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|Puccini, Callas, Di Stefano|
Little can be added to what's been written about this landmark recording, except that Walter Legge's 1953 mono production yields nothing to modern recordings of Tosca in vivacity and theatrical impact--especially that of M... more »
Amazon. com essential recording
Little can be added to what's been written about this landmark recording, except that Walter Legge's 1953 mono production yields nothing to modern recordings of Tosca in vivacity and theatrical impact--especially that of Maria Callas. All the more so with this marvelously remastered edition. The miraculous Victor de Sabata conjures a vibrant, inspiring orchestral canvas that enables Callas and her stellar cohorts to work their magic. Tito Gobbi and Callas spur each other to such heights that the characters replace the singers in the listener's mind. Giuseppe Di Stefano is on his best behavior and in fresher voice than on his fine Leontyne Price-Herbert von Karajan remake. On this set, EMI includes texts, translations, and notes that discuss this recording in the context of Callas's mercurial career. --Jed Distler
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The Supreme Tosca In Its Best Edition Yet
D. Roth | Pleasant Hill, Ca | 05/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording has received so much recognition over the years, the best I can offer are details on this latest release. I have gotten all three of them- 1986,1997, and now this. If /when EMI releases another upgraded series of their classic recordings, I'm going bankrupt. Anyway...Opening the set, the slipcase completely encloses the jewel case, and inside are 3 nice b/w photos of Callas performing and recording Tosca. Inside the jewel case, where libretto books are usually tucked, is a handsome booklet commemorating the first 100 releases in the 'Great Recordings of the Century' Series, and paying tribute to Callas herself. Since the booklet is in English/French/ German, the text is brief but the photos bring great memories.The actual notes& libretto are in the outer slipcase. The essay 'Callas and Tosca' has been replaced by an interesting new essay by Richard Osborne, 'Victor de Sabata conducts Tosca.' In a set devoted to Callas' legacy, the deletion of the original essay is puzzling.The synposis is new but similiar matching the added cuing in the new addition. Disc one has gone from 10 to 16 tracks, disc two from 20 to 28.EMI's 'Great Recordings of the Century' releases have brought differing improvements to previous releases. In the Kempe Lohengrin set, for example, the sound is fuller than the first release, but you need to compare closely to really hear the difference. This Tosca, however, has really been moved into a bigger, more resonant, but actually clearer space. The difference over both previous sets is obvious, and, in both the 'Te Deum' and the murder scenes, really striking. I think this edition benefits Gobbi perhaps most of all, his commanding voice seeming more present than ever before. The orchestra projects more tone color also, adding even more power to De Sabata's inspiring conducting. Given the choice then, buy this newest edition without hesitation, especially if you have not heard this set before. Whatever edition, this peformance should be experienced by all music lovers, even if they avoid opera in general or Puccini in particular. Jealousy, love, hope, rage, or strength, Callas conveys the essential emotions of Tosca at each climactic moment. Di Stefano, if less a thinking performer than Callas or Gobbi, sounds magnificent. His 'e lucevan le stelle' at the start of Act III is really electrifying. The entire cast, under de Sabata's leadership, convinces you that Puccini,no less than Handel or Mozart, demands an authentic performance style.
This 'special edition' does preserve an historic event. Thanks EMI... Just let me live with this set for a few weeks until the 'Ultimate Callas Edition' rolls out."
Treasure that will never lose its value.
John Austin | Kangaroo Ground, Australia | 07/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There could be no justification for failing to award five stars or refusing to pay the high prices sometimes required to buy this classic recording of "La Tosca". The opera itself, already more than 100 years old, is one of the best we have, with three-dimensional characters involved in various levels of conflict, and with a great Puccini score. Walter Legge was in charge of this production. This "studio" recording was made at La Scala, Milan in the early 1950s. The sometimes-ungrateful acoustics of that renowned theatre have never been heard to better advantage. Just listen to the opening orchestral flourish! Giuseppe di Stefano is vocally very much at home in the role of Cavaradossi, the ardent young painter who is sympathetic to an escaped political prisoner. During his first aria, the comments of the sacristan are not allowed to turn it into a duet. In glorious voice for once, Callas immediately establishes the character of Tosca - imperious, suspicious, and jealous, but at the same time vulnerable and full of longing for the time when she and Cavaradossi can be together after her opera performance of that night. Tito Gobbi too, as Scarpia, is well in command of the vocal range of his part, even the difficult high end, and manages to humanize his role as the manipulative, lustful, and ruthless chief of police. One does not usually go home after a "Tosca" performance full of admiration for the conductor. The success of this recording, however, is very largely due to the superb drive, thrust and textural clarity achieved by the conductor Victor de Sabata. If any one passage is likely to outlast all others in your memory, it is few minutes before the end of the opera. How that "firing squad" theme seems to shriek here! How proud Tosca seems to sound, now that her successful ruse for faking Cavaradossi's death appears to have succeeded!Unforgettable moment like this, and invaluable recordings like this, make us grateful to be able to treasure them forever."
Grand, classic performance ruined once again by EMI...
Johan Bos-Beijer | Washington DC USA | 02/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In order not to repeat the reviews and waste space here, I encourage customers to check this same opera with the same cast under the old version still listed on Amazon (you will recognize it by the black cover and photo of Callas on that version). While the editing errors of which there were a few in the previous incarnation as well as some horrendous noises and overload in the sonics, this version is transferred under pitch. It sounds off throughout the entire work - when you do a side by side the artificially improved sound is immediately noticeable followed by the differences in pitch between the 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2003 versions. When will EMI get it correct? You may want to wait if Naxos issues it from the vinyl to hear sounds closer to the original vinyl. A disappointment from EMI once again."