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Subject: Re: Is the Callas Tosca recording the "best" opera recording ever made?
From: francis augustus <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:francis augustus <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 3 Jan 2018 13:21:23 +1100
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Well I’ll follow my bias and declare Sutherland’s Turandot peerless, with a sublime Caballe, Pavarotti is peak Pavarotti, Mehta and the LPO injecting the kind of controlled animal wildness this cruel piece needs, and Sutherland, off the Bonynge leash, unfurling otherwise rarely seen passion of a woman on the edge of (insert noun of choice) before resolving into the human warmth of her natural persona, and voice. Plus Ghiaurov faultless and Peter Peers as Timur is genius casting. On Decca, with a huge soundstage perfectly balanced and not a hint of distortion. (We have top drawer gear.)

And still, the total exceeds the sum, and it all makes sense, actually.

And they were a magic mix, Sutherland and Pavarotti, there’s frequencies and harmonics there the stuff of legend. 

John Augustus (Sydney)




> On 3 Jan 2018, at 11:13 AM, tom ponti <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> Olivero did not have a naturally beautiful voice, but then neither did Callas,  It was how the used and acted with it that made them special. My point was that Olivero was as great a Tosca as Callas was. I saw both at the Met, Callas was just past 40, Magda about 65. Vocally, their ages could have been reversed.
> 
> 
> ________________________________
> From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Ombrarecds <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, January 2, 2018 5:46 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [OPERA-L] Is the Callas Tosca recording the "best" opera recording ever made?
> 
> Olivero, a more beautiful voice? A bizarre voice. A limited voice. A unique voice. Beautiful? Hardly. I love her but never have used the word "beautiful" in the same sentence with her name. Have you ever heard her in person?
> 
> Patrick Byrne
> 
> Sent from my iPhone
> 
>> On Jan 2, 2018, at 3:48 PM, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> 
>> A good friend who is on opera-l sent me the Times article and said
>> "you must be pleased". I was, of course, but I wrote back to her
>> with a comment pretty much identical to yours. Max.
>> 
>> It is the totality, just about a perfect balance of all its pieces
>> that puts it in a place apart,  not the individual efforts, wonderful
>> as they are.
>> 
>> Tom mentioned the Price, Corelli, Macneil, which is a reissue of
>> a Met broadcast and it is a vocal knockout. I attended the first one,
>> a Palm Sunday non sub, which was not the broadcast, and I have
>> to say that Leontyne Price was stuck with one of the most awkward
>> visual moments I've ever seen. When MacNeil died, he fell to the floor
>> with one arm between the two chalk circles that indicated where the
>> candles should go. His arm was where his head should have been.
>> 
>> What to do? Well, she put one candle on either side of his arm, and it
>> looked ridiculous. I've always thought that some fire law made it
>> necessary not to mess with the placement of those candles.
>> Otherwise.........!
>> 
>> Bob
>> 
>>> On Tue, Jan 2, 2018 at 16:23 Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> 
>>> I actually do defend that De Sabata “Tosca” as the best yet, as I also do
>>> the Furtwängler “Tristan.”
>>> 
>>> I think one can find as good or better an instance of any one component
>>> elsewhere, but what makes these recordings so great is the particular
>>> coalescence of conducting, orchestral playing, singing, dramatic and
>>> musical nuance and expression that added up to much more than the sum of
>>> the parts.
>>> 
>>> Aside from still being, at that time, in luxuriant voice, it’s the wealth
>>> of detail and subtle inflection in Callas’ singing, as with Flagstad’s
>>> studio Isolde, that raises her performance to such an extraordinary level
>>> such as Callas herself wasn’t able to replicate.
