For as long as I can remember I have been a huge fan of opera, and Tosca has always been a huge favourite. It has a dark, tragic yet compelling story, characters that live long in the memory especially Scarpia and then there is Puccini's music which is utterly magnificent.
I am more receptive to the 1976 and 1992 films, and also the 1984 and 1985 productions, when it comes to talking about Tosca, but this is still very good. The orchestra and conducting are superb, the whole of Act 2 musically and dramatically is a tour-De-force and the Te Deum is performed in a very inspired way.
This Tosca is blessed by performances that range from good to outstanding. Outstanding is Cornell MacNeil, who I have under-estimated before. Even with a more open sound than in his prime, where his voice was rich and of dark quality, he sounds great with more than good control in his upper and lower registers and excellent legato. Initially he isn't my idea of the complex character that is Scarpia, who I see as a Machiavellian character but with a human touch too, but he is suitably repellent and the end of the Te Deum is downright blasphemous as it should be.
Shirley Verett is an excellent Tosca. She sings beautifully, even if sometimes it is more of a mezzo-soprano quality, she reacts very well to Pavarotti and particularly MacNeil and is a gifted actress, the end of act 2 is especially well done on her part. Luciano Pavarotti was good but didn't impress me as much. He does sound absolutely wonderful in the role of Caveradossi, and sings his big arias Recondita Armonia and E Lucevan E Le Stelle with aplomb and he does have an infectious personality and smile in general. Against all this, save a few exceptions(ie. Rodolfo and Duke of Mantua) I have never been a big fan of his acting and sadly he doesn't for my tastes quite bring out of the heroism, poignancy and arrogance of Caveradossi.
In conclusion, a very good broadcast, helped hugely by MacNeil. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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