Very good performance, worth seeing for Te Kanawa and Wixell
Tosca is my all-time favourite Puccini opera, and one of my favourite operas in general. The music is magnificent, as it is with a vast majority of operas, the story is dark, tragic and compelling and Scarpia is such a complex and powerful character. This Tosca is very good, though I prefer the 1976, 1992, 1984, 1985, 1990 and 1961 productions. The Gobbi and Callas performance from 1964 is also legendary.
Being an admirer of Kiri TeKanawa, I liked this performance of Tosca very much. Visually I would have preferred a much more foreboding setting for Act 1, but I liked the costumes especially Tosca's Act 1 dress and Act 3 was beautifully lit. The picture quality occasionally could have been a little clearer, and while it was mostly good the sound had times when it was muffled especially during Mario Mario Mario with the orchestra.
From a musical point of view, it is almost faultless. Act 1 is appropriately lyrical, Act 2 is terrifying and full of tension and Act 3 is very moving. The orchestra are superb throughout, with their finest moments being Te Deum, the torture scene and Scarpia's Murder. The cello ensemble in Act 3 was well-played but could've have perhaps been more spacious. Seiji Oszawa's conducting is sensitive, while not too plodding or erratic.
The performances are terrific. Ernesto Veronelli is not one of my favourite Caveradossis, I am very fond of DiStefano, Corelli, Carreras and especially Domingo myself, but he is still very good. The singing is generally bright and ringing especially in Recondita Armonia, while dramatically while occasionally a little stiff he is ardent in Act 1, arrogant in Act 2 and poignant in Act 3.
Kiri TeKanawa I have always admired, and while I wasn't sure initially I was impressed by her here. Vocally, this is one of the most beautiful- almost bell-like- and most musical Toscas I've heard, and dramatically while lacking a tad the steel with Tosca's jealousy it is passionate and moving. Vissi D'Arte is very nuanced, and a great document to her artistry. And of the big jump at the end, simply brilliant, I can only think of Behrens and Malfitano who are more thrilling.
Ingvar Wixell nails the difficult- while very evil-incarnate, the role has many dimensions to it- and powerful role of Scarpia. I do prefer Gobbi, Raimondi, Milnes and MacNeil when it comes to the role, but Wixell is still for me one of the better ones. His timbre is not for all tastes, it is quite a dry and grainy sound, and personally I would have preferred more smoother singing for the Te Deum, that way the evil does drip off Scarpia but in a more subtle way, but it is firm and dramatically skillful. When it comes to the acting, he is extraordinary, very spontaneous and three-dimensional.
Overall, a very good Tosca. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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