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Subject: Re: Is the Callas Tosca recording the "best" opera recording ever made?
From: Dennis Ryan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Dennis Ryan <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 3 Jan 2018 19:03:18 -0500
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   Hi, Y'all!  
     Bravo, Bob!  
    As you know, I agree with you ALMOST fully about that "I Puritani" Mad Scene.  My only exception to your view would be to rank Callas' studio "Ebben, ne andro lontana" side by side with it.  
    I am always thankful for those who understand the beauty of Callas' voice and comment on it.  So many would-be critics of Callas do not seem to understand that beautiful voices have "presence;" that beautiful voices have that "I-dare-you-to-be-able-not-to-listen-to-this" quality; that beautiful voices, often by sheer dint of their beauty, are intrinsically interesting and can easily call attention to their artistry in a way that distracts the listener from both words and music.  Nor do they understand that, when all of these things occur in one great voice, it is a great thing.   
    Bob wrote:  
    "It's interesting to me that this thread has centered on performances by Callas and Flagstad. I would place Callas' Cetra Puritani "Mad Scene" alongside the Flagstad "Narration..." as the two most perfect blendings of voice and vocalism I've ever heard.
    For the record, Tom, I consider Maria Callas' voice among the most beautiful I know! To call it less is a valid opinion, but it is certainly not a fact."
    Best, 
    Dennis Ryan 





-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
To: OPERA-L <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wed, Jan 3, 2018 10:33 am
Subject: Re: Is the Callas Tosca recording the "best" opera recording ever made?

Donald

Total agreement with every word of your post, especially the last
sentence. While it is true that, at least in my opinion, Furtwangler
stands alone as a Wagner conductor, and that the sound quality of
my favorite performance of Tristan is quite compromised, the
combination of prime Flagstad, including those deafening Bs and
Cs, and Melchior, provides the most breathtaking vocalism I've
ever heard in this music. Covent Garden 1936 and 1937.

The conductors are just fine, the other soloists uniformly excellent,
and to have heard Flagstad's "Narration and Curse" is to know
to what heights the human voice can soar.

It's interesting to me that this thread has centered on performances
by Callas and Flagstad. I would place Callas' Cetra Puritani "Mad
Scene" alongside the Flagstad "Narration..." as the two most perfect
blendings of voice and vocalism I've ever heard.

For the record, Tom, I consider Maria Callas' voice among the most
beautiful I know! To call it less is a valid opinion, but it is certainly
not a fact.

Bob

On Wed, Jan 3, 2018 at 11:09 donald kane <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Good for you: I don't think Mr. Camner, in his polyglot list of personal
> favorites, has applied this level of understanding as to what a perfect
> recording entails.  The most dubious item on his list is perhaps the
> "1938 EMI" TOSCA.  It is easy to imagine how an Italian baritone
> with  the vocal heft and histrionic temperament of Gino Bechi might
> have been a memorable Scarpia, but if he ever recorded even an excerpt,
> I'm not aware of it.  Armando Borgioli, who was the Scarpia, with Gigli and
> Caniglia, made a perfectly adequate impression on me when I listened,
> side by shellac side, to my very first Italian opera, long, log ago..
>
> Come to think of it, until the lamentable Bondy version came along, I don't
> think I have ever NOT enjoyed a performance of this Puccni masterpiece:
> the Carmen Melis, with an awesome Apollo Granforte , Price, Tebaldi,
> Milanov, Kirsten, Crespin, Nilsson, Olivero , as well as the "perfect"
> Callas, and not to forget Di Stefano, Corelli, and the peerless Colzani,
> have all left indelible memories, in and out of the theater.
>
> Incicidentally, I have never agreed with the elevated status many others
> grant to Furtwangler's studio TRISTAN; no performance of that work can
> approach perfection IMO, unless the Tristan is as satisfying as the Isolde.
>
> dtmk
>
>
>
> On Tue, Jan 2, 2018 at 4:23 PM, 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.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > 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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