4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Pavarotti at his best.,
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This review is from: Tosca - Pavarotti, Verrett, Metropolitan Opera [DVD]  (DVD)
Of the complete performances of "Tosca" that exist on DVD, this is probably one of the best. I stress "complete performances" since the second act of this opera from Covent Garden, with Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi far surpasses anything else. Unfortunately we have to be contended with the second act only, in poor quality black and white image and the sound is by no means adequate for modern standards. It is still worth watching every minute of it.
Now back to this performance from the Metropolitan Opera. It is a performance, which is very well conducted by James Conlon, who gives us with a tight, dramatic interpretation of Puccini's score. Luciano Pavarotti provides us with an unforgettable interpretation of the role of Cavaradossi. He sings beautifully, effortlessly and with a lot of feeling. It is a pity that his visual interpretation is not entirely of the same high standard as his vocal interpretation. For Pavarotti alone, it is worth getting this DVD.
Shirley Verrett is good on the whole. Produces the right notes and performs the role of Tosca, with warmth and devotion. She is constantly good throughout the opera, but when you inevitably compare her with Callas in act two, her performance falls very short in comparison. She is a much gentler Tosca than Callas and it is hard to imagine her killing Scarpia, instead of giving in to his lust, whereas with Callas, you feel that the Baron is doomed by his actions towards the end of act two.
Cornell MacNeil is a very good Scarpia. Again, in comparison with his mentor, Tito Gobbi, he is not of the same standard, but who was? MacNeil sings well, with force and passion.
The rest of the cast are good, with nobody spoiling the performance. The production by Tito Gobbi is excellent, with immense attention to detail and accuracy. It is interesting to compare this again with the performance from Covent Garden, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, to see how much Gobbi learned from that very famous stage producer.
There is a film version of "Tosca" with Placido Domingo and Raina Kabaivanska. It is hard to choose between Domingo and Pavarotti. Domingo acts better, Pavarotti sings better. On the other hand Verrett is miles ahead of Kabaivanska. Another interesting performance comes again from the Met with Behrens and Domingo, directed by Zeffirelli. It has better image and sound and it is on the whole an excellent performance, but personally I prefer the two principals in this version for their vocal output, but that said I think I am trying to split hairs.