I have had this recording for some time and I have put off watching it because I have seen many other Toscas. I need not have worried. Seeing and hearing this production is like experiencing Tosca for the very first time. The casting of Angela Gheorghiu, Bryn Terfel and Jonas Kaufmann is unbeatable on the contemporary opera stage. All three can act as well as sing. The melodrama is, if anything, played down but the plot is made all the more menacing by the realistic portrayals. Bryn Terfel is a master of understated menace and his interpretation is the opposite of the pantomime villain that Scarpia can sometimes become.
Angela Gheorghiu is a cool, calculating killer. After her heart-rending Vissi D'Arte the audience, naturally erupts into applause. After the applause dies down Scarpia does an ironic handclap himself. The knifing of Scarpia is not a bloodcurdling as some productions I have seen but I particularly liked the calm way that Tosca places a candle at either side of his body.
Jonas Kaufmann acquits himself well in his two big arias and I particularly liked his O Dolci Mani immediately before his execution. The opera ends with Gheorghiu making an impressive dive from the castle parapet, much better than the stunt double she used in the 2001 film.