>>> 
>>> Max Paley
>>> 
>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>> 
>>>> On Jan 2, 2018, at 13:13, tom ponti <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>> IMO, the Callas-de Sabata Tosca is a bit overrated.  No doubt Callas was
>>> a great Tosca but so were Tebaldi, Olivero and Price with more beautiful
>>> voices.  Though I have not heard it for many years, I preferred the
>>> Tebaldi, Del Monaco and London recording. I also loved the Price di
>>> Stefano, Taddei recording.  I also think there is no such thing as one
>>> greatest opera recording of all time. I have heard excerpts, on You Tube,
>>> of the Met Tosca recording with Price, Corelli, MacNeil  and it is
>>> thrilling!
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> ________________________________
>>>> From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]>
>>> on behalf of James Camner <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Sent: Tuesday, January 2, 2018 3:55 PM
>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>> Subject: [OPERA-L] Is the Callas Tosca recording the "best" opera
>>> recording ever made?
>>>> 
>>>> Once again a critic of the venerable New York Times has stepped up to
>>> make
>>>> an official pronouncement as Anthony Tommasini has declared the 1953 De
>>>> Sabata Tosca set from EMI the "Best Opera Recording Ever".
>>>> 
>>> https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/arts/music/maria-callas-tosca-recording.html?_r=0
> [https://static01.nyt.com/images/2017/12/27/arts/30tosca-recording4/30tosca-recording4-facebookJumbo.jpg]<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/arts/music/maria-callas-tosca-recording.html?_r=0>
> 
> The Best Opera Recording Ever Is Maria Callas Singing ‘Tosca.’ Hear Why.<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/arts/music/maria-callas-tosca-recording.html?_r=0>
> www.nytimes.com
> These 10 clips show why a riveting 1953 version of Puccini’s opera deserves its status as one of the finest classical albums ever made.
> 
> 
> 
>>>> [
>>> https://static01.nyt.com/images/2017/12/27/arts/30tosca-recording4/30tosca-recording4-facebookJumbo.jpg
> 
> [https://static01.nyt.com/images/2017/12/27/arts/30tosca-recording4/30tosca-recording4-facebookJumbo.jpg]
> 
>>> ]<
>>> https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/arts/music/maria-callas-tosca-recording.html?_r=0
> [https://static01.nyt.com/images/2017/12/27/arts/30tosca-recording4/30tosca-recording4-facebookJumbo.jpg]<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/arts/music/maria-callas-tosca-recording.html?_r=0>
> 
> The Best Opera Recording Ever Is Maria Callas Singing ‘Tosca.’ Hear Why.<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/arts/music/maria-callas-tosca-recording.html?_r=0>
> www.nytimes.com
> These 10 clips show why a riveting 1953 version of Puccini’s opera deserves its status as one of the finest classical albums ever made.
> 
> 
> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> The Best Opera Recording Ever Is Maria Callas Singing ‘Tosca.’ Hear Why.<
>>> https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/arts/music/maria-callas-tosca-recording.html?_r=0
> [https://static01.nyt.com/images/2017/12/27/arts/30tosca-recording4/30tosca-recording4-facebookJumbo.jpg]<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/arts/music/maria-callas-tosca-recording.html?_r=0>
> 
> The Best Opera Recording Ever Is Maria Callas Singing ‘Tosca.’ Hear Why.<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/arts/music/maria-callas-tosca-recording.html?_r=0>
> www.nytimes.com
> These 10 clips show why a riveting 1953 version of Puccini’s opera deserves its status as one of the finest classical albums ever made.
> 
> 
> 
>>>> 
>>>> www.nytimes.com<http://www.nytimes.com>
> [https://static01.nyt.com/images/icons/t_logo_291_black.png]<http://www.nytimes.com/>
> 
> Breaking News, World News & Multimedia<http://www.nytimes.com/>
> www.nytimes.com
> The New York Times: Find breaking news, multimedia, reviews & opinion on Washington, business, sports, movies, travel, books, jobs, education, real estate, cars & more at nytimes.com.
> 
> 
> 
>>>> These 10 clips show why a riveting 1953 version of Puccini’s opera
>>> deserves its status as one of the finest classical albums ever made.
