The Met is reviving David McVicar’s production of Puccini’s Tosca with Sondra Radvanovsky and Joseph Calleja as the ill-fated lovers. Radvanovsky gives a flawless portrayal of diva Tosca’s complex and volatile personality. Her ultimately unsuccessful attempts to resist the manipulations of the villainous and lecherous police chief Scarpia lead up to her superbly sung ‘Vissi d’arte’, after which her depiction of Tosca’s shift from resignation to murderous intent is convincing. Joseph Calleja is a convincingly passionate Cavaradossi, his ‘Recondita armonia’ brightly expressing the totality of the painter's commitment to Tosca, and his superbly sung ‘E lucevan le stelle’ plumbing the depths of his grief at parting from her forever. His thrilling top notes add dramatic impact in such moments as his cry of “Vittoria” on hearing the news of Napoleon’s victory at Marengo, and infuse ardent fervor into love duets.
Željko Lučić, who sang Scarpia last season when Bryn Terfel withdrew, once again stepped into the role, for this performance only. (Claudio Sgura takes over for the remainder of the Fall run, replacing Wolfgang Koch, who will appear next Spring.) Lučić deftly portrays the Baron’s sly and unctuous treatment of Tosca as well as his forceful advances, to which Radvanovsky’s expressions of horror are convincing. The only shortcoming was that Lučić’s imprecations of “Va Tosca!” did not penetrate sufficiently above the din of the ‘Te Deum’ that ends Act One. Patrick Carfizzi makes the most of the humorous business that occupies the Sacristan and Brenton Ryan exudes evil as Scarpia’s right-hand man.
The Met Chorus and Children are in fine form, and the Orchestra plays gorgeously for Carlo Rizzi. McVicar’s production depicts the specific date, times of day and Rome locales at which Tosca is set, a marked change from the abstract, unattractive and unloved Luc Bondy production that in 2009 replaced Franco Zeffirelli’s 1985 setting. Without attempting to match the latter’s elaborate and exquisite realism, John Macfarlane’s sets succeed in capturing the essence of each location, and his costumes, especially those for the citizenry in Act One and the soldiers in Act Three, are also illustrative of the period.