For lovers of verismo Opera this is a feast. The three leads are in great form at (or near) the peak of their illustrious careers and Nello Santi conducts with firm hand and understanding a music that, let's face it, it is not that great, though has thrilling opportunities for the singers to show off their vocal prowess and it can provide good (if unsubtle) drama. A kind of minor Tosca, an opera that resembles somewhat in style and plot. Domingo sings with power and beautifully and if he lacks the squillo of Corelli, he finds unique moments of tenderness. Benacková is a worthy partner in their duets, singing with refinement and passion, and her Mamma Morta, in her own way, is as moving and powerful as any, including, yes, Callas' justly famous rendering. Finally Cappuccili almost steals the show with his pull-out-all-the-stops performance, particularly his Nemico de la Patria. The big disapointment is the very poor and unimaginative staging, which manages to be messy, bad looking and boring. The stage director deserved the booing you can clearly hear at the curtain calls from the usually well behaved Viennese audience. The picture looks good enough for a 1981 ORF telecast and the sound is very good. Get it for the great singing and just ignore the stage business. Thankfully the TV cameras concentrate on the singers in close-ups most of the time.
PS. I have to disagree with the previous reviewer regarding the extension of the applause. I am sure it was somehow edited, but luckily enough was left to feel the excitement of live Opera with a live audience. In great nights the applause is an important part of the performance as it happened.