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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Tosca,
Amazon.com has about 30 reviews of this great recording and I'm not surprised. This really is one of the greatest recordings I have ever listened to and I am so glad it served as my introduction to opera and in particular to Callas, Gobbi and di Stefano. They, and the conductor are wonderful. Callas provides a portrayal that is moving, passionate, technically flawless and so convincing it has always eclipsed any other version I have tried to listen to. Her acting ability and understanding of the role is incredible. Each scene is beautifully crafted - but this is not only down to Callas. Di Stefano is a wonderful partner to her - loving and forgiving of her jealousy - yet he is powerless against the truly frightening Tito Gobbi as Scarpia. His scenes with Callas during the torture of Cavaradossi are very real, scary and again brilliantly conducted.
I am aware I have used nothing but superlatives here, but I think in this recording there are justified. Its set-pieces are wonderful, as is the orchestra and the whole opera comes together perfectly. Each time you listen to it, (if you agree with me and enjoy this recording) you can find something new - for eg. at the end of act II as Tosca justifies her cries in church to Scarpia: "Egli vede ch'io piango!" (..He sees me weeping) is sung with such emotion it cannot fail to move you.
The sound quality is fine. I suppose it's not like today's stereo DDD quality, but it really is fine and there's no hissing, crackling or imbalances as far as I can tell and I have listened to the recording many, many times. It has the feel and atmosphere of a live performance without the disadvantages crowd noise. What every studio recording should aim for.
If you read the reviews at amazon.com, they get a bit caught up in arguing with each other about various irrelevancies, but one thing I haven't seen is any complaints about the sound.
If I could give this 6 stars I would - if you like Tosca you will love this.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!!!,
This recording comes from what was very probably the best phase of Callas's career. Her voice and art were then, in 1953, probably at their best point of equilibrium. When I here Callas sing Vissi d'arte it just sends shivers down my back everytime.
The plot takes place in Rome in June 1800, Floria Tosca and Mario Cavaradossi are in love and all they want is to be left alone. Baron Scarpia, however, wants Floria for his physical needs. He arrests Mario for aiding a fugitive and tells Tosca she can save him by giving herself to him. She agrees, but the kiss he has so longed for is the fatal kiss of a knife blade. He had promised to set up a false execution for Mario, but the treachery of Scarpia is revealed as Mario is killed. Tosca vows to meet Scarpia in front of God as she leaps over the side of the building to her death.
As one listens to this CD, it would surely seem that if love-affairs between artist and a particular role really exist at all, this must have been one of them.
This recording is essential to any masterpiece collection.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The One Tosca,
It is, doubtless, the reference Tosca. There are other great versions, I am thinking of Te Kanawa and Aragall's, but this one is perfect. Sound, interpretation, orchestra, everything.
Callas is wonderful. She admitted in an interview that Tosca was not her favourite role. However, it is mine. She is wonderful. The complexity of the character is marvellously portrayed and transmitted. The phrasing is perfect, the expression, I only regret it is not possible to rate it with more stars.
Cavaradossi, although a less psychological role, is vital for the opera. It puts the passionate, sincere, strength to the action. Di Stefano's acting is in this sense perfect. In fact, I see other versions lack of his strength; the main factor is the power at the beginning of the notes, being their following development less critical. While others take a few hundredths of a second to give full power in each new note, Di Stefano dominates the violent startings required for the crucial scenes. His cry of "Victoria! Victoria!" is astonishing. However, his sensitivity is also displayed in the more delicate parts, and he portrays a subtle and strong character. The perfect match for Tosca.
To do justice, Gobbi must also be praised. In fact, the three main characters are very well understood and coordinated.
I would like to highlight the initial duo Cavaradossi/Tosca, "E Lucevan le Stelle" and the final "Mario! Mario!".
In summary, the recording is a realization of the magic of the genre.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest opera recordings ever!,
This recording is absolutely stunning! Callas at her finest! Maria Callas is possibly the most passionate, most moving soprano ever recorded. In terms of my favorites, she is definitely number one, followed even by Joan Sutherland. This is one of her best recordings. This was made in the prime of her career, and shows her vocal talent phenomenally! Despite Callas' phenomenal performance, the orchestra and other singers manage to match it. Nothing in this recording could be better. Tosca is also one of the most beautiful and moving operas ever written. This recording could not be better. You will not be sorry if you buy this! The only recording that could possibly top it is Solti's recording of Wagner's Ring Des Nibelungen. When you listen to this, the beauty will transport you to another world. This is opera in its purest form. You have not lived until you have listened to this recording!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is IT,
I'm not an expert on opera; in fact, much of it gives me headache, but I can't understand ANYONE not being moved by this music. To this story of love, lust, 'politics', blackmail, torture, betrayal, death etc. Giacomo Puccini simply created the most beautiful music ever. Period. There are the 'show stoppers' like Recondita Armonia, Vissi D'arte and E Lucevan Le Stelle, but first and foremost, the opera should be heard as a whole. All 3 acts are wonderful, but (for me) the best and most moving drama is in the 2nd act. I can't really describe it, you just have to hear it.
As for this recording, it's second to none. You can't beat Callas (Tosca) and Gobbi (Scarpia), and Di Stefano (Cavaradossi) is okay too (he he). I know that Callas' voice isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's MY cup of tea, so there you go! This opera especially requires a dramatic voice, and Callas certainly had that. The same goes for Tito Gobbi.
Summa summarum, it is the best possible recording of the best possible music; what more could you want?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Tosca,
As almost everyone for the past 50 years has said at one time or another, this is a supreme recording and one of the wonders of the classical catalogue.
The singing, playing, conducting and 'feel' complements Puccini's music perfectly. The mono sound is OK and even picky listeners will forget about any shortcomings in the face of such a great performance.
However, the number of different issues and remasters of this work is confusing, to say the least. In addition to at least three different EMI CD issues with different prices and packaging, there is a Naxos issue which is transferred from LPs, a special and costly EMI edition with Maria Callas postcards and a cheaper EMI minimalist edition without a libretto.
I have no idea which is the latest and best remaster, maybe check the remastering date on the back cover before ordering. There is also a 'Naxos' issue, minus libretto, which has (it's claimed) been mastered from three different LP sets to deal with various cuts and sound issues which it is claimed affect the EMI sets. Perhaps have a listen before purchase.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars carissima,
This is the ultimate recording for any lover of Callas to listen and learn from. She brings life, love, hate and death directly into your conscience. There will never be a recording or personallity like Callas again.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but definately not the best version!,
Sorry, this might upset some other reviewers and 'purists' but I have to say as good as this recording is, and it is, callas does give a good performance, but it doesn't hold a candle to the 1962 Karajan recording on decca legends with Leontyne price as Tosca she is absolutely stunning in the role, I defy anyone not to be moved and have the hairs go up on the back of their neck when they listen to her vissi d'arte(my ultimate favourite opera aria), so do yourself a favour and get that cd now! You won't regret it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Divine, spine tingling performance,
Simply the best version. The drama, the passion and the beauty of this version is undeniable.
5.0 out of 5 stars heads my collection of recordings of this opera,
This review is from: Puccini Tosca (MP3 Download)
..for dramatic truth above all. Callas is Tosca. much has been said in praise of this recording and I expect the sound has improved even more in this set's remasterings than the first UK full priced CD version which I bought on its initial release in the 80s and which I treasure. Even though the sound is dated it does not detract from the drama and superb musical values of this famous recording, which is paced so marvellously by De Sabata. The merits of Gobbi and Di Stefano are well known. This great recording deserves a place in any serious collection of Italian opera.
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