"The Metropolitan Opera Season That Vanished" - NYTimes feature
‘Tosca’ at The Metropolitan Opera
... this performance abounded in crackling energy, sure-paced suspense, romantic reverie and thrilling singing from Radvanovsky and Jagde ... In Jagde she (Radvanovsky) had a tenor who could match her soaring power. It’s hard to believe that he spent almost 10 years early in his career as a baritone. On Thursday his enormous, vibrant voice was capped by exciting top notes ... it’s hard to complain when you have a singer with such a big, beefy instrument.
“Critic’s Pick: ‘Tosca’ Catches Fire at the Met Opera – Sondra Radvanovsky and Brian Jagde sing thrillingly, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts a superb performance of Puccini’s classic …
Sometimes, for reasons no one can fully explain, an opera performance just catches fire. That’s what happened at the Metropolitan Opera on Thursday, when Puccini’s “Tosca” returned.
In a fall at the Met that’s been full of momentous new works, intriguing repertory firsts and six-hour epics, this seemed on paper just an ordinary revival of David McVicar’s production. The soprano Sondra Radvanovsky was returning in the title role; the tenor Brian Jagde was appearing at the Met for the second time, singing Cavaradossi; the veteran baritone George Gagnidze (a late replacement for Evgeny Nikitin) was Scarpia; and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Met’s music director, was in the pit.
Yet starting with the opening measures, chilling orchestral chords that represent the villainous Scarpia, this performance abounded in crackling energy, sure-paced suspense, romantic reverie and thrilling singing from Radvanovsky and Jagde.
In Jagde she (Radvanovsky) had a tenor who could match her soaring power. It’s hard to believe that he spent almost 10 years early in his career as a baritone. On Thursday his enormous, vibrant voice was capped by exciting top notes … it’s hard to complain when you have a singer with such a big, beefy instrument.”
“Hearing Brian Jagde’s powerhouse Cavaradossi, it’s hard to believe that he last sang at the Met in April 2014, when he made his debut as Count Elemer in Strauss’s Arabella. This performance marked only his seventh Met performance, and he deserves to return as often as possible. Jagde’s plush, copper-tinged tenor filled the Met in Cavaradossi’s most thrilling, hair-tingling moments (Act II’s “Vittoria!”) and was honey-sweet and tender in the Act I and Act III duets (“Ah, quagli occhi al mondo” and “O dolci mani,” respectively). Most importantly, Jagde and Radvanovsky had natural chemistry. You actually believed that Tosca and Cavaradossi loved and liked each other, making Tosca’s sacrifice that much more believable and the final betrayal that much more heartbreaking and unjust.”
“Metropolitan Opera 2021-22 Review: Tosca – Brian Jagde and Sondra Radvanovsky Deliver Show-Stopping Performances … Under the baton of Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the evening’s cast was comprised of highly-experienced artists who brought their gifts to bear before a nearly-full house …
In the role of Cavaradossi, Brian Jagde was in excellent form throughout, cutting a fine balance between strength and sensitivity. His aria “Recondita Armonia” opened with cooler, hearty tones before his mention of the unknown woman brought both energy and great affection. These qualities carried into a soaring B-flat conclusion that was both passionate and precise. Jagde’s ardent vocality was not limited to just the love scenes, as heard in such dramatic moments as when he swears to help Angelotti, and in his confrontations and eventual torture at the hands of Scarpia. His Act three aria “E lucevan le stelle,” was a poignant and reflective journey through sweeter memories, with Jagde’s crushed bearing reflected in his uneasy steps as he brought himself across the stage for a kneeling, forte conclusion which drew tremendous applause.
In the title role, Sondra Radvanovsky brought a wealth of interpretive experience as well as gorgeous execution. The quick jealousies of her opening lines soon melted into a playful charm before her duets with Jagde “Non la spiri, la nostra casetta,” and “Qual’occhio” …
Together, Jagde and Radvanovsky displayed great chemistry through their interactions, as they flirted, bickered, embraced, and followed one another about the stage, all the while retaining the support which let them be heard effortlessly. This chemistry sweetly underscored moments of tenderness that punctuate the later drama, such as when they reunite amidst Cavaradossi’s torture, and when they believe they are about to escape in Act three. We saw the brief return of levity and flirtation as Tosca instructs him on the supposedly-fake execution, setting up the impending tragic turn …
Thursday’s performance had much to enjoy between the captivating artists and authentic staging, and the audience made that all the more clear through its great showing of support. Audiences will not want to miss the pairing of Jagde and Radvanovsky through their December run of performances.”
Image: Ken Howard / Met Opera