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Subject: Terfel and Tosca (was Re: Faust)
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Fri, 8 Dec 2017 12:12:30 -0500

text/plain (75 lines)

Angelo wrote (in part):

"Bryn Terfel is reported to have told Met people after the disastrous Tosca staging that he 
would not return to the company until he approved of the production.  He obviously has 
been convinced that the  new Tosca due later this month is more to his liking."

* * * * *

I've some serious doubts Mr. Terfel hated Bondy's Tosca (which I enjoyed) or refused to 
return in it.  As best I know Terfel and Bondy enjoyed a good working relationship, the 
singer garnering enormous success in his highly praised “Salome” in and again in Covent 

As for Tosca, Terfel made a meal of Scarpia in Lehnhoff’s controversial production (again 
with Malfitano) so much so that the opera could almost be called “Scarpia.”  Lehnhoff strips 
off the baroque trappings and seems to have set Puccini’s melodrama in Hell.  
Te Deum finds  Scarpia alone before a large painting of the devil and at each cannon burst 
columns covering the stage erupt with flames, the cameras catching Scarpia’s malevolent 
sneer, as flames leap up towards him.  It is positively thrilling.  

For the second act, Scarpia’s apartment looks to be in an industrial warehouse.  A massively 
long two prong staircase dominates the rear whose massive walls go up to the fly space.  A 
gargantuan turbine stage right lends an ominous subterranean feeling. One immediately 
senses this is not a fun place.  Then there’s Mean Mister Scarpia, reclined on an eight foot 
long divan, donned in . . . skintight silk lizard skin patterned lounge with matching 
sleeveless vest, stroking a beautiful yellow tabby cat like a Bond villain.  Terfel eats it all up 
like a Sunday dinner.  

When Tosca first appears at Chez Scarpia, all we see are her red high heels coming down 
the first staircase –  shoes she will remove before reclining on the divan for Scarpia to 
collect his prize.  It is only after his murder do we realize that the massive staircases have 
disappeared and we, along with Tosca are completely trapped.  There are no other doors the 
room now converted into an enormous death trap, its only air seemingly coming in from the 
turbine.  Tosca goes into a genuine panic during the dumb show – now stripped/relieved of 
the pseudo-religious crucifix/candelabra business.  In her search for the safe passage 
conduct, Tosca discovers and takes a gun hinting at her later suicide.  As if by divine 
intervention a panel opens up and moonlight streams in revealing a hidden, secret exit.  
Pistol in hand and fur coat trailing behind her behind Tosca escapes.  Thrilling.  

The final act is on an enormous stage filling disc, the floor of which is covered by the 
shadow of light pouring down from the turbine – which is now in the ceiling.  The rear of the 
stage gives the feeling of being at the edge of the world – with the moon and stars 
reflecting in the night.  After the execution, now fully deranged Tosca holds Scarpia’s 
henchmen at bay waving the gun – and one almost senses she’s going to blow her brains 
out . . . but instead she runs, flings it to the ground and takes a flying leap out the heavens 
that took my breath away – that mane of hair wildly trailing behind her as Sciarrone and 
Spoletta hit the ground safely watching her from above.  Loved this, and clearly the cast 
reveled in this inspired, unusual regie.

A few photos:

And the Te Deum


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