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Caballe Delivers an Unforgettable Experience.
on 15 April 2001
Tosca's long running popularity with the public is reflected in the large number of recorded versions available. Alongside Callas under De Sabata and Price under Karajan, Caballe's account has gained classic status as an interpretation that is special. No other singer has brought such ravishingly beautiful singing to the role. In addition, Caballe gives a compelling portrayal of Tosca and highlights the full range of emotions that the role demands. In Act I, Caballe conveys the shift from deep passion to blind rage and shattered emotions spectacularly. In Act II one can hear the disgust and desperation in her voice as she bargains with Scarpia over her lover's fate. Caballe is partnered by Jose Carerras as Cavaradossi. He too is in magnificent voice and gives one of his finest recorded performances - far better than his two later recordings of the role. The only disappointment is Ingvar Wixell as Scarpia. While he sings impeccably, his interpretation lacks menace and he fails to dominate the opera as any Scarpia should. A plus point however, is that Wixell avoids the hammy theatricals that so many other Scarpias employ- thus turning Scarpia into a pantomime figure. In this respect he is far preferable to Giuseppe Taddei on the Karajan set. Colin Davis conducts the score naturally and without exaggerated tempi and the ROH forces play superbly. The 1953 Callas version, worth hearing if only for Tito Gobbi's towering interpretation of Scarpia, has long been regarded as the deinitive account. However, that recording, despite remastering, does sound dated in mono sound and is, like so many Callas recordings, grossly overpriced, especially when the Caballe recording, alongside performances of the title role by Tebaldi, Scotto, and Milanov can be enjoyed on other labels at mid price. For value and for Caballe's unforgettable performance, the Phillips set is a fantastic buy.