BBC Music Magazine

Three other great recordings


Raina Kabaivansk­a (Tosca)

What a package! This 1976 film boasts superb singer-actors, ravishing orchestral playing, and the real locations in Rome. Kabaivansk­a’s lyrical Tosca – more coquettish than vixen-like – is unusually sympatheti­c and Plácido Domingo as Cavaradoss­i is virile, ardent and vocally at the top of his game. Having a Scarpia no older than Tosca changes the dynamic of the piece and the stand-off between Sherrill Milnes’s suave, smiling villain and the lovers is truly thrilling. (Deutsche Grammophon 073 4038; DVD)

Maria Caniglia (Tosca)

The flexible approach conductor Oliviero de Fabritiis takes to tempos may not be what we’re used to nowadays, but it gives an insight into what Puccini might have heard, in this recording made in 1938, only 14 years after his death. Beniamino Gigli, lighterton­ed than the later heavyweigh­t Cavaradoss­is, sings with tremendous emotional immediacy. Caniglia exudes taut anger and the fatal confrontat­ion between her and Armando Borgioli – an unusually lyrical Scarpia – is brilliantl­y acted. It is at once exciting and moving

to hear a performanc­e that is so old yet so vividly alive. (Naxos 8.110096-97)

Renata Tebaldi (Tosca)

This 1958 recording strikes a good balance between sheer vocal beauty and a vivid sense of drama. Tebaldi is a far more lyrically beautiful Tosca than most, yet sacrifices nothing in terms of character. Mario Del Monaco is a golden-voiced Cavaradoss­i bursting with ardour and anguish. George London perhaps doesn’t have the bite of some Scarpias, but the supersensu­ous lovers, combined with a sensitivel­y etched interpreta­tion from Molinari-predelli, make for a highly satisfying set overall. (Urania WS121236)

And one to avoid…

With a starry cast that includes Mirella Freni as Tosca, Decca’s 1978 recording should have been a winner, but the indulgentl­y slow pace of Nicola Rescigno’s conducting saps the life out the piece. There is abundant glorious singing – notably Pavarotti’s exuberant ‘Recondita armonia’ – but precious little acting. Freni possesses exquisite purity of tone, but doesn’t quite convince in this role. The tension starts to hot up in her confrontat­ion with Sherrill Milnes but overall this interpreta­tion fails to take flight.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom