Madness broke out at the Metropolitan Opera’s opening gala last night: the Met had replaced Franco Zeffirelli’s crowd-pleasing Tosca (which has been a staple since 1985) with a new interpretation by Swiss director Luc Bondy.
The audience was not pleased.
The show’s stars received warm ovations after the show, though they have not done as well with all critics (Soprano Karita Mattila was “frumpily attired,” had “scant charisma” and “sings with energy if not much warmth and only periodic attention to words,” wrote Manuela Hoelterhoff of Bloomberg). But when Bondy and his production team came on stage they were greeted with resounding boos. Where were the picturesque Roman sets? The candle-lit death scenes? The heroine’s dramatic final fall? Whither Tosca?
To the unitiated, of course, none of this makes a whole lot of sense.
“If art is a secular religion, opera can be a particularly orthodox sect of it. Certain rituals have become codified with time,” wrote Ann Midgette in the Washington Post. When Luc Bondy ditched the rituals, he “virtually guaranteed a lusty chorus of boos.”
We wonder if Billy Joel and his latest youthful companion were among the aggrieved.
Further reading: the Observer‘s Zachary Woolfe on general manager Peter Gelb and the changes he’s brought to the Met.