What an incredible thrill!
Emma de Soleil | On a holiday In Ibiza, then back to the UK for stu | 06/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These live-highlights of Puccini's Tosca were recorded in 1951 when Callas wasn't only in pristine form but it was one of those years in which she could sing a blazing Tosca and the almost impossibly demanding Proch-Variations. I was never fond of her live-Tosca from Mexico City, she lacked the tenderness and fragility of Tosca's character then plus the conductor and rest of the cast were acceptable at best. But here the then "portrait in the making" has developed and Floria Tosca becomes alive. In the Vissi d'arte she sings a ROCKET of a B with a lovely piano in the end, incredibly beautiful. The high notes of Act II are rock-solid and huge, the dramatic colours and phrasing are exquisite. Her Tosca deepens even more on the miraculous studio-recording with Gobbi&di Stefano, highly reccommended. And the rest? Well, Poggi never pleased my ears but he's certainly a fine tenor and Silveri is a vivid, dark Scarpia. Votto conducts well, yet the sound is only so-so. What makes this recording a must is the live-recording of Proch's highly difficult variations. Albeit in bad sound (But so are the recordings of vocal giants such as Caruso and Ponselle) it presents us with Callas' unsurpassed abilities as a virtuosa. There are numerous E-flats, trills, coloratura... It's a highly difficult tour de force the Queen of belcanto manages as if it were a walk in the park. (BTW: I'd die for a recording of young Sutherland singing this but she never touched this highly difficult piece) Scales, trills, arpeggios, roulades are done to PERFECTION and the sound IS good enough to enjoy this unique virtuosa! This will hopefully show some that the prejudice that Callas was a better actress than a singer is as false as it can be, she was a singer first and always. That she was also the finest operatic interpreter of the last century is the cream and cherry on the already overflowing cup. Fascinating, for Callas-Fans and beyond!"