As one reviewer has pointed out, this is THE stereo Tosca to own. Taken as a whole, meaning the singing, conducting, orchestral playing, and recording production, this Tosca is a near perfect gem. Recorded in 1962, these sessions caught Leontyne Price in glorious voice and top form. It's no wonder that she considered von Karajan a mentor, for not only is the singing beautiful, but her vocal acting in many ways approaches Callas' 1953 recording. When compared to the work she did with Leinsdorf (Ballo, Butterfly, her second Aida etc.) it's obvious that Price needed a conductor like von Karajan or Solti to bring out her better dramatic instincts. Throughout this recording, Price puts in little touches such as the amusement of Tosca's reassurance in Act III to Cavaradossi's question of proper stage-falling technique with the word "Cosi." When Price recorded Tosca again ten years later with Mehta, she leans a little too far to melodrama, missing the finer details that can make Tosca such a believable and gripping experience. Vocally speaking, Price is partnered excellently by Taddei in the role of Scarpia and more than adequately by di Stefano as Cavaradossi. Taddei is a less subtle actor than Gobbi in the '53 Callas recording, but di Stefano has actually improved his acting when compared to his earlier effort. True, his voice by then was definitely showing signs of wear (hence my judging this recording a NEAR-perfect gem), but again von Karajan proves his dramatic sense by pulling a believable character out of a singer who didn't consider acting that important. Finally, the recorded sound is spectacular. John Culshaw worked wonders in the Sofiensaal, creating a sound picture so vivid, you don't even have to close your eyes to see it. As a Decca Double, this recording is unbeatable value, a necessity for any collector, and an absolute must for anyone who's serious about Italian opera in general and Tosca in particular.