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> Is it?
>>>> 
>>>> No question the De Sabata recording is superb and I wouldn't argue with
>>>> anyone who says it's the best Tosca recording, but it isn't my
>>> preference.
>>>> If I had to pick one Tosca recording it would be the sumptuous vocal
>>> feast
>>>> that the Metropolitan Opera presented in 1962 and available in excellent
>>>> sound on Sony..
>>>> 
>>>> Vocally this cast: Corelli, Price, MacNeil have much more opulent voices
>>>> than Callas, Gobbi or even Di Stefano possessed. Corelli - this is one of
>>>> those recordings where the erratic tenor was "on" and when he was "on" he
>>>> was simply incredible. Price? She was nearly always on and never better
>>>> than in this well mastered 1962 broadcast and MacNeil? Another rock solid
>>>> singer. The conducting by Kurt Adler indulges the singers, but with a
>>> cast
>>>> like this, why not?
>>>> 
>>>> I also happen to prefer the 1938 EMI Tosca recording with Gigli, Caniglia
>>>> and Bechi. Gigli was Gigli the most important Italian tenor to make a
>>>> complete opera recording and he is in fine voice along with the
>>>> underappreciated Caniglia and Bechi who is like Gobbi but with more
>>> voice,
>>>> (it wouldn't surprise me if Bechi was Gobbi's model for this role).
>>>> 
>>>> But putting all that aside, can Tosca, which is not even Puccini's finest
>>>> work, be the "best ever opera recording"?
>>>> 
>>>> I suggest that the Toscanini and Beecham recordings of La Boheme are more
>>>> worthy of consideration for such a title.
>>>> 
>>>> But neither would be on my own list.
>>>> 
>>>> My "best ever" opera recordings would be (in no particular order) the
>>> 1912
>>>> Pathe, La Favorite (the only truly idiomatic recording ever made of a Bel
>>>> Canto opera), the 1940 Metropolitan Opera Broadcast of Otello with
>>> Panizza,
>>>> the 1947 NBC Broadcast of Otello with Toscanini, the 1950 NBC Falstaff
>>> with
>>>> Toscanini, the 1935 Die Walkure Act 1 recording with Walter, Melchior,
>>>> Lehmann (no one else has come close to this), the 1932 EMI Don Pasquale
>>>> with Schipa, the 1941 Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Fidelio with Walter
>>>> and Flagstad, the 1955 Decca Le Nozze Di Figaro with Kleiber (despite the
>>>> anachronistic harpsichord this has never been equaled), the 1935 EMI Cosi
>>>> Fan Tutte from Glyndebourne, the 1937 EMI Die Zauberflote with Beecham,
>>> the
>>>> 1962 EMI Boris Godunov with Cluytens, Christoff, the 1939 Metropolitan
>>>> Opera Simon Boccanegra broadcast with Tibbett, Rethberg and Pinza (this
>>> is
>>>> the finest Verdi singing on a complete recording, period), the 1931 EMI
>>>> Werther with Vallin (probably the greatest recording ever made of a
>>> French
>>>> opera) and the 1930 EMI Faust with Journet.
>>>> 
>>>> One could do ok on a desert island with the above. I'm sure list members
>>>> have their own "best" ever recordings and I'd be happy to read their
>>>> choices. I don't doubt for a minute that Tommasini has probably not heard
>>>> most, if any of the recordings I listed. I would also add another one to
>>>> the list, and that is the brilliant complete recording of Hamilton made
>>>> with the original cast in 2015 and the only recording I've listed that
>>> has
>>>> its original cast. Some will perhaps argue that Hamilton doesn't belong
>>>> with the above, but I believe it is every bit as much of an opera as any
>>> of
>>>> them and it is my list after all.
>>>> 
>>>> Happy New Year!
>>>> 
>>>> James Camner
>>>> 
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