>From the desk of GIORGIO MIGLIAVACCA (British Virgin Islands)
ITALIAN DIGEST 5 JULY 1997
SEVEN MATTRESSES AND QUITE A FEW BOOS FOR TOSCA
LA SCALA: APPLAUSE AND BOOS GREET TOSCA
While most of the public applauded, the galleries insisted on booing the
new Tosca. At one point someone from the stalls yelled "shame!" to the
loggionisti (galleries regulars). Bravo too, but also widespread signs of
disagreement directed to just about all the singers. So says Corriere della
Sera (5 July 1997).
Raimondi was generously applauded at the end of Act II, but he was also the
target of some boos. Backstage the singers were in a jolly mood.
The house was filled to capacity with many tourists in the audience.
As many as seven mattresses were used to buffer Tosca's jump from St.
Angelo' Castle. This was overly-cautious since the landing point was hardly
ten feet below....better safe the sorry.
RISQUE? MAY BE! BUT TOSCA IS ALSO A RISKY OPERA
Floria Tosca -- or the perilous opera.
Francesco Colombo in a short editorial side-bar published today by Corriere
della Sera (5 July 1997) gives a short list of unfortunate accidents that
marred Tosca performances of the past.
*** New York 1920s -- Maria Jeritza (too hot to handle) stabs Scarpia
(Antonio Scotti) and actually wounds him. Scotti escapes death by sheer luck.
***Covent Garden 1965 -- Callas fumbles too much with candle-holders and
candelabra; as a result her wig goes up in fire. Scarpia (Gobbi) comes to
the rescue and then while quenching the fire, he takes her to....bed. Gobbi
should have won an oscar award for the best "fireman" ever to sing on an
opera stage. Not only he saved the performance, he also saved the
primadonna from going up in.....smoke.
***Caracalla Baths, Rome 1965 -- Tenor Gianni Raimondi faces the rifles
ready to die in a manly manner. The shots are real and the tenor is scorched
by a few wild bullets but survives.
***Colon, Buenos Aires 1970s -- same as Caracalla, tenor Giorgio Merighi
***Macerata, Sferisterio, Italy, 1995 -- Tenor Fabio Armiliato is shot, he
falls dead as expected. Then.....he gets up painfully howling (meanwhile
Tosca /Kabaivanska sings "How beautiful my Mario is...drop dead! (to
Scarpia of course)....Here is an artist!". Mario moves on limping very badly
and bleeding from his left leg. As if nothing had happened Kabaivanska
instead of helping Mario, goes to the parapet and jumps from the Castle.
***Met -- (is this true?) Caballe jumps from the Castle and bounces back --
quite a sight [Giorgio's note -- I read in a booklet on Opera's biggest
disasters that this had happened earlier on in another place to a soprano
who had to change her name because of a similar accident; perhaps Colombo is
confusing this one with Caballe]
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ST THOMAS VI
Co' fanciulli e coi dementi
Spesso giova il simular
With children and demented people
It is often best to pretend
[Rigoletto, Act II]
::--)) ;;--)) *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Winston Churchill was once asked if he knew where
the British Virgin Islands were: "I have no idea," he said
"but I should think they are as far as possible from
the Isle of Man".