seek directors who are themselves already a “brand” thanks to traits they apply to every opera they mount and to notoriety. This gives them bragging rights. Your company has a new Audi Alceste? Well, ours has a new Tcherniakov Tcherevichki. Straight stagings, by contrast, generate no buzz or filming opportunity, and so no points for the preening managers. Result: money is being wasted as these imbeciles joust, and audiences, especially young people, are missing chances to savor what our composers and librettists actually left.

    • NotToneDeaf says:

      Andrew Powell, you state the issue very clearly and very accurately. I don’t have any objection to bringing interesting interpretations to these pieces but when the music and libretto are ignored in favor of “the concept” then it becomes offensive. And yes, it’s all about the “preening managers,” most of whom have no musical knowledge or training whatsoever – or really, love of opera for that matter.

  • Steven van Staden says:

    It’s not necessary. Is opera in such a bad way that we need this?

  • Adam Before the Fall says:

    Paris is trying out nudist cultural days, where certain hours at museums are reserved for nudists.

    I can’t wait to attend my first completely nude opera, audience, singer, orchestra.

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    Another blow to costume designers…

  • AndrewB says:

    About 35 years ago there was a production of Wagner’s Mastersingers in a theatre in Paris where one scene had the whole company naked. I can remember it making the evening news broadcast. Don’t think anyone would be particularly astonished by that these days. What counts are the production ideas in this Tosca beyond the nudity and whether it can all make sense in context I think. After all once you have watched the characters on stage naked for a while you have seen it all!

  • Marfisa says:

    Images of naked people in the backdrop doesn’t mean Tosca will be sung in the nude – at least the brief account in SD’s link says nothing about it.
    What they do say is: “This production of “Tosca” contains references to the film “Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma” by Pier Paolo Pasolini, which might be considered offensive by some spectators.” That might be a more interesting discussion culturally.
    In any case, Northern Europe doesn’t have the hang-ups about nudity that the prudish and prurient USA suffers from.

  • M.E.Turing says:

    can anybody imagine James Levine naked conducting Tosca (or anything else actually?)…
    what would Gurnemanz say?

  • Peter X says:

    From the Munt’s website:

    In this new production of Tosca, La Monnaie sets out to address a subject that is highly topical: the fear of God as a means to political domination.

    On his La Monnaie debut, the Spanish director Rafael R Villalobos turns a spotlight on the political, moral, and religious pressure that the Vatican exercised on the characters in Tosca. How can you cling to your faith when all around you seems to be tainted by corruption and despotism? How will Floria Tosca react when the boundary between unscrupulous power and religious dogma turns out to be threadbare?

    So: Images of naked people in the backdrop doesn’t mean Tosca will be sung in the nude .
    Grow up.

  • stanley cohen says:

    Is this the same venue which staged a Trovatore set in a single room with all of the principals seated around and in which Ferrando is shot dead by the count and his corpse remains on the stage for the remainder of the opera?

    • fred says:

      yes, and it’s done by same provoker De Caluwe, not one production of his was worthwile watching except perhaps for the Huguenots (nude as well) and for trhe idiot who talka bout prizes? Hullo nepotism, friends from the media , the inner circle, you know….it’s one big corrupt world

  • I wonder what the auditions are like.

  • BRUCEB says:

    I’d be curious to find out what the thinking is behind this, and how it’s to be implemented. (Everyone naked, all the time? Just some photographs in the background? There’s a difference.) Sometimes an idea can be surprisingly effective, in an I-never-would-have-thought-of-that way; and sometimes they are just stupid, e.g. the infamous “Ballo in the Toilets” from Calixto Bieito (sp).

  • Madeleine Richardson says:

    From the images in the tweets I have been getting the opera itself will not be performed in the nude.

    Years ago a French version of Frankenstein was staged in Brussels with the monster completely naked for the full duration of the play. He had the body of a trained and honed athlete and was completely shaven including his hair. All he wore was gold body paint.

    The result was like looking at a walking statue such as you would see in any museum of classical art. After a few minutes you forgot he was nude.

    Seriously I have seen paintings by great masters that have been more shocking. Take a bottle of smelling salts with you next time you visit a museum.

  • Nijinsky says:

    I totally fail to see what the fuss is about something or anything as completely non violent as “nudity.” What’s this about, that someone believing it’s some blemish on society, some danger, some poison, that like one can do in the US, on can have another, assisted by the threat of of actual violence, arrested for being naked. As if that makes anyone moralizing about it decent, when it’s the other way around.

    And if things were different, there wouldn’t even be the potential which is implied, but not worked out, nor can it be since the production hasn’t even been staged yet, that a director trying to be ground breaking is more interested in using nudity than respecting the music or the plot. I don’t know this to be the case, haven’t seen the production.

    All we’re really shown is some photographs the size of large paintings in a stage setting. Those are of naked people, but so is the Sistine Chapel. In fact many paintings of the time the opera is set are of naked people. You can even do a google search for naked paintings 1800 and get a hit for a whole array on sale. And Cavaradossi was a painter.

    The 2004 movie of a Merchant in Venice had an Italian Villa in it whose walls had fine art paintings, but some “boobs” were showing, and so when that movie was aired on American television they actually airbrushed out the boobs. This then is supposedly decency? I might call it childish, in reference to what’s mature and what isn’t, but that’s insulting to children. What it really is is brainwashed, something more akin to what people think being “mature” is.

    • Peter de Caluwe says:

      I am surprised these comments seem to ignore that in the palazzo farnese in rome the Caracci frescoes are packed with nudity… so where is the problem?

      • Nijinsky says:

        I don’t know what to say about it, these “unnecessary” nudes are works of art, unless of course someone is thinking they are going to step out of the painting and raise their voices creating distracting counterpoint on stage, or Scarpio might not like that they are nudes, just to find something wrong with Cavaradossi: the painter not keeping “in line.”

  • Karl says:

    What happens when a singer claims she was pressured to perform nude? Doesn’t that open someone up to a later sexual harassment charge?

  • Nijinsky says:

    Finding myself still thinking about this, the issue becomes tortuously complicated. If a singer had been hired for a production, and it wasn’t in the contract that they would have to be nude, I don’t think it would be right to force them to, or lose the job. There’s also that part of it, given how perversely nasty people can respond to anyone daring to make themselves vulnerable in such a fashion, then it’s a person’s right to just stay out of it, which should be respected. And maybe a better idea for the director to just leave it out. People aren’t in their right mind about nudity, given the suppression….