"It may be true that the sound on this recording is substandard, but NOT anymore so than many operas released at over $50!!! Not to mention the tremendous work from the three priniples. I have NEVER heard the third act sung so magnificently. Tebaldi always had the strength in Act III, this time she is in the company of the great Di Stefano, who matches her every step of the way. This TWO CD set is MORE than worth the price, especially since this particular recording has not turned up before. The entire performance is first rate and in my opinion, the tympani player should have received FOURTH billing, making the music thrilling and dramatic to the point of sheer enjoyment. A MUST have."
A Special Performance from the Long Gone "Golden Age"
Jon M. De Benedictis | Fairfield, CT United States | 08/27/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As I've mentioned in other reviews, the treat of Opera D'Oro recordings is that they bring together casts in live performances that could never happen in the studio. Here is the ultimate example. Tebaldi was contracted with Decca where she recorded a Tosca with del Monaco & George London. Di Stefano did two Tosca's- the legendary EMI w/ Callas from '53 & a Decca recording with Price from '61. Gobbi was Callas' partner on her two EMI Tosca outings.
The joy of Callas' Tosca was to be able to see her in all her dramatic splendor, but from a purely vocal standpoint, Tebaldi had her beat, and this recording proves why. Here she is, in her short-lived prime, giving one of her finest performances commited to recording.
Gobbi is sneering and evil from the start and never fails to give you goosebumps. Di Stefano is heard here in the midst of his notorious vocal crisis and downward spiral. Fortunately, much of the beauty of the voice is still evident in this performance since, vocally, Cavaradossi isn't a particularly challenging role. Even if he lunges at the high-notes, you still can't deny that the man sang with more heart than other tenor of that time and that's particularly evident in the final act.
AS usual, the sound quality is mediocre, at best, but if you can deal with that, then you won't be disappointed."
Jon M. De Benedictis | 07/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the Tosca that Puccini had in his mind!Tosca is an opera singer and with Renata Tebaldi in the title role we get the clearest image of who Tosca really is. Tebaldi's voice is exactly what in this case is needed!A powerful but at the same time moving instrument that also characterises the singer Tosca. As the Opera evolves so does Tebaldi's voice!She gives us the best "Vissi d'arte" ever!!Listen to that "aaaagli altaaar"(though Montserrat Caballe has also given us a wonderful performance) .TEBALDI IS DIVINA TOSCA !!Even Callas-fan critics agree.The rest of the cast is also subleme,Di Stefano is among the best Cavaradossis ever recorded.Gobbi also gives a splendid performance. On the whole if one wants to get the BEST EDITION OF TOSCA.....he should search no more, her it is!"
harrmor | Athens, Greece | 06/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, probably the sound is substandard and inadequate but be sure this IS a truly great recording of this "little shabby shocker".
We have three magnificent singers but also three wonderful actors. Renata Tebaldi is superb. She sings gloriously and dramatically. We can feel her jealousy for Mario her hatred for Scarpia. Also her "Vissi d' arte" is both dramatical and artistical. The crowd can't stop applauding and is finally interrupted by the conductor continuing with the music.Giusepe di Stefano is wonderful. He IS Mario. He sings equally good compared with his studio recording of 1953 with Callas but here he acts too. One example: just listen to him in the middle of the second act after his cries "Vittoria! Vittooooooria!". He adresses to Scarpia and callas him "carnefice". Listen to that "carnefice" and you will know what I mean!
Finally, Gobbi... What to say about him? He owned the part! He was the best Scarpia and his recordings of the role prove it. We hate him from the beginning! His voice is sinister and he acts superbly.
So, get this set. It is also in low price so it's a bargain you must not miss!!"
A Powerful Performance Marred Only By Bad Acoustics
harrmor | 01/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Make no mistake. This is an incredible Tosca, equal, yes equal to that of Maria Callas/Di Stefano/Gobbi. Critics will immediately make comparisons to that particular edition, since it's largely considered to be the best and most definative. As an opera cognoscente, I'm aware of the rivalry and vicious enmity between fans of Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi. But in real life, these two sopranos were never enemies. They may not have been the best of friends but they respected each other as fellow artists. They ewre two great divas of the 20th century, in the aftermath of World War II (50's and 60's). Tebaldi is a legendary singer in her own right. She had a brilliant vocal technique, which did not strain her voice so she was able to sing far longer in years than Callas, whose career was really quite short-lived if you think about it. While Callas was big in the 40's, 50's and 60's, Tebaldi was able to sing until the late 70's. Her Tosca is remarkable. In the light of her death only a month ago, interest in her performances on video or recording has surfaced. For fans of Tebaldi, this is a must have. Even if you own the Callas version, get this one too.
