Some thoughts on what I consider a real non-issue, but fun to
Bob Jones (I do have the first name right, don't I?) opines that only
a trampoline could possibly restore the diva to visibility on the
rebound. I'm not so sure. The version I originally encountered
purported to recount what happened in an Iowa venue on the Met's
summer tour some time around 1950. The "hall" was described in
considerable detail. It was a gymnasium in which a heroic but
ultimately unsuccessful attempt had been made to convert it into an
opera house. The stage had been set up at one end and the balcony
track of the gymnasium had been converted into a sort of family
circle. My friend sat there, around at one side, so that he was
looking down on the stage and could thus see the soprano more easily
than those in the "orchestra" on the main floor. He claimed that he
later heard that backstage was a nightmare of make-dos, and that the
matresses admittedly were perilously close to audience visibility. So
perhaps if there was even a few inches of recoil when La Tosca landed
it may have been visible from the balcony.
As I've said, I no longer believe any of the stories, but a partially
visible Tosca, for at least one bounce, does seem to be possible even
lacking the trampoline.
The published account cited by Hope Hamilton is quite unacceptable.
In the first place, I believe I heard the story about five years
earlier, so this could not have been the "original" even if it ever
happened. In the second place, I was living in New York in 1960 and
was newly married to a soprano who, if not operatic herself, had all
sorts of connections to singers who were. If such a thing had taken
place I doubt that it would have escaped our ears at the time. In the
third place, bouncing around out of control on a trampoline is a
pretty dangerous undertaking, and if management did not sack all
involved for incompetency and potential destructiveness of expensive
company property (the Tosca in question) there is an investigation
long overdue here!
But, confession time! I'm beginning to doubt my own story. The thing
is I can't recall when or by whom I was told about the Tosca
apparently hanging by her own petar... I mean, train. Both the
suspended Tosca and the bouncing Tosca depend absolutely on there
being insufficient height of the visible battlement above the
invisible landing site. May my Iowa friend have actually told me the
suspended-Tosca tale, and I've confused the two over the years?
It doesn't much matter; the Eames citation seems to make plain that
the tale, true or no, predates either Caballe at the Met or Mlle. X at
the NYCO--or Zinka in Iowa.
BTW, does it make any sense that La Tosca would be wearing a train at
6 in the morning, or whatever time the execution is supposed to be?
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