Puccini: Tosca (excerpts)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Puccini
LABELS: Decca Opera Gala
WORKS: Tosca (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill MilnesNational Philharmonic Orchestra/Nicola Rescigno
CATALOGUE NO: 421 888-2 ADD
This distillation of Tosca lacks nothing in terms of the big tunes, but it is a performance short on the (melo)drama which makes it such a great and arresting opera. Beautiful singing – and there is plenty here -isn’t really enough when such passion and tragedy is at stake.

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Sherrill Milnes’s Scarpia, though commanding vocally, inspires no great terror, and Pavarotti’s ardent and lyrical Cavaradossi is unconvincingly heroic. Only Mirella Freni as Tosca, brighter and fresher in 1978 when this version was recorded than on this year’s splendid DG set, has the power to move. Richard van Allan makes an impressive appearance as Angelotti and John Tomlinson can be heard fleetingly as a guard.

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The disc is marred by some ugly editing, especially the abrupt way in which ‘E lucevan le stelle’ is ended, and the atmosphere throughout is uncomfortably studio-bound. Claire Wrathall