Latest twist on that reviled 'Tosca' at the Met
This is rather funny, actually. Dan Wakin, the intrepid New York Times reporter who covers (and uncovers) the classical music scene, reports that "the Metropolitan Opera is considering bringing back its Franco Zeffirelli production of 'Tosca' next season to run in tandem with the new version directed by Luc Bondy, which was introduced to boos and reviewer scorn in September."
My favorite line is the one where Met general manager Peter Gelb "stressed
that the possible return of the Zeffirelli 'Tosca' was unconnected to the response to the Bondy production."
We apparently won't know until February, when next season's lineup is announced, whether the lavish, audience-pleasing Zeffirelli extravaganza will return, but I'd be tempted to bet on it. Of course, there's a technical reason being given for the possible reprise for the old set, having to do with backstage facilities during the time the Met will be introducing a new "Ring" Cycle, but it's hard not to suspect that this is a case of patron revenge.
Those who could not stomach the Bondy version of "Tosca" -- the booing on opening night could be heard all the way to East Orange, New Jersey -- have no doubt been directing fire at Met officials ever since. Any company that tries something new, whether unfamiliar repertoire or a fresh concept applied to standard fare, faces a backlash if it doesn't go down well with the core, invariably conservative constituency.
It's hard to imagine the Met actually allowing the public a choice between two productions of "Tosca" or any other work during the same season. I wouldn't be at all surprised if we eventually hear that, gee, we're having a little glitch with that Bondy set, so we'll just go with Zeffirelli's after all.
Even as things stand now, with only the possibility of a revival, it suggests a curious lack of courage in one's convictions. I suppose if I felt Bondy's "Tosca" (broadcast last week on PBS) was really a horror show, I'd be putting the champagne on ice now. But I still think some folks, especially some of my distinguished colleagues, doth protest too much. What a curious place the opera world can be.