Metropolitan Opera Preview 2017-18: A Look Back At the Numerous ‘Tosca’ Productions

By David Salazar

On New Years Eve the Metropolitan Opera will premiere a new production of Puccini’s “Tosca.”

The production, which will be directed by David McVicar comes on the heels of a controversial one by Luc Bondy (his interpretation of the Puccini work was infamously booed on its opening night).

While the Met has showcased Tosca a whopping 950 times since its first ever performance of the work on Feb. 4, 1901, it hasn’t undergone much change in terms of productions. To be clear, the Met Opera’s archives are not always clear on directors in the early parts of the 20th century.

William Parry

This first-ever performance of “Tosca’s” with the company on the fourth of February, 1901. It featured Milka Ternina as the diva on its opening night with Giuseppe Cremonini as Cavaradossi and Antonio Scotti as Scarpia. It was the US premiere of the famed Puccini opera and Parry is credited as the director; his name doesn’t appear again in the archives, so it is unclear about his overall involvement.

Ricard Ordynski

The second new production of the opera is credited with Ordynski, who directed a few of the early performances. This production took its bow with Geraldine Farrar as the primadonna while Paul Althouse played her lover Cavaradossi and Scotti remained the leading Scarpia of his day. Per the archives, this production stood until the late 1960s.

Otto Schenk

At this point the archives provide greater clarity on productions, though there are still dates that don’t necessarily include the production or director. In any case, Schenk’s production premiered on Oct. 4, 1968 with a superstar cast that included Birgit Nilsson, Franco Corelli, and Gabriel Bacquier. It stood until 1984.

Franco Zeffirelli

Now comes the big one. The only Met production more iconic than this “Tosca” is Zeffirelli’s “La Bohème.” And the Met knows it and wouldn’t touch it, lest the company wants similar reactions to the Bondy production when it replaced Zeffirelli’s. Known of its incredible scale and detail, it served the company for over 20 years and over 200 performances. Its first performance featured Plácido Domingo, Hildegard Behrens, and Cornell MacNeil.

Luc Bondy

The most recent production and most short-lived (the only Met “Tosca” with less than 100 performances), Bondy’s opening night cast included Karita Matilla, Marcelo Alvarez, and George Gagnidze.

David McVicar

This year’s production will star Sonya Yoncheva, Vittorio Grigolo, and Zeljko Lucic on opening night.