The Metropolitan Opera – David McVicar’s production of Puccini’s Tosca – Sondra Radvanovsky, Brian Jagde, George Gagnidze; conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Tosca – Melodramma in three Acts to a libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa & Luigi Illica based on the play La Tosca by Victorien Sardou [sung in Italian, with Met surtitles in English, German, Spanish and Italian]

Floria Tosca – Sondra Radvanovsky
Mario Cavaradossi – Brian Jagde
Baron Scarpia – George Gagnidze
Cesare Angelotti – Kevin Short
Sacristan – Patrick Carfizzi
Spoletta – Tony Stevenson
Sciarrone – Christopher Job
A Shepherd Boy – Mila DiPolo
Jailer – Adam Lau

The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
The Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera
Yannick Nézet-Séguin

David McVicar – Production
John Macfarlane – Set & Costume Designer
David Finn – Lighting Designer
Movement Director – Leah Hausman
Revival Stage Director – Gina Lapinski

5 of 5 stars

Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski

Reviewed: 2 December, 2021
Venue: Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York City

In this, the Metropolitan Opera’s second revival of David McVicar’s 2017 realistic, retro-style staging of Puccin’s Tosca, Sondra Radvanovsky returns to her signature role of Floria Tosca, opera’s quintessential prima donna, caught in the middle of a violent and passionate Roman love-triangle between her lover, the painter and republican sympathizer Mario Cavaradossi, and Baron Scarpia, the sadistic Roman chief of police who lusts after her. In a spectacular performance full of strong singing and admirable acting, Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads a vigorous and richly detailed reading of this thrillingscore. 

With her blazingly powerful soprano and superb dramatic skills, Radvanovsky is a magnificent Tosca – cheerful and coquettish in her Act One scenes with her beloved Mario, fearful and distressed when she reveals the escaped prisoner Angelottti’s hiding place in Act Two, ferocious at the end when, after stabbing Scarpia three times, she taunts the torso of his corpse with “E avanti a lui tremava tutta Roma” (And before him all Rome trembled), and totally anguished in the final moments of the drama when she realizes Mario has been shot dead for real by the firing squad. Her aria “Vissi d’arte” (I lived for art) is both deeply despairing and exceedingly elegant. 

Solidly-cast as Cavaradossi, Brian Jagde is handsome in both voice and appearance. Tall and strapping, and possessing an expressive and sonorous tenor, he is exceptionally well-paired with Radvanovsky. His emotionally intense rendition of “E lucevan le stelle” (And the stars were shining), the Act Three aria in which, overcome with emotion, he remembers the impassioned moments he has spent with Tosca, is a highlight of the evening. 

As a late replacement for Evgeny Nikitin, George Gagnidze holds more than his own as the voluptuary sadist Scarpia, the part he had already been slated to take on in the MET’s January 2022 run of the opera. With his burly bass-baritone and hefty stage presence, he most effectively conveys the villain’s maniacal malevolence as well as his aristocratic arrogance. 

All the supporting roles are well taken. Chief among them is that of the Sacristan who potters around the church and cleans the paintbrushes Cavaradossi uses for his portrait of the Madonna. Bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi, who is marking the twenty-second anniversary of his company debut this season, is wonderfully animated and amiable as that character, which he also embodied in this production’s two previous runs. Kevin Short as the escaped political prisoner Angelotti and Tony Stevenson as Spoletta, the police agent who assists in the arrest and torture of Cavaradossi, are uniformly excellent.

McVicar’s sumptuous production, a re-creation of the story’s early-nineteenth-century Roman locales, holds up extremely well, as do John Macfarlane’s sets and period costumes. David Finn’s lighting designs are wonderfully atmospheric, and Leah Hausman’s direction of movement is fine. 

Nézet-Séguin uses his high-octane conducting style to elicit a colorfully textured, perfectly paced performance, one which allows plenty of opportunities for the three leading singers to shine, both vocally and dramatically, in this splendidly rendered revival of one of the most-loved operas.

  • Further performances with this cast on December 5 (matinee), 11 (matinee), 15, and 18 
  • Performances on January 8, 14, 17, 21, 16, and 29 and on March 2, 5, 9, and 12 with different artists
  • The December 11 performance will be broadcast live beginning at 1pm Eastern Time via the Toll Brothers–Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.

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