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A fitting monument to a great soprano,
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This review is from: Tosca - Pavarotti, Verrett, Metropolitan Opera [DVD]  (DVD)
I find it absolutely extraordinary that this great 1978 production from the Met has not always been available on video or DVD. It is admirably staged, if sometimes rather dark and is blessed with three outstanding leads. The stand out for me is the late Shirley Verrett, who acts and sings the part of Tosca to perfection. Alone on the stage and standing rather than the more frequent kneeling she delivers the finest "Vissi d'arte" that I have ever heard. She is partnered by Luciano Pavaroti who was then in his absolute prime. His (so called) acting is of course restricted but he is certainly more mobile than in later years. The trio of leads is completed by Cornell MacNeil who makes a very evil villain of the piece. The act two duets between Scarpia and Tosca are particularly memorable. The production is well served by ther fine playing of the orchestra under the baton of the then youthful James Conlon
In 1985 Franco Zeffirelli masterminded an amazingly lavish production of the opera again at the Met, which includes a jaw-dropping act one set in the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle. This production, under the baton of Giuseppe Sinopoli, also has three great leads although I believe that Shirley Verrett just has the edge over Hildegard Behrens. Cornell MacNeil repeats his performance as Scarpia and might if anything create an even more evil character than in 1978. Cavaradossi is sung by Placido Domingo at his ardent best. This tenor's sound may not be quite as beautiful as that of Pavarotti but there is no comparison in the acting and here Domingo gets all the honours. It is the presence of Placido Domingo and the superior staging that makes the 1985 version my first choice but Shirley Verrett is such a fine Tosca that purchase of the 1978 production is also a necessity.