ABOUT THE ALBUM: This album is marred by bad sound/acoustics being a live recording. It needs to be digitally remastered in order to sound better and I'm sure a record label is willing to do that soon. But essentially, this has the same power and dramatic scope of the legendary Callas/Di Stefano/Gobbi version conducted by De Sabata. The only difference is Tosca, interpreted by Renata Tebaldi. Tito Gobbi is deliviring his usual dynamic performance as the villainous and lusty Scarpia, while Giuseppe Di Stefano remains a classic Mario Cavardossi, idealistic, romantic, noble, patriotic and heroic. It's a great album, its only imperfection is sound. If this bothers you too much, look for another Tosca recording with Renata Tebaldi and a different cast, available here on Amazon.com. It's a rare album and the cover definately looks like it's been taken from the original LP.
RENATA TELBADI IN THE ROLE OF TOSCA : Renata Tebaldi is an unbelievable Tosca. She takes on the role with subtlety, with intensity, with beauty, with matronly, womanly spirit but with vigorous action, with a big palette of emotional coloring. To be truthful, Tosca has got to be the most challenging role for Puccini soprano specialists. There are many today who simply can't take it on. It's a definate Italian-sounding role, much of her lines sound Italianate and feminine, therefore the voice must convince us she's a hot-blooded and feisty Italian woman. Although Tosca is a tough woman (she stabs Scarpia in the most famous scene of all opera) she is also very sensitive and noble. She has hands which in the course of 2 hours or more she uses to pray, to caress her lover Mario Cavaradossi and to kill Scarpia. She's a woman of many dimensions. She's jealous, she's vulnerable, she's a woman, she's a child. Her dramatic leap at the end of the opera, her suicide, has to be climatic and moving. Renata Tebaldi takes on the role with great energy and passion. She bathes her lines with beauty and danger. It's a great performance. We must remember that it is opera after all and sounding beautiful is just as important as sounding dramatic. Tebaldi sings gorgeously and on stage she must have knocked them dead.
OTHER SOPRANOS AS TOSCA: Tosca has been sung by dramatic and lyric sopranos. It is a role suited better for heavy and high sopranos- Maria Callas, Leontine Price, Birgit Nilsson, Eva Marton, Hildegard Behrens. Wagnerian sopranos who can sing the role of Brunhilde like Birgit Nilsson or Hildegard Behrens enjoy success as Tosca as well. It almost seems tailor made for their big, dramatic voices. Former mezzo sopranos can sing Tosca quite well if well-trained. Mezzos already equipped with a generous chest voice, lower register can aptly sing the lines "Mouri Danato Muori (Die damn man die!) as she kills Scarpia or the lines "Avant a lui tremaba tutti Roma" (before him all Rome trembled) and other such lines which call for Tosca to use her darker and lower voice. She seems to be using it a lot in the presence of Scarpia or to effectively sound angry and bitter. Mezzo sopranos that have sung incredible Toscas include Grace Bumbry and Shirley Verrett, sadly there are no recordings available of their performances. But the juicy role has attracted even lighter voices- Renata Scotto, Mirella Freni and Kiri Te Kanawa each sang Toscas in their careers. These voices are essentially lyric or spinto voices. They mostly emphasize the beauty and pathos of the role. They make us feel sympathetic feelings for the suffering the heroine is going through. Scotto and Freni have been the more successful Toscas. Renee Fleming could pull that off even if she sang Tosca, but I doubt Renee Fleming would sing Tosca. For the most part these lighter voices stay away from Tosca. That's because the tradition remains the same. It's a role given to the big dramatic and heavy voices. Also, a light soprano could lose her voice straining to the harshness of Tosca. Today, I'd like to see Debora Voight take on Tosca if she could master the role or Andrea Gruber as Tosca. Andrea Gruber is currently performint Turandot at the Met."