Like most operaphiles, I had for so long been so hugely satisfied with the famous 1953 de Sabata recording that I had not bothered to sample the 1964 studio recording on the assumption that it was so markedly inferior that it was not worth the bother. +Forty years on, I find that I was wrong; it was the passing of Carlo Bergonzi that prompted me to obtain this wonder “Tosca”. I am now kicking myself for my stupidity.
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Performer: Maria Callas, Carlo Bergonzi, Tito Gobbi
Orchestra: Orchestre De La Société Des Concerts Du Conservatoire Paris
Conductor: Georges Pretre
Number of discs: 2
DR-Analysis: DR 11
Size: 2.38 GB
Let’s dispense with the obvious caveats: yes, Callas’s voice is now a little hoarse and hollow, somewhat less powerful and the flap up top has worsened, yet in many ways this is both a subtler and more striking portrayal of the role with which, despite her not especially liking it, she was most readily associated. Apart from the enhanced drama of her verbal inflections, her lower register is now even more trenchant and thrilling. Otherwise, with the exception of a far less gutsy and characterful shepherd boy who also sings rather flat, the recording made eleven years on, just after her run of successful Covent Garden performances brings nothing but gains over the earlier celebrated account.
Bergonzi is not as visceral as Di Stefano; he is vocally more restrained, varied, shaded and scrupulous, but the elegance of his big arias silences any demurral, even if he is little cool compared with Di Stefano’s gung-ho commitment. His patrician tenor is in first class condition. I can hear virtually no decline in Gobbi’s baritone except that he is just a little drier, but he is as ever an absolutely riveting vocal actor, still by far the best Scarpia on record, combining oleaginous charm with chilling viciousness. “Già, mi dicon venal” is a masterclass in villainy. Prêtre’s supporting cast is superior to de Sabata’s and I even find his conducting preferable, with more variety and a lyricism missing in the more verismo style of 1953 – listen to the gorgeous passage while Scarpia writes the safe-passage note to Civitavecchia for Tosca – and the Paris orchestra is really, really good.
So don’t make my mistake, give this a try – just be prepared to tolerate Callas’s vocal failings in return for the other benefits.
|Concerto Pour Piano No. 2 En Sol Mineur, Op. 22|
|Concerto Pour Piano No. 4 En Ut Mineur, Op. 44|
|B1||Allegro Moderato – Andante||12:50|
|B2||Allegro Vivace – Andante – Allegro||13:35|
Analyzed folder: /96k Saint-Saens – Piano Concerti 2, 4 – Collard, Previn
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR15 -0.77 dB -21.15 dB A1 Concerto Pour Piano No. 2 En Sol Mineur, Op. 22 – Andante Sostenuto.aif
DR14 -3.41 dB -25.00 dB A2 Concerto Pour Piano No. 2 En Sol Mineur, Op. 22 – Allegro Scherzando.aif
DR14 -1.33 dB -19.24 dB A3 Concerto Pour Piano No. 2 En Sol Mineur, Op. 22 – Presto.aif
DR16 -1.86 dB -23.52 dB B1 Concerto Pour Piano No. 4 En Ut Mineur, Op. 44 – Allegro Moderato – Andante.aif
DR16 -0.39 dB -20.30 dB B2 Concerto Pour Piano No. 4 En Ut Mineur, Op. 44 – Allegro Vivace – Andante – Allegro.aif
Number of files: 5
Official DR value: DR15
- Baritone Vocals, Performer [Baron Scarpia, Polizeichef] – Tito Gobbi
- Bass Vocals, Performer [Cesare Angelotti] – Leonardo Monreale
- Bass Vocals, Performer [Der Mesner] – Giorgio Tadeo
- Bass Vocals, Performer [Sciarrone, Gendarm] – Ugo Trama
- Chorus – Choeurs Du Théâtre National De L’Opéra Paris
- Chorus Master – Jean Laforge
- Composed By – Giacomo Puccini
- Conductor – Georges Prêtre
- Libretto By – Giuseppe Giacosa, Luigi Illica
- Orchestra – Orchestre De La Société Des Concerts Du Conservatoire Paris
- Soprano Vocals, Performer [Floria Tosca, Eine Berühmte Sängerin] – Maria Callas
- Tenor Vocals, Performer [Mario Cavaradossi, Maler] – Carlo Bergonzi
- Tenor Vocals, Performer [Spoletta, Polizeiagent] – Renato Ercolani
- Voice, Performer [Ein Hirt] – David Sellar
- RCM: Okki Nokki (L’art du son, Clearaudio’s Diamond Cleaner)
- TT: Vintage (1982) Yamaha PX-3
- Cartridge: Sumiko Black Bird
Cartridge: ZYX 50R Bloom
- Phono amp: Audio Research SP15 own tube phono section
- ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
- Pre Amp: Audio Research SP15
- Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
- Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
- Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
- Software: iZotope RX 4 Advanced, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
- Super light de-clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no de-noising
- DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
- Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
- Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